I get a fair number of emails asking for running advice, and I answer woefully few of them. (I don’t even answer lots of my work emails these days; I get about 70 daily and if a particular email is not among the 20 that require immediate attention—unless it arrives fortuitously in an interstice of activity—it may not get answered for weeks, if ever.)
So I’m calling out to the experienced Maggots to help me with the following questions. Some of the issues call in part for medical expertise, but many do not, and I know that my readers are steeped in Maggot and other wisdom and could answer some of these better than I could even if I had the time.
Please help me address the following:
Question 1, from Liza:
Do you have any tips on running to lose weight? I gained a lot of weight about a year and a half ago after going on SSRIs—I’m 5'4'' and in less than 6 months went from 125 lbs to 160. The weight gain was probably due to a combination of the meds and no longer being depressed (during the worst of my depression I had truly no appetite). My shrink and primary doc have told me not to worry too much about now technically being overweight, and I trust them. Clearly, suicidal ideation is much more dangerous for my health than the extra pounds. I am in pretty good shape—I bike to work everyday (about 15 miles total) and swam regularly over the summer. However, I would like to lose at least some of the weight, both for vanity reasons and out of concern for my health. I started running a month ago with the hopes of losing weight, and while I feel great with the extra exercise, my weight hasn’t budged. In fact, I actually GAINED a couple pounds. So any tips on how a beginning runner ramp it up and start losing some weight? I’m not totally opposed to dieting, but I already eat very healthfully, so I feel like there’s only so far I can go on that end.
Quick answer: read this post, but I know there’s a lot more you all could offer.
Question 2, from Kristi:
So. Have always had the motto “If I’m running, follow me 'cause some bad shit’s happening behind me.” I have exercise-induced asthma, environmental allergies, and bad knees.
BUT. I’m sick of feeling like crap and want to eventually be able to run without my lungs spasming. I also want to be able to run with my high-energy dog in hopes of finally wearing her out for once.
How can these two things happen together? How can I train myself to run with these three problems (I’ve read all of your advice on running as far as I’m aware, and have never seen a “I have a clusterfuck of RUNNING HATES ME problems, halp” post, but maybe I missed one) without some serious issues, and how can I train my dog to run with me?
Quick answer: You’re going too fast. Almost anyone can run despite many strikes against you if you do it slowly and carefully. And, this sounds a lot like exercise-induced asthma. Other advice from the Maggot gallery?
Question 3, from Covered in Issues and Wanting to Run:
So, I’ll start by saying that I have been walking with only a tiny bit of running, because hey you have to start somewhere right? Every other day for the last 2 weeks…and I LOVE it! I love the running part of it. It’s addicting. I’ve always wanted to be a runner, but let’s face it… I’m SO CLUMSY and SO OVERWEIGHT that I thought it was pretty much not even feasible.
Here’s the rundown on the issues I’m facing and would like to overcome because I HAVE to get my health in check before I become diabetic like my parents or have a heart attack like every other fat person. I’m 26, 5'11'', 290 lbs (I was 311 post-baby, so I’ve been working). I have severely touchy asthma. I lose breath (not just get out of breath, but my lungs tighten up) when I am physically active, have a cold, during allergy season, you get the picture. I’ve been running, but only for 1-2 minutes at a time because I get SO out of breath I can hardly see straight; I’m also getting the WICKED side cramps.
Now, I’m starting to get shin splints. Last time I got shin splints was in middle school PE and within a week they became stress-fractures (in both tibias) and I had to be in a wheelchair for 2 weeks. Suffice it to say I can’t afford to have a 1 year old and be in a wheel chair, and I decided to run to make me HEALTHIER, so WHAT the hell am I supposed to do!?!! I don’t have health insurance (yet: it’ll start in December), so going to the doctor is limited. I’m considering going just for a new inhaler.
I would appreciate any and all help you can give me. Thanks in advance for even reading this!
Quick answer: Yet again I say, SLOW DOWN. Side cramps = going too fast. Re: asthma—you will have a hard time without an inhaler. Other advice?
Question 4, from Didi:
What do you think about Jeff Galloway’s Run Walk Run? I tried getting myself into running slowly by your method some time ago and kept getting short of breath—realized it was exercise-induced bronchospasm and did better with some albuterol, but then my enthusiasm kind of faded. A friend convinced me recently to sign up for a half marathon (it was 8 months away at the time), and I have actually been running 2-3x/week using Run Walk Run (this is a lot for me since I’m a 2nd year resident with a 6yo and always exhausted). I’m in a rut in the sense that I’ve been having a lot of trouble increasing the run portion and the total run/walk time (haven’t gotten beyond running for 2.5 min max before walking and beyond 40 min total run/walk). I’d appreciate any advice!
Quick answer: Slow … oh for heaven’s sake you know the rest. If you can’t increase the amount of time you’re running and keep having to walk, you’re running too fast. Maggots? What say you?
Question 5, from Amy:
Do you have any tips for running with rheumatoid arthritis? (Don’t worry, of course this is not a substitute for real medical advice from my doc!) I’m a young person (and med student) who used to be a dedicated runner—NEVER fast, but used to run 6-8 miles most days and LOVED it (college). Diagnosed with RA last year, quit even trying to run b/c of the pain. Whenever I’ve asked about exercise, I’m told “well, if it doesn’t hurt it’s ok, if it hurts don’t do it.” Thanks guys. But I really miss running, and it’s the most convenient way to exercise with my schedule. Problem is that every time I get excited about trying it again is when I’m in a flare … Thanks, love your blog!
Quick answer: running most days instead of every other day is a recipe for injury, so if you’re doing that again, STOP. What else?
Help them out, Maggots.