Complete novice - Where to start?

Hi to all!

As the title says, I am a complete novice having actively avoided any sort of physical activity at school preferring to occupy myself with stuffing my face for years. The end result was a gastric bypass 3 years ago and I have now lost almost 12 stone and have a BMI of 31 (down from 60something image) with a view to losing another 2 stone to eventually hit goal weight. 

As a bit of a background, 3 years ago I was so obese that I could barely walk and couldn't remain standing for more than 10 minutes or so without serious back pain. Following the weight loss, this has changed dramatically and I now feel I am ready to take up jogging, to help lose the last of the weight, to increase my terrible fitness levels and as a general hobby.

So, tonight (once it was semi dark of course!) I took the plunge, drove to the pretty little beach in the next town where I always see loads of runners and started jogging. I chose a bus stop about as far into the distance as I could see and headed for it. After about a minute my heart was pounding, my head felt like it was on fire and my calf muscles started to ache but to my incredible surprise... I kept going. In fact, I went past the bus stop that I had chosen and kept going about the same distance again. I then slowed down, turned around and came back. I must admit by the time I had got to the last quarter of the return journey, I was positively gasping for breath, my head was pounding and I was sweating like no-ones business but I made it. 

I sat in the car when I got back, gulped some water down checked my watch to time it and then cried. Tears of absolute joy that someone who just 3 years ago, was so morbidly obese and unfit could actually jog that distance. I then drove slowly down to the point where I had run and checked the milometer which had gone slightly past 0.5 miles so this means I had jogged just over 1 mile. It took me roughly 15 minutes.

I guess the reason I am posting here is that I am very aware that right now I am walking on air and thinking that this is it and I am now a jogger for life but I'm not silly, I know that motivation does wear off, I actually ran only 1 mile before I HAD to stop and to be perfectly honest, I have no idea if what I did was good/bad/about right etc. Also, i have no idea about what my targets should be. Having read a bit of my background and what I did tonight, what would you suggest to be a good target for 1 month, 6 months etc etc? 

Also, I would add that I am a smoker. Another NY resolution to myself is to give up this year at some point and I'm hoping that taking up jogging would be good motivation to do this. Baring this in mind, should I be doing things a bit differently until I give up smoking? Should I even be doing this whilst smoking? Should I go whole hog and quit next week and see what happens???

I will continue to read these forums to learn as much as possible but I would love to hear anybodys thoughts on my desperate ramblings...

Thanks in advance image


  • First of all well done for getting to where you are.

    I would recommend consulting a GP or even a cardiac specialist before you do much more. There are runners that smoke, and smokers that run, but the less you smoke the less pressure you're putting on your (already overloaded) cardiac system.

    Assuming you're good to go, I would suggest repeating what you've been doing, 3 times a week, but maybe with a miles walk before and after the run. When you get to the stage when you're comfortably finishing your mile run, then increase it slightly into your walk distance. Take it slowly; even if it seems easy, don't be tempted to push too quickly. Enjoy!

  • Congratulations - I'll just echo the advice above.  While a great achievement for you, I'm not sure your heart should be pounding, head on fire and no breath unless you are on the final straight during a race, or in a really really hard training session (which generally are not done that often and then only when you are already pretty fit).  Try to keep your next few weeks more gentle should you be cleared to run - best to be just a bit out of breath - just outside your comfort zone, rather than miles beyond it which you managed (admirably) image.  In your shoes I might consider a HR monitor so you can gauge your effort better?

  • Thank you for both of your comments. Very helpful and will take on board what you have said. Will keep you all updated, thank you. image

  • I jogged round Poole Park lake on Saturday for the first time. I had to slow to a walk on numerous occasions and it took me 15 mins. I think starting slowly and building up your speed gradually is safer than going all out at first. Well done and happy running!image

  • Well done on getting out there, that is often the most difficult part.

    The fact that you managed to keep going for a mile is a fantastic acheivement. However I would urge caution and I recommend that you look for a couch to 5k programme to strat with. This will be a mix of running and walking and will allow your body to adapt slowly to exercise. My concern would be that as you are a complete beginner you may do to much to soon and put your body under to much pressure. The couch to 5k also shortened to C25K programme can be downloaded onto an mp3 player or you can look for paper copies to print off and stick on your fridge - there are other programmes out there image.

    Whatever you choose good luck, but just take it nice and easy. 

  • Don't worry about your heart pounding and your lungs feeling on fire, those above worrying about that are noobs and obviously wern't even as fit as you are already when they started. No need for a c25k if you can runa mile, that's going backwards. Following the advice of the first reply. Your heart and lungs will be the first part to respond to exercise, you'll probably notice a difference within a week. However, do take the increasing distance with some precaution, simply because the cardio will improve first, then your muscles and lastly your ligaments and tendons. It is easy to get carried away with your (comparative) new found cardio fitness when the rest of your body just isn't up to it.

    Just for your refference, I started at 29 bmi, the first day  did 1 mile in 10 minutes, like you heart and lungs on fire! Two days later i did 1.5 miles, two days later 1 mile, two days later 2 miles and so on up to 6 miles. I was fine. However I was never in your initial position and even at 29 bmi no one considered me to be "fat", just big built and I was generally active, cycling, weights.

    Follow chubby bloke for a couple of weeks and see how you get on, re-evaluate then.

    As for the smoking? No brainer!

  • Lardarse not a complete newbie - just a medic image

  • Thanks again all, you're all super knowledgable and will take on board what you have all said. Off to kit up for another attempt now... this time its still daylight image

  • Well yesterday I did 1 mile and today I managed 1.6! image

    My question now is my ankles are the most painful part, I get aches in my thighs whilst running and for a short while afterwards but my ankles seem to hurt pretty much all the time now. Is this because I have bad trainers do you think or simply because I'm not 'running right'?

  • No advise here but can I just say that you should be (as I'm sure you are) incredibly proud of yourself. Well done and keep up the hard work. You are inspiring.

  • Hi Unfit26, well done on starting. I hate to say it but I think your ankles will take a bit more time to get as fit as the rest of you. Your original post talks of difficulty standing and walking when very big, they may need a bit of TLC.
    Rather than run tomorrow, just walk for one mile. Taking it easier for a day is not going to cause a reversal of any fitness, but your ankles will probably prefer it. Walking and running use the same muscles but in slightly different ways. Most training involves a gradual increase in distance or time and repeats of the same thing, along with important easy sessions where you do a bit less and the body gets more chance to recover and get stronger than ever.
    I presume you are doing some stretching afterwards, do a few ankle circles in both directions if not already doing so.

  • Lisa123 wrote (see)

    Lardarse not a complete newbie - just a medic image

    A "medic" diagnosed my dad with a chest infection when he'd had a heart attack...

    A "medic" diagnosed my best friend with a pulled muscle when he had a blot clot that moved into his lung...

    ...I'm not particularly impressed by "medics"  image

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