A plus-size runner’s guide


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Running is an excellent form of cardiovascular exercise that helps release endorphins and gets legs into killer shape; I’m a thick girl, and I love it. Unfortunately, it also puts a lot of strain on the body and leaves you susceptible to injury, which is exactly what happened to me while training for a 5K.

Being a plus-size runner may come with some challenges, but check out these tips and you’ll have a safe, happy run.


Feet first!

Supportive running shoes are absolutely essential to a safe, effective running regimen. Have a fitting at a shoe store, and you will help to create proper alignment and avoid common running injuries, such as plantar fasciitis ‚ which the Mayo Clinic describes as the inflammation of a thick band of tissue known as the plantar fascia, located in the heel — and patellofemoral pain syndrome, also known as runner’s knee, which can be caused by uneven weight distribution and flat feet.

These injuries are of particular concern for plus-size women, as Runner’s World reveals that overweight women are six times more likely to develop plantar fasciitis than overweight men. Also, wear supportive shoes throughout the day whenever possible. I’m not saying to pack up your heels for life, but if your foot is already stressed from running, you may want to put them to the side for a bit.

These injuries can be prevented in much the same way. Yoga is a great way to keep the body supple and also aid in treating such injuries as plantar fasciitis, while these stretches courtesy of the Mayo Clinic will keep feet limber. Columbia University Medical Center also recommends this series of stretches to heal from plantar fasciitis. For maintaining healthy knees, try Shape.com’s suggestions.

The National Institute of Health reports that wearing a night splint will help ease pain from plantar fasciitis; Running Times has a nifty tutorial on wrapping your foot to ease the pain of plantar fasciitis and suggests a regimen of anti-inflammatory medication and icing the affected area. Try using insoles, such as Dr. Scholl’s P.R.O Pain Relief Orthotics for Heels, to alleviate discomfort.   

While you are healing, remember R.I.C.E.: rest, ice, compression and elevation. Taking a break from running is a bummer, but getting your feet healthy again will prevent further injury in the future.

A medical professional will be able to provide you with further help if the pain does not dissipate.


Rubbed the wrong way

Big girls know exactly what I’m talking about here. Thick thighs tend to rub together, and constant friction leads to painful chafing. I love my big thighs, but I definitely don’t love rashes.

The chest is another sensitive area that is prone to chafing, thanks to sweaty bras. Lola Getts, created especially for plus-size athletes, has some excellent options. Look for fitted pieces with flat lock seams and moisture wicking technology, like their Skinny Capri. The Babydoll Top provides extra support thanks to a built-in shelf bra and drawstrings for a custom fit, while mesh keeps you cool and dry. Create a skin barrier with a balm that prevents friction and keeps skin smooth; try Bodyglide Anti-Chafe balms.


Plot your course

Knowing your running ground is a clever way to avoid injury and a great way to work up to more complicated courses. Now, you can keep all of this information on your smartphone — Map My Run provides information about courses throughout the world, including distance, difficulty level and terrain. You can also find running groups and events in your area.

Now you’re ready to rock your run!