Can I run well and still be overweight?

Im sorry if this has been asked before-please feel free to point me in the right direction of any previous threads on this topic.

Anyway Im 5ft 6.5" and I weigh 14 stone. According to charts/doctors I should be 10 stone. I have acheived this kind of weight loss before but for a while now Ive been kind of accepting yself the way I amimage)

Then........along comes running lol! Something I thought I would NEVER do and it turns out I have a real passion for it!! Im rnning with a club 3 x a week and my milage is about 15 miles per week.

I would love to know if I should diet to help see a difference in my running. I can do about 4 miles without stopping but I only ever acheive 12 min miles.

What would happen to my running if I lost say a stone in weight? WOuld it make a massive difference to times/being out of breath so much and general aches and pains?

Or will all of the above symptons get better the more I run?

Like I said, Im sorry to be a pain and ask what seems like a silly question but I would like to get better at running!!!

Does anyone have any experience of being a 3 stone + over weight runner?

Hoping to grab some advice from you guys;))))

Best wishes




  • Losing weight would almost certainly benefit your running. I would say definitely, but there's more to it than physique. Some people have natural aptitude, some don't. But if you want to put the effort into improving, then being lighter would help. 

    It's simple physics - the less mass you have have to move the more efficient your running will be. Your power to weight ratio would improve, the effort required from your cardiovascular and pulmonary systems would be reduced, and the strain on your muscles and joints would be less. 

    Re. times and breathlessness/aches and pains - that's something that will improve with training image


  • Thanks Sarahimage

    Yes my gut instinct is to agree with you! Being lighter Im sure would make my running easier.

    Im just a stubborn muel who said I wouldnt do another diet again. I love running because its something that I can do now, just as I am.

    Its kind of like Ive got a new best friend 'Mrs runner' and three would be a crowd with 'Mrs weightloss' hanging around lol!!!

    Perhaps I should join a diet club (again) ...............

    Anyway thanks for the reply!!!

    Best wishes



  • I did both, it took a doctors warning and over the period of 6 months I dropped 3 stone - I ran and cut out the stuff I really liked, cheese and chocolate - I also reduced the the amount I was eating too cutting out ice cream etc - I wouldn't call it a diet as such, just redued the calorie intake.

    Good luck, as Sarah said your running will certainly benefit from losing a bit of weight though.

  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    It's worth dieting.  I'm overweight.  5ft 4 and now 12st 13lbs, I started running at around 14st.  I've been going 7 weeks now partially because of getting fitter, but also because of loosing weight. I can run quicker than a month ago, and my average heart rate is now 8 to 10 bpm lower when running the same distance.  So I can sustain the same speed if not quicker for longer, and i'm sure that loosing weight has helped, and i'm looking forward to loosing more, along with the running it's really starting to have a good toning effect as well, which is a nice fringe benefit.

  • You don't have to 'diet' as such. It's not something I ever advise my patients (I'm a dietitian) - 'going on a diet' is seen as a temporary thing, to be adhere to until you reach a set goal. Once that goal has been reached, the rules of the diet aren't needed any more and then that's when most people start regaining weight. Losing weight is one thing, but you'll only maintain the loss if you've made healthy changes that you can stick to in the long term. 

    It makes far more sense to have a look at what, why, when and how you eat to see if there are any adaptations you can make as a permanent change. It could be ditching the biscuit you always have with your coffee, or having a smaller portion of pasta for dinner, alternating drinks on a night out (wine/beer/etc., then water/diet coke) or rewarding an achievement/celebrating in a way that doesn't involve food. There are lots of habits people fall into with food that promote weight gain, and often we do them without even realising it. Changing your diet rather than 'going on' a diet is far more likely to achieve long term success.

    You certainly don't need Mrs. Weightloss hanging around - just try and be a bit more mindful of what you're eating, and the weight loss will look after itself image

  • I managed to loose 2 stone in ~ 18 months without going on a diet. I made sure I only ate at meal times, but the big difference was the running. All that training really makes a difference!

    you don't need to fret about the weight loss, just be sensible about the food intake. it's more important to feel good and healthy than it is to be a racing snake.

  • mathschickmathschick ✭✭✭

    I have lost nearly 2 stone in the last year by eating generally healthliy with the odd 'treat' and doing exercise - running/cycling sometimes and swimming. MUch better than the people at work who only eat special k/only eat protein/don't eat cake/have a slimfast bar for lunch. They obsess about every calorie which really isn't healthy and takes up a lot of time and effort which could be enjoyed doing something else

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    Thanks peeps-your stories and ideas have been really inspiring to hearimage I really must get my head down and do this. After all-I am the only one who can do this! I totally agree with the small changes thing and I think thats acheivable for me. My problem is  Im a self confessed sweet addict. Ill do anything for a sugar hit and most of my food intake/calories come from choc/sweets /sugary carbs/fizzy pop. Prob the worst diet ever but hey-Im up for changing it!

    Im a busy mum to three so theres no excuse. The rest of my family eats really well so I should be too. I think its because their little and hubbys out all day that I can sort of 'get away' with it lol! Also I think I have a few control issues with food e.g Its the only thing I have time to control/I need to eat on the run as I dont have time to eat at meal times/I deserve it/rubbish food is all Im worthimage

    Must try and resolve the whole food thing and not just the food. In the meantime though I intend to keep running-even if I do look super clumsy;)

    Thanks again guys


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭
    Hate to say it but it's will power I'm exactly the same, one day I said that's it 1 curly wurley a week and no other sweets.. It's just a habit and you can break it, no matter how impossible it seems, various frag fruits give the sweet hit.
  • well you've all said it already, but i'd add . . .

    the fitter one gets thru running (or any activity)where one builds muscle will alter ones weight if calories in is less than calories burned, of course.

    but the results are often seen elsewhere than the scales. better body shape, better posture, brighter complexion and eyes, smaller waist, tighter bum and thighs, looser clothing, more energy, more confidence, higher libido etc etc.

    but the scales dont always show a drop in weight, so do measure body too, maybe once monthly, to really see 'the magical shrinking woman'.

    so in answer to your question, yes you probably will get to be a good runner whilst you are still larger than you wish to be, and you will be getting healthier and probably smaller too.

    good health to us all, and enjoy!

  • *but the results are often seen elsewhere than the scales. better body shape, better posture, brighter complexion and eyes, smaller waist, tighter bum and thighs, looser clothing, more energy, more confidence, higher libido etc etc.*

    Hmmm so am I right in thinking that there would be some changes (even though they might be small) even if I didnt change my current eating habits at all?

    What kind of changes will running 15 miles a week make to me being 4 stone overweight without doing anything to change my calorie intake?

    Im intrigued lol!!


  • hi issy,

    i'm no expert, but if you're running AT ALL regularly throughout the week, your body is having to use up more calories than before, your muscles are having to do things they have not done before, so, there will be changes.

    if you are overweight with your current intake and that doesnt change (which is NOT what i'm suggesting) then your extra activity will have some effect (tho less so than if you changed your eating habits a bit)

    does that make sense? its a balance between energy in and energy used up.

    add into the mix the speeding up of your breathing (more o2, good for the body) and blood flow and perspiration, all of which get rid of toxins one way or another, and there will be more subtle changes happening.

    and if you DO make any dietary changes those will be all to the good.

    the longer you're doing the regular running the more your health improves (and maybe your weight reduces) the more you'll notice changes in your physique.

    its a glorious positive circle.




  • I just read something that says to lose one pound a week you need to eat 500 calories less than your equilibrium amount each day.  To work out your equilibrium amount you need your age, sex, and activity type.  If you are a very active person, you still only need about 300 calories a day more than someone who isn't active.  Check out the link below:

  • Yep it totally is a glorious positive circle!! It's run night tonight with my athletics club and already I'm dreading it/nervous/fear/tons of self doubt going in but on the other hand-I can't wait to get going again lol! As for the extra oxygen benefits, I've defiantly noticed that my skin is clearer and eyes are brighter.

    And thanks for the link re calories-I think I could get rid of 500 a day no probs;)

    Ok so one last question.....will I look more toned or lean? Or even notice a couple of inches diss appearing here and there now that I'm running regularly? And will that happen without making any dietary changes?

    Thanks again for the replys-you really are a usefull bunch!

  • mathschickmathschick ✭✭✭

    To be honest, if most of your food intake is sugar/choc/fizzy pop then you are unlikely to lose much weight on 15 miles a week. Make some small changes. One obvious one  would be to get rid of the fizzy pop - drink something that is not sugary or fizzy. Your body and your teeth will appreiciate it!

    You will notice that your leg muscles are toning up, but if you don't eat healthily you really won't lose the weight.

  • Fantastic work on the running. I'm in a similar boat, was 15st 8lbs when I started running again 8 weeks ago, and have dropped to just under 15st now (target is 13st 3lbs). I have a system that works for me (but obviously might not work for everyone) -

    I try to eat 2400 calories a day (my recommended level with moderate exercise), so I just allow myself 12 'portions' of roughly 200 calories, every day. Apart from that rule, I eat what I want (using a bit of googling here and there to get the right data, and forensically examining the nutritional information of everything in the supermarket!).

    So - slice of buttered toast, 1 portion, jacket potato with tuna mayo, 3 portions, slice of cake in the office, 1 portion, pint of guinness, 1 portion, can of coke, 1 portion, big bowl of cheesy pasta for dinner 5 portions etc.

    It forces me into making slightly healthier choices all the time (i.e. skip the cake and I can have another pint later, but not both like I used to). No quick results, but I'm dropping about a 1lb a week at the moment so something is working. Plus it doesn't feel like I'm on a diet, if I want to splurge 3 portions on a big slice of chocolate cake I can, but I have to make up for it throughout the rest of the day (no bag of crisps on the train, no glass of wine over dinner). Plus, I often 'round-up', so a can of coke with 142 cals I count as 1 portion, which means by the end of the day I'm usually coming in below the 2400 level.

    As I say, might not work for everyone, and you have to be very anal about keeping track of everything and not underestimating the amount of calories in things - but after a while it becomes easier to calculate.
  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    frag fruits... I blame it on my iphone fresh fruits even.


  • booktrunkbooktrunk ✭✭✭

    You need to burn 3,500 calories a week to loose 1 lb on average.  So if your food intake is identical that's quite a lot of miles.  Say 100 - 150 calories a mile.  20 odd miles might shift 1 lb a week. 

    But then if you start eating a bit more as your tired from your jogging it can go up Personally, I'm eating between 1200 to 1500 calories a day on average, and on my long run last Sunday I burnt 800 calories for 10k

    But that is with me trying to diet, if you are happy with what you are currently, then just carry on as you are and see how it goes. You might loose some weight then hit a plateau at which point if you want to loose more then you would have to look at cutting the calorie intake. 

    When I was 15st 8 i worked it out that that is something like 3500 calories a day to maintain that weight. I was quite surprised and that's when I decided to do something about dieting personally.

  • and once more, you've said it all really, you are all so experienced.

    its true, issy, if you cut out the fizzy drinks you'll notice a different - your tummy will probably reduce for a start, honestly that would be a simple and excellent start to changing things in your eating.

    another simple change is use smaller plates and bowls and serve up smaller portions.

    you have seen changes already, in your skin and eyes, it will only get better.

    i used to drink pints daily of coke and once i stopped that it reduced calorie intake massively and improved skin .

    there are many 'diet plans' around, but really, we all know that the way to lose weight and get fitter is, reduce fat and sugar intake, increase fruit and veg intake, increase water consumption, increase physical activity to at least 30 mins a day 3 to 5 days a week.

    you know you can do it. good luck and ENJOY it all

  • The problem with eating a lot of sweet stuff is that it bypasses the liver, and the refined sugars like glucose gets absorbed into the blood stream straight-away which is what gives you the 'sugar rush'.

    It's an awful way to keep your energy levels steady because of the spikes in your blood sugar levels.

    Introducing more complex carbohydrate foods (pasta, whole meal bread, rice, boiled potatoes, and foods high in fibre) will ensure your energy levels don't fluctuate as much (because your liver will convert glycogen into glucose and release it as and when your blood sugar levels drop and your body needs it) and this will ultimately also aid your running.

    Good luck!

  • Thankyou all-once again great info and support!!!

    Yeah my main problrm I wold say is with the cola. Even though its diet-Im sure its not that great for meimage( However nothings seems to stop me from getting through 1 litre if not more a day. I suppose Im worried that if I want sweets/chocs/fizzy diet drinks etc for more 'bulky foods' like cerials/rice/wholemeals breads/pasta etc I may end up putting on more weight. These things seem so substantial compared to a small, quick sweet snack.

    If these changes will make a difference to my running though-Im up for giving it a go. I think Im also really aware of hearing things like 'runners need so many carbs' which Im sure is true. However when your a beginner like me-I dont think Im really entitled to say that lol! A marathon or 12 miler  maybe but I dont think Ive really earned the right to fuel up when Im only doing 5/6 miles three times a week.

    Im sure theres a whole science behind what your body does with the food you eat during the day and then run at night on. I was never overly keen on science so thanks heaps for explaing things clearly and easilyimage

    Anyway hoping everyones enjoy that Friday feeling!!


  • Oh and even if Im only drinking diet coke which has zero calories in it-would it really make a difference to body if I gave it up? If so, in what ways?

    Sorry for all the questions in advance;)


  • As a fellow diet coke drinker, there are three things to worry about:

    1. Artificial sweeteners stimulate the same areas of the brain as sugar, but the bloodstream doesn't have the same quantity of simple carbohydrates as if you'd just drunk a sugary drink, so it stimulates your appetite to make up for this confusion. There are lots of scientific studies that have shown taking artificial sweeteners leads to increased calorie intake elsewhere in your diet. This doesn't have to be a problem if you are disciplined with the rest of your diet, but it is worth knowing. Read more here...

    2. Caffeine levels are about 30% higher in diet coke than normal coke. If you're drinking more than around a litre a day then you run a risk of some caffeine dependency. Try going 72 hours without any diet coke to see whether you have any dependency, usually around 36-48hrs after the last drink you'll feel withdrawal symptoms.

    3. Diet coke contains phosphoric acid and citric acid, which can irritate the stomach and oesophagus if taken in the few hours before exercise, so I tend to avoid it if I'm going for a run that day.

    The one thing not to worry about is aspartame. There was one bogus study in 1987 which has since been disproved so many times that it has no credibility whatsoever. Still doesn't prevent lots of people from saying it's bad for you - but there's no science behind that myth.
  • StewartCStewartC ✭✭✭

    I started running in Feburary weighing in at 16 and a half stone image 4 months later I'm 13 and a half stone image.  All I've done is avoid eating crisps, pizza, pot noodles etc and reduced my portion sizes 

  • DeanR7DeanR7 ✭✭✭

    The answer is not a diet. as a diet is short term, you get grumpy and return to old habits and circle is complete image

    the answer is to eat smarter but make the changes in small steps. replace crisps with carrot sticks and grapes/apples.  Evening meals eat roasted sweet potato/butternut squash instead of chips. etc...  Plan your meals ahead, not everyone but say next week i will have chicken thighs and butternut squash, another day pasta and meatballs, etc... I will keep you good and will stop you spending at the takeaway.   dont cut out all treats, for example keep diet coke but replace something else.

    I did this and the weight fell off.  its a positive cycle as you lose weight through smarter eating you will runner further/faster so will lose more weight.

  • 8 months ago I was almost 17 stone.  I decided I needed a challenge to entered the Edinburgh marathon.  I'd been running regularly for 2 years before work commitments made it hard to run regularly and a good ole dose of emotional eating cuased a significant weight gain so I'd been away form running for about 6 months. I'd done a marathon 2 years ago so I knew what I was letting myself in for.  I started running 4 times a week at quite a low intensity (I used my heart-rate monitor) and after 8 weeks I'd lost a stone.  8 months later I've lost 4 stone and set PB's at both 5K and marathon distances.  Yes, weight loss does lead to faster times (I've read that for every pound you lose you can go faster by about 3 seconds a mile) and I can say that I feel so much better for shifting the weight.  Arguably I still have weight to lose (I could be down to 11st10lbs) but I'm not sure I'll ever maintain that weight, having been there before.  

    In terms of diet, I bsically cut out as much rubbish as I could but allowed myself specific treats, like a packet of snac-a-jacks and some fruit at 4pm if I was training in the evening after work.  With the whole "runners need lots of carbs" thing, basically I ate a normal balanced diet except when I was doing 16miles or more when I ate a much bigger breakfast and used energy gels, etc.  I'm not convinced that the average runner needs a "special" diet as such, just a generally healty one.  The bulk of wholegrains, etc is only really an issue during carbo-loading. I found that the sheer amount of carbs I needed to consume (8g/kg of bodyweight per day - from a sports nutrition book) meant that at times it was easier to eat refined carbs than wholegrains.  Normally it's down to choice: a healty snack or one with refined sugar.   

    Best of luck - let us know how you progress.

  • mikasamikasa ✭✭✭

    If you want any reading on the matter, buy/borrow/steal  ' Racing Weight' by Matt Fitzgerald. It's not just for 'proper athletes', it's really good for understanding what you need to/should do to lose weight as an 'endurance athlete'.

  • I wonder if your sugar habit is becoming a kind of addiction? Sugar, and the reaction our body has to it, has a nasty habit of "tricking us" into going back for more, over and over again.

    When I gave birth to The Boy Who Does Not Sleep, 3 years ago, I got into such a habit of grazing on sugary foods throughout the day just to keep my energy levels up ; but sugar gives you a quick burst followed by a bad crash and so you feel more tired than before, and head back out to the kitchen for another chocolate bar (life would be so much easier if we only craved the things that are good for us, like brown rice.)

    I put on 6 stone during that time and have only lost 5 stone of that since I cut out the sugar and started running again. Try to wean yourself off the sugary snacks and you will be amazed at what it does for your running and your overall wellbeing. Sorry for the long post but you sound a lot like me so I just thought I would share what I found helpful.

    Good luck!

  • Once again thankyouall for the replies!!!

    Yep sugar is a problem in my life. I think about it all the time and I constantly seem to be chasing after my next fix. Sounds awful doesn't it! I totally get what you mean about the energy thing-I have three littliesand if I didn't have my usual supply of chocolate/coke/sweets, I begin to feel pretty grumpy and on edge.

    Good news though-Friday is sweet day for the kids and instead of picking up my usual can of fizzy pop, I opted for a carton of orange juice. Not really sure if that's any better but it feels better;)

    This running lark has really got me questioning my sanity though lol! In last nights club run I was told 'hills are our friend' and now I'm seriously considering eating brown rice lol???!!!!

    Good fun though if nothing else right;)


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