Interested to learn how to start running? Our expert’s #1 piece of advice? It’s never too late to start—no matter your size.
A Beginner’s Guide to Running by a Fat Girl Who Runs
At Dia&Co, we believe that all women are #FitToThrive. From surfing to hiking, and everything in between, we’ve heard from women across the country about how they like to be active. With a number of members of the community interested in learning how to start running, we turned to plus-size runner and the founder of Fat Girl Running, Mirna Valerio, to share her tips on conquering a much-loved (and sometimes very loathed) sport.
Running is an essential part of my everyday routine. As soon as I put on my running clothes, my body and mind are primed to move over trail, pavement, and treadmill, in a rhythmic motion that awakens my spirit. There are so many personal benefits to running that it’s hard to pinpoint just a few (but here it goes):
- Running gets my legs moving in the most basic of human ways.
- Running in the morning sets a tone of success for my day.
- Running is a great gateway to other sports and activities.
- Running has brought incredible people into my life.
- Running is part of my self-care routine–even when I’m training for a big race.
- Running gives me time and space to think.
- I’m generally a happier person when I run regularly—you know, endorphins!
What about you—have you always wanted to run? Are you looking for another way to enhance your fitness and lifelong health and wellness? Running is here for you—it always has been, and always will be. Most people can enjoy the same benefits that I enjoy and then some, simply from putting one foot in front of the other. Here are some steps to get you started on your running journey.
On Your Marks
- Be open to the idea of running and start envisioning yourself as a runner. Remember: if you run, you are a runner. It’s as simple as that.
- Get fitted for a good pair of running shoes. It’s really important to start your running program with shoes that are geared towards your foot shape, arch height, and gait. This is important for preventing injuries like plantar fasciitis and ankle tendonitis. Stop by your local running store or your physical therapist to analyze your gait. Trust me—you’ll be much more comfortable if you do!
- Invest in high quality, high-performance gear. While running comes with no gym fee and no charges from a personal trainer or class instructor, it is important that you invest in the right apparel and shoes. Do yourself a favor and purchase a few basic activewear items for your plus size running adventure. Or, better yet, let your Dia Stylist do the work! Be sure to update your profile to let them know that you’d like to start your running journey so you can get items tailored to you.
- Support the girls. Get yourself an amazing sports bra. There are many different styles and models of sports bras that will minimize bouncing while you’re running. Personally, I received two great bras in my Dia & Co activewear that are fashionable, functional, and high performing.
- Get set to glide. Get yourself some anti-chafe balm so that you’re comfortable during and after your run. It’s summer after all and you will no doubt sweat on your run, so be proactive and protect yourself. I recommend Body Glide or Rocket Pure, and I always apply them generously to any high-friction area. This goes for places where fabric may rub against the skin or skin-to-skin friction.
- Lace up and step outside. Breathe in that outdoor air. Breathe out. Make sure your shoes aren’t tied too tightly so your toes have some wiggle room.
- Recite your favorite mantra a few times. My favorite is, “I love myself unconditionally right now,” from Dr. Christiane Northrup. You can choose anything that empowers you, and it can change daily.
- Take a pre-run selfie to commemorate the start of a fantastic run. Just because.
- Most importantly, run at a comfortable pace. Too often, folks start with a bang and run really fast only to become discouraged when they’re unable to maintain the pace they start with. Give yourself a break. Run slowly at first and once you’re warmed up, pick up your pace only if you’re ready. If not, keep running at a pace that is sustainable to you. If you are just starting out a program, keep your runs short and easy. Ten to fifteen minutes is a great length of time to start out with. When you become comfortable and mentally ready, then feel free to add on a few minutes at a time to your run. It is totally okay to take a walk break. Once you’re done with your walk break, get back to running. It truly is that simple.
- Take in the sights, sounds, and textures of your run. Who do you see? What’s on your mind? How does the ground feel underneath your feet? What smells do you smell? (Hopefully, they’re pleasant, like freshly cut flowers or the ocean at high-tide!) You can use your run as a time to explore a new neighborhood or path.
- Give yourself a mental high five when you’re done. Celebrate each run as an accomplishment—even the tough ones, even the bad days! No matter what, it’s an investment in your long-term health and wellness.
- Take another selfie. Because you are great and the people in your life need to know this! You never know who you might inspire.
Give running a chance. It just might warm your heart—in more ways than one. If you allow running some space in your life, you’ll find you have just created more space for yourself.
Good luck and happy running!