Beginner tips for plus-sized runners

Author: Holly Taylor

Read Time:   |  March 10, 2022

Runners come in all shapes and sizes: get started today!

Sign up to any race and you’ll see that runners come in all shapes and sizes. That’s part of what makes running so special – anyone can be a runner. There is no licence to earn, no membership to pay for, you don’t have to look a certain way, you don’t have to be fast – you just have to run.

No matter what your size or shape, running isn’t always easy and, if you’ve never run before, getting started can seem hard – but we’re here to show you how to approach the sport with confidence while ensuring you look after your body. Here are our top tips for plus-sized runners…

What to wear for running

There is no doubt that your first few runs will be a bit uncomfortable, but don’t panic, this is normal and it will subside as you get fitter. However, there are few things you can do to avoid being put off on day one.

First off, invest in a little bit of kit to support you – you might be tempted to cover up with a baggy t-shirt, but there’s really no need, and it will only bunch up and chafe. We recommend you look for tops and tights in technical fabrics that will carry sweat away from your skin.

Your starting point, though, should be a good bra. As with any bra, fit is key to both function and comfort. If you’ve got bigger boobs this is going to be the toughest bit of kit to get right, but it’s going to be worth it. Here’s a full list of our favourite sports bras for bigger boobs.

When it comes to running shoes, again you should steer clear of raiding the bottom of your wardrobe for old gym sneakers. You’ll need to work out whether you want a more cushioned shoe or a more neutral one – here’s our guide to choosing the right running shoe. Keep in mind that as you get fitter your running style and shoe needs might change, so it’s a good idea to visit a specialist running shop after your first few months to be reassessed.

How to fuel up for a run

Whatever your reasons for starting running, losing weight is probably not a good idea for a primary motivation. Our resident nutrition expert Laura Hilton explains the science behind weight loss and running here.

In terms of nutrition, you’ll need to fuel your body with enough food to give it the energy it needs to run. The more you weigh, the more calories you’ll need to fuel your running. Keep your new training regime fuelled with slow-release carbs and plenty of protein to help with recovery. Here’s exactly what to eat before running to give yourself an energy boost.

Speak to an expert

Now for the serious bit. Being a bigger woman can carry risks which you’ve no doubt been lectured about before – so although running will improve your health and fitness, if you are worried, you should check in with your GP before you start training.

Your GP can check your current heart health and advise you on how to gradually get into running so you’re not putting yourself in danger. This goes for new runners of any size who are anxious about their health at all.

“When a patient comes in who is overweight and wants to start running, I love it! I’d always encourage them,” says resident GP and runner, Dr Juliet McGrattan, “But I’m always careful to stress that they’ve got to start slowly with a walk, then a walk/run, and build up gradually to a run. They need to get good shoes and take extra care of their joints because of the impact of running, and they will need a bit longer for recovery between runs. I’d also reassure them that as long as they feel OK with what they’re doing, it’s alright to get out of breath.” Only you know your own body, so do what you’re comfortable with and chat to an expert if you need advice.

Join a community

Everyone feels a bit nervous the first time they run, but if you really want to get out and get running but just can’t stand the thought of going it alone – don’t. Running clubs are very inclusive and welcoming, more so now than ever, and almost all of them have their fair share of beginners. Find your nearest running club online, get in contact and join in on their next beginners run!

We may be ever so slightly biased, but we also recommend becoming a Women’s Running Plus member for the latest advice, lovely treats and freebies.

Check out our beginner training plan here.

Written by

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor

Holly Taylor is the digital editor of Women’s Running and co-host of the Women’s Running podcast, where she shares her running journey as well as the inspiring stories of women runners all over the country. She’s never been the sporty type, but running is the first time she’s felt real joy in getting active. She loves talking about running with a community of inclusive and supportive runners, and Women's Running is the perfect space for this. She's currently aiming for a half marathon PB!

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