Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Nike: Too Heavy To Be a Runner?

originally posted January 08, 2010 by Coach Jay

Coach Jay, For the first time in my life I am really enjoying running, but am unsure if I am too big to continue. I decided to try jogging as part of my weight loss regimen in addition to weight training and other cardio.

As of this month I have achieved 30lbs of weight loss and ran 2 continuous miles for the first time in almost 10 years. Once I started running 2 miles a day several times a week, I realized how much I now enjoy running. Unfortunately, I am getting soreness in my shins. I still weigh about 255lbs and other runners at my fitness center have commented that I just don't have a runner's body and probably should not run endurance because of the heavier impact. Four years ago I was pretty lean at 230lbs, so I will be a big guy even when I'm done losing the weight.

I set a personal goal to run a 5k and possibly a 10k this next summer or fall and it has been a tremendous motivational tool for me. I know I could run much longer distances than 2 miles already if only my legs could hold up. For now I have switched to stationary bike as a non-weight bearing cardio source while my legs recover. Also, I'm certain I can't get lighter than 220 without muscle loss.

Am I really too heavy to be a runner now or even when I achieve my weight goal? Are there ways to strengthen my lower legs to prevent soreness and injury? - - -Matt

Matt, First, thanks so much for the candid and detailed email, and I hope my response is useful.

Your first sentence is the key in my mind: for the first time in your life you enjoy running. Not only is that awesome, but it's also the key reason why you need to ignore the other runners at your fitness center. You want to run and you're enjoying it so the question is NOT can you or should you, but how will you.

So how will you? By making your running days your favorite workout days and using other aerobic activities to lose weight. And if you're really motivated, you're a prime candidate to religiously implement the general strength exercises in our video series.

Your first goal is to run more than two miles on your runs, and the way you'll do it is by run-walking; run your NORMAL pace—don't run faster than what you've been running—for 2 minutes and then walk briskly for 2-3 minutes. I don't want you spending any more time running, yet the total workout will be longer. If your normal two mile run is taking you 20 minutes then you get to do 10 sets of that, which will be a 40 minute workout. You should do the Myrtl routine before that run and the Pedestal routine and Back routine after the run.

Now, if you do that 2-3 times a week then you can choose your other activities, although I would argue that swimming should be at the top of the list. You can either swim laps or aqua jog and then after that workout you can do a weight workout per the instructions of a trainer at your fitness center.

The bottom line is a 5k and then a 10k race are totally realistic in 2010, but it's baby steps to get there. Please write back in 2-3 months and I can help you take the "next logical step" in your training at that time. Thanks for the question Matt.

Coach Jay coaches athletes at and blogs at And don't forget, if you have training question for Coach Jay, email him here:

Interested in Coach Jay's General Strength videos? Click here to check them out.

Always be in-the-know. Follow Nike Running on Facebook.