How To Start Running When Overweight (Gear, Tips, And Program)

Running is one of the fastest ways to burn calories and has a very low barrier to entry. Invest in a few and inexpensive gear and you’re good to go. That is why it is highly recommended for those who want to lose weight. But how exactly do you start running if you’re overweight?

As a general rule, overweight runners should keep a comfortable pace. Alternate jogging and walking throughout the run. It will take 2 weeks for your body to adapt to the activity. Eventually, increase the total distance or duration of your runs. 

Ahead, I will give you 7 tips to help get you started on running. I will also give you a very easy program that you can follow. But first, let’s take a look at the gear you need for running.

Your Guide To Running Gear

First and foremost, you need proper running gear to avoid unnecessary discomfort. This section is a brief guide to what you should wear when running.


You can wear a singlet, a long-sleeved shirt, or just a regular shirt. However, there is one golden rule for choosing a running top—avoid cotton.

As a general rule, your top should be made of moisture-wicking fabric. The most common types of fabrics that can be used for running are polyester and nylon, but there are also technical fabrics designed to improve breathability.

One of my favorite shirts for running is the Under Armour Tech 2.0. I feel very comfortable wearing it because it dries very fast, it’s light, and it feels really breathable. You can buy them on Amazon.

But there is more to choosing the perfect top that calls for a whole article. If you want the full guide to choosing the perfect top, I made an entire article about it. Be sure to check it out.


Like the tops, you should avoid shorts made of cotton and stick with the ones made of synthetic fabrics. There are many types of running shorts and they come in different lengths. You should wear the type and length you’re most comfortable with.

When it’s hot, I recommend wearing running shorts. When it’s cold, you can switch to tights.

Keep in mind that if you have thick legs, there’s a high possibility that your thighs will rub against each other and cause chafing.

I have thick thighs and I experience chafing every time I run longer than 3 miles. However, I noticed that when I started wearing compression shorts or 2-in-1 shorts, I no longer experienced chafing on those long runs.

two of my favorite shorts are the 2XU MCS Run compression shorts and the Lixada 2-in-1 Running shorts.

Also, I just want to point out that wearing underwear is unnecessary for these types of running shorts. The compression of the compression shorts and the lining of the 2-in-1 shorts already provides adequate support. Plus, cotton underwear will only cause chafing and discomfort.

If however, you decide to wear a different type of shorts without lining or compression, here are the types of underwear that you can wear under your running shorts.


As a beginner, wearing those regular cotton socks are fine for the meantime since you aren’t running long distances yet. However, once you start running longer, they may start becoming uncomfortable and cause blisters.

Related: 5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Wear Cotton Socks For Running

The ideal socks for running are made of moisture-wicking materials like polyester, nylon, and wool. They keep your foot feeling fresh and dry throughout your run. But they are more expensive than your regular pair of cotton socks.

Most running socks also have extra cushioning and protection to prevent hotspots and blisters—a common source of discomfort when running with regular cotton socks.

If you’re looking for a sock to invest in, I recommend the Balega Silver no-show socks for hot weather and the Smartwool socks for cold weather.

Related: Running Socks Vs. Regular Socks: What’s the difference?


Your body absorbs the impact of 3-4x your body weight when running. Since you’re heavier and your unlikely to have developed the proper running form yet, it’s best if you can choose a running shoe that has a high level of cushion.

Go for shoes like Brooks Glycerine 19 which has a soft cushion that could help decrease the impact your body receives.

Running Watch

Although this is optional, a running watch will help you keep track of important data you can use to determine your performance.

If you want to take the scientific approach to losing weight through running, it helps if you can keep track of your calories burned, heart rate, and plot your performance over time. A running watch does them for you.

One of the more popular watches in the market is the Garmin Forerunner 745, but they’re quite expensive. If you’re looking for cheaper Garmin alternatives, you can check out this article that I made where I provided alternatives to popular Garmin running watches.

7 Tips For The Overweight Runner

#1 Run At a Comfortable Pace

Contrary to what you see in movies and social media videos, running doesn’t have to be sprints. Sure, they’re cool to watch, but they won’t get you anywhere if you’re only doing them for 3 mins.

Instead, run at a comfortable pace. Aim or a pace where you can still maintain a conversation and try to hold it for as long as possible. If you’re starting to get out of breath, walk.

#2 Alternate Running And Walking

Another strategy is to alternate running and walking. One way to do this is to set a running interval followed by a walking interval.

For example, you can run for 2 mins and walk for 2 mins. Once you get comfortable with that, try running for 3 mins and walking for the same amount of time.

Manipulate running and walking intervals based on your current level of fitness. Don’t be afraid to experiment and change up the intervals. Every person is different so a general prescription might not work for everyone.

You could also do fartlek training where your pace isn’t predetermined, rather, it’s highly dependent on how you feel. I made an entire article that explains fartlek training in detail. If you want to know more about it, you can check it out.

#3 Reduce Your Calorie Intake

You might have heard the phrase “You can’t outrun a bad diet”. It is true.

Losing weight is simple, burn more calories than you intake. And the only way to do that is to pair exercise with a calorie deficit.

As a general rule, you need to burn around 500 calories a day to lose about a pound a week.

Jogging for a mile burns about 100 calories. So if you run a mile today, you have to reduce your calorie intake by 400 to reach a calorie deficit of 500.

#4 Be Consistent

Running a mile or two every other day beat running 5 miles every weekend. Aim for consistency rather than difficulty.

#5 Increase Your Runs Gradually

Increase your runs over time, but do it gradually.

As a general rule, you should increase the distance of your runs by no more than 10% each week. This will allow you to safely adapt to a new challenge and ease yourself to a higher running mileage.

Related: How Many Miles Do Runners Run a Week? (A Running Mileage Guide)

#6 Don’t Worry About Intensity

A lot of overweight people are afraid to run because they believe they can’t run at a certain intensity that will allow them to lose weight.

But the truth is, you don’t have to run at a high intensity to lose weight. So don’t think that being overweight and unfit is an obstacle to losing weight.

#7 Run In a Loop Or Laps

Running in a loop or laps allows three things. One, to keep track of your distance and challenge yourself to add one more loop or lap.

Two, it allows you to put your things in one place so you don’t have to bring a bottle of water everywhere you go.

And three, in case you need to stop and rest, the distance to your house or car is nearer as supposed to having to walk another mile or two to get home.

Sample Running Program For The Overweight Runner

This program aims to build the habit of running while reducing the pressure of having to run at faster speeds. Instead of setting a total distance, we will set a total duration. You can either run it or walk it. But you have to keep moving forward for the whole duration of the session.

This program is performed at a low to moderate intensity so it’s safe to add this workout to your existing exercise regimen (if you have one).

According to the American Council on Exercise, a 180 lbs person jogging burns 13.9 calories per minute. The heavier you are, the more calories you burn. But let’s assume you’re at 180 lbs. You can expect to burn around 208 calories per session on your first week and up to 417 calories per session on your 8th week.

This varies whether you’re running, jogging or walking. Generally speaking, the more effort you put into an activity, the more calories you burn. In other words, running burns more calories than jogging and walking.

Related: Running Vs Jogging: What’s The Difference? (Comparison Chart)

Remember to cut back on your calorie intake (in other words, reduce the amount of food you eat). Aim to reduce your calorie intake by 500 each day.

Week 1

  • Monday: 15 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 15 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 15 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 2

  • Monday: 17 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 17 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 17 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 3

  • Monday: 19 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 19 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 19 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 4

  • Monday: 21 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 21 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 21 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 5

  • Monday: 23 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 23 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 23 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 6

  • Monday: 25 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 25 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 25 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 7

  • Monday: 27 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 27 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 27 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

Week 8

  • Monday: 30 mins jog/walk
  • Tuesday: Rest
  • Wednesday: 30 mins jog/walk
  • Thursday: Rest
  • Friday: 30 mins jog/walk
  • Saturday-Sunday: Rest

You can change it up to make it fit your current fitness level. Or you can follow it as it is.

Over time you will start to feel more and more comfortable with running. You will start to run a little bit more and walk a little bit less.

Keep your runs at a comfortable pace. put 60-70% effort into your run/walk. If you start breathing hard, slow down and recover.

If you have a heart rate monitor or a running watch. You can try to keep your heart rate at 60-70% of your maximum heart rate which is calculated by 220 – your age.

For example, if your age is 30 years old, your maximum heart rate is 190 bpm. Therefore, you should keep your heart rate between 114 bpm and 133 bpm.

Take note of the total distance you covered for the whole duration of your run. Again, this is much easier if you have a running watch, but you can also keep track of your distance using your phone.

Related: Do You Really Need A GPS Watch To Run? (Or Is a Phone Fine?)

Final Thoughts

Your first run is your first step towards losing weight. However, lots of people bail out after a few runs because it’s hard and uncomfortable. Well, it doesn’t have to be.

Exercise doesn’t have to be hard. It only has to be consistent. So if you’re comfortable jogging/walking your way out of the 200 lbs club, that’s okay. In fact, even better.

But what should you expect in your first run? I created a simple guide to your first run in another article. Be sure to check it out.

Nicho Mauricio

Running wasn't always my favorite sport. I was a CrossFit athlete and I loved every bit of it. But since the pandemic began, I was forced to stay away from the gym and train at home instead. Things got boring. That's when I decided to trail run with my friends. I instantly got hooked. So I started training and researching all things running. As a beginner, I want to buy only the best running gear and do only the best practices. This blog is where I share what I've learned in my journey and my experiences as a runner.

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