Overweight and unfit

Overweight 48 year old desperately trying to be fit for one of the half marathons I fail to get fit for due to either illness or injury. My first planned so far is the Shakespeare in April.

Any advice on training, weight loss and motivation techniques would be very much appreciated.

I have already completed 3 half marathons but my last one was 2009.


  • Start again using something like couch to 5k, take it easy and slow. Forget that you have run before and be a total beginner, that way you will be less likely to injure yourself. If necessary start with a week of walking briskly to get your body used to the idea of doing some exercise.

    You have done it before and can do it again but do not expect to lose masses of weight and suddenly have the ability to run fast in a few weeks, you are in it for the long term, plenty of time until April if you tackle it in a consistent manner and within your current abilities.


  • If you have already done 3 then you know what it takes. To avoid injury you need to build up slower and/or lose the lard first. If you don't really want to do it no amount of pep talks will convince you. If it's the difference between getting around and doing a reasonable time there are a lot of plans available. 

  • My advice for weightloss is - don't run to lose weight, you need to diet primarily.  Running is pretty pathetic for burning calories unless you are going to be up in the 30 miles a week plus range.  The motivation for it in a HM is that each 2 lbs you lose could be a good minute faster at the same fitness.

    My personal motivation is being able to see improvement, so a log of your training runs and a regular trip to the local timed Parkrun to see how your fitness is going helps.  I love gadgets so a Garmin watch kept me (and still does) interested.

    20 weeks until April, depending how overweight you are, there's a lb a week (very reasonable/conservative weight loss level to keep up) up for grabs by then!

    My first 2 HMs were 2:06, then I regressed to 2:09 (feeling dire at the finish) while weighing in the region of 93-95Kg.  For my third HM I lost 12Kg, managed a 3 month training plan (the runners world one on this site) and hit 1:46 while feeling pretty fresh at the finish.  That was extra motivation then - now I'm aiming for 1:30image

  • Another good motivator is new kit. Treat yourself to some new shoes and you'll want to get out in them.

  • This is exactly the advice and motivation I'm after thanks to all of you. I have registered for parkrun and am cross training and dieting to relieve some of the strain on my poor knees and ankles before I start running again in earnest. I have invested in new kit (cant be without my Asics gels) and a Garmin watch so fingers crossed that I have covered everything except my own get up and go.

    If anyone else is doing the Wolverhampton and Birmingham halves I will see you there.

  • Pete HoltPete Holt ✭✭✭

    what most have said here. take it easy at first small steps big gains.

    the biggest advice I can give you; is get into the gym also.  strengthen those muscles that have to carry you around. "injury proof yourself".  Glutes, hips, calves, and hamstrings. are the best groups to work on at first. add in some cross training too as this is low impact exercise and will aid you getting fitter.   

    finally if you are overweight - cut your calories and loose a few pounds. Brutal I know - but it will help you feel good and motivate you further.

  • Thanks Pete. I have joined our local gym to try and gain some core stamina as well as hopefully shedding a few pounds but find myself on the cycling machine all of the time. I can't seem to get my head or feet around treadmills. What else would you recommend?
  • Pete HoltPete Holt ✭✭✭

    Hi Rob,

    Cycling is great pal and Spinning classes are a great way to improve cardiovascular function, if you feel up to those too.

    Nothing else to add mate, except to add further information to what I have said already.

    Walk on the tread mill at an incline as it strengthens the muscles that support the joints used for walking and running.  15 to 20 mins.

    Lunges (forwards and backwards) and squats are good exercises. Front and back leg curls to build the vastus medials and hamstrings, respectively.

    Heel raises for the calves.

    all the above exercises should be performed slowly with the focus only on using the relevant muscles to that exercise. 3x20 is fine at least once a week.

    you can google them for examples or search on youtube for video examples.

    If it gets easier carry weights in your hands or use one leg where applicable. (eg. one legged calf raises or one legged squats).


    In terms of running walk and jog in intervals to start with, and run at an easy pace. avoid trying to beat what you did the week before pace wise. I would avoid running at any pace for at least 3 months so just concentrate on stamina, as you will speed up naturally anyway, without the need for "pushing it".

    Calorie control - half your carbohydrates and replace with vegetables, cut out snacking, and drink at least a pint of water before eating any main meal.  (it helps you to feel fuller).  Also ensure that you drink enough throughout the day, being as dehydration can make you feel hungry. 

    avoid shop sauces (full of sugar) and takeaway or microwave foods.  Finally do not diet, you will put the weight back on (as I did many times).  It is a cliché but; make lifestyle changes, that you can stick with.  Just make small changes as detailed above.


    And finally in terms of injury, the strengthening is great but also ensure that when running you do not over stride; take smaller steps.






  • Thanks again Pete. I will take your advice to incorporate the inclined treadmill and especially around the drinking - I must admit that I have a bottle of water on my desk at work that is just gathering dust so I will start again on that routine.

    I'm not dieting as such but I have cut out a lot of things such as crisps, chocolate, cake and alcohol and any snacking I do is via a box of grapes or unsalted nuts and raisins.

    I really cant thank all of you who have commented enough.

    What I would like feedback on is energy drinks. I only drink sugar free but if I am taking all of your advice on board to improve myself then I had better go whole hog as I must admit these are my only vice - too much caffeine?

  • Pete HoltPete Holt ✭✭✭

    Hi Rob, the sugar free are fine for those shorter runs.


    general rule is anything around two hours are fine for the full sugar versions.  However, I often run very early (5:00am) and therefore do not have time to eat so if I am running for 90 mins plus I will use lucozade sport for energy.  otherwise I use water or do not drink at all (6 miles maximum no fluids).

    keep me up to speed with how you are getting on.



  • Thanks Pete but I was referring more to using them as a general drink during the day. I don't drink coffee or tea other than fruit teas and am keeping away from other fizzy drinks.

    Like I confessed to, energy drinks are now my only vice (addiction?).

    If general concensus is to knock these on the head too then I will do so - even if it means me going cold turkey.

    In my defence though I do mix them with cranberry juice...

  • Pete HoltPete Holt ✭✭✭

    any drinks with artificial sweeteners are not advisable, particularly if using them regularly.  Some view the chemicals in the sweeteners as worse, health wise, than drinking full sugar alternatives.  from my perspective, I avoid artificial sweeteners, except after my long runs, normally 14 to 18 miles, subsequently I need to drink a lot and water gets boring.   


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