Here's the skinny: I've been near 300 lbs. for years and need to lose weight. I'm married to a wonderful lady, and we have a family. One of our boys often asks if I'll run with him. I've always had to tell him, "No." In August of '09, my wife learned about a couch-to-5k running program, and I agreed to try it with her. This blog chronicles our progress on that training program. I hope I'll soon be able to surprise my son by telling him, "Yes, I'll go running with you!"

Saturday, September 5, 2009

Day 6 -- Mrs. F's

It was strange.

I was almost disapointed to realize I wasnt going to run today. This is spoken from a woman who has despised running all of her life. I "walked" our mile run in high school gym class. I avoided anything and everything to do with running. And to find that I actually "want" to run?? Im starting to think someone better check me into the nearest mental health facility.

I even found myself exhausted yet still having the desire to take a bike ride. Again, maybe time to check on that mental health again!

My legs are feeling fabulous!!! Even the right leg, which I was favoring a bit on Thursday and Friday feels great.

1 week down, 8 more to go!!!

Mrs. F

Day 6

Yippie! It's a Saturday. No running today. Honestly, I feel pretty good. My calves were only sore during the morning on Friday, and they've been pretty good since. I'm a bit tired today, but I think that's more from making a trip in to the city to get my son some new spikes. Driving a few hours in the middle of the day will do that to me.

I had a pretty big breakfast, a light lunch, and am just getting ready to have dinner now. I'm not counting calories, but I am watching my portions.

I took a short bike ride this morning, but nothing major. If anything, since starting this couch-to-5k program, I've found biking a little harder. I'm not sure if it's just having used the legs more, of it is because they use two different sets of muscles.

Anyway, I'm going to finish dinner and watch a movie with the family.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Friday weight check -- Mrs. F

Starting weight : 182.8

Todays weight : 180.8

Loss/gain : -2

Pounds to lose: 30.8

Friday weight check

FatManRunning: 295.2 lbs.
Last Friday: 300.4

Today: 295.2

Gain/Loss: -5.2

Goal: 210.0 lbs.

Pounds to lose: 85.2

Our Couch to 5k reference site

We found our couch-to-5k program at the CoolRunning website ( The exact URL for the program information is located at

Day 5 (Week 1 training complete)

I don't know if it was our late night and lack of sleep, or if it was the cold, foggy air, but today felt more like Monday. I was breathing harder earlier, and I really strained in each of the first six running segments. As I ended the third one, my thoughts jumped ahead to the weeks ahead, and I found myself thinking, "Why am I doing this to myself."

Let me get down to physical inventory. My quads/thighs didn't bug me at all when I got up. Suprisingly, as I sit for a moment to write this post, they're not sore at all despite having just returned home from our training routine. Where I feel it more today is in my calves--they feel tight and a bit sore--and in my lower back, in the muscles just above my pelvis. I felt a little stiffness in my right ankle today--likely tied to an unlar break I had some years ago that left a small bone chip at my ankle. I'll watch for any trouble there (my doctor said we would remove it only if it ever started causing me trouble). I also felt a little bit of strain just below the kneecap on the inner side of my left leg--probably just another reminder of an injury, though this one was from over 20 years ago.

One thing was pretty neat today--we clearly covered more ground. There's a cross street down the trail some distance. I hadn't even seen it on Monday or Wednesday, but we made it across it today. Our pace was good both going out and coming back in, because we ended right where we started. Mrs. FatManRunning was ahead of me on the first half of the sets today, but I was closer to her pace nearing the end. On the final run, I actually pulled ahead a little bit. Before I could get a big head about, Mrs. FatManRunning informed me that she felt she was running a bit slower today, because she felt a cold coming on.

I wonder how much the cold, foggy air affected our breathing. She indicated that breathing was harder today, too.

It feels really good to have gotten through this first week. I'm a little scared about going into next week. Increasing our running time from 60 to 90 seconds during each set may not seem like a lot to you, but it might as well be a cross-country run to me.

I was a little smarter today. I only took my driver's license and our car keys. We still brought the phone, too. I'm going to go in to work at 7:30 AM today, instead of 7 AM, so that bought me the time I needed to make this post while things are still fresh in my mind.

Our eldest son's race went well yesterday. It felt good to know that our secret plan was well under way. One week down. Eight weeks to go.

Thursday, September 3, 2009

Day 4 (late update)

Just got back from the hospital a little bit ago. One of our other kids fell and needed some stitches. Nothing too serious, but definately something that kept us up longer than expected. We were trying to get to bed by 9 PM so we'd be fully rested when we get up at 5 AM. Oh well! Life doesn't always cooperate with our plans. I'm headed to bed.

Day 4

It's day four, a Thursday, and that means it's a no-running day. Fine by me. My legs (again, mostly my thighs/quads) were a bit sore this morning, but they are otherwise okay. Mrs. FatManRunning noticed that she could see some little changes in the muscle on my legs. [I've always been blessed to have much less fat on my legs. Part of it may be how much I enjoy biking, but I believe carrying around my 300 lb. (+/-) frame all these years forced my legs to stay strong.] She might have been saying that to make me feel good, but I think I can see little changes, too. Let's see...apart from my upper legs, I have a little bit of soreness in my lower back, but nothing significant.

Overall, I feel pretty good. I feel pretty alert and clear headed. I had been a bit fuzzy lately, in part due to some of my medical issues (my sugars have been high, among other things). Blood sugar readings have been good yesterday and today--nothing above where it should be waking, before meals, and two hours after meals. [My doctor will be really glad to hear that.]

I got the lab results back from Friday's tests. My cholesterol has improved a few points, but my triglycerides are up. Also, the tests confirmed some of my own suspicions: my kidneys are dumping protein into my urine. That explains the metallic taste in my mouth, the unusual level of fatigue I've been feeling, and my frothy urine. The levels are not too high, so my doctor is going to keep watching them over the next few montsh. We both hope that this exercise program and my commitment to making better choices will help lower my sugar levels, thereby eliminating the renal (kidney) problem.

I guess you could say I'm in the honeymoon stage of this training program. I'm very excited about it, and have been telling friends and work and even complete strangers about it. I even emailed customer service at Asics, to tell them I started this couch-to-5k program, and to tell them that I've been impressed with their running shoes that have kept the feet of this 300 lb. man comfortable as my footfalls pound the trail surface. Can you imagine how surprised I was when, shortly after sending the message, I received a personal reply! The short message had some encouraging words and asked me to keep them informed regarding my progress. It also requested our contact information, as the representative wanted to send us something " help [us] achieve [our] goals." I'm man enough to admit it: I was just about moved to tears.

When I replied, I included a link to this blog, so I guess I've formally gone public with our 'secret' plan.

Tomorrow is the last day we run this week, so our first week is nearing completion as a success. I still have a lot of doubts, though. This program goes on for another eight weeks! I'm supposed to be able to run three miles by the time we're done. Those goals seem too distant and unattainable right now. I can't do eight weeks and I can't do three miles, but I can get up early tomorrow morning and do my 25 minutes. I think I'll take it that way for a while: one day at a time!

Oh, I'll also try to get my weight recorded tomorrow, so I may chart my progress. I don't know if Mrs. FatManRunning will want to post her's here. I'll leave that to her. I invited her to write some posts, but I don't know if she'll take me up on the offer just yet.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Day 3

We got up at 5 AM today, to make sure we'd be done in time to get home, cleaned up, and me off to work by 7 AM.

My legs were sore, but better than yesterday. I was still not sure how the running would go.

Before leaving, I ate one piece of toast with some peanut butter on it. Our son's coach tells him to eat light if running in the morning. I have a water bottle with me today.

My watch has a second hand and an illuminated face. Seeing it in the pre-dawn dark isn't a problem, but trying to read it from my wrist while running was, so I carried it today. That was much, much easier. I could hold it up to my face and hold it pretty steady.

The routine today was the same as Day 1 (it's the same all three days this week):

  • Warm up with a 5 minute brisk walk
Then, complete eight sets of the following
  • Jog/run 60 seconds
  • Walk 90 seconds
Today, I was really surpised. My legs were still sore as we did our warm up walk, but when our first running phase started, I didn't notice it. In fact, it was kind of odd. It was almost like my legs had been waiting to run again. We'll see how that pans out again on Friday.

I didn't even bother to match Mrs. FatManRunning's pace or stride today. I just sped up to my run when the time came, and slowed to walk again at the right time. She was always ahead of me, but would curve back toward me and then we would walk together (after I scolded her for stopping to wait for me the first time). The walking parts on Monday seemed really short. Today, they seemed just about right. My biggest surprise was that, although it wasn't easy by any means, I didn't find myself already beat by the halfway point. In fact, when I got back to the car, I was only as beat as I felt at the halfway point on Monday. I figured I would get used to the activity level, but I did not expect to be able to perceive such a change so early on.

We opted to still carry a cell phone (just in case), but it was the smaller of the ones available to us. I still carried my wallet, but didn't notice it so much today. I swapped my stocking cap for a ball cap. I kept that on the whole time--it was not too hot to wear.

Dare I say it? I felt pretty good at the end of our morning routine. I can't say it was any sort of runner's high, but I just felt good the way I did in the spring when I finished turning our new garden plot by hand. It was that combination of having worked hard and seeing something finished, and that sensation you get when you are dead tired for the right reasons, I guess.

The hardest thing about ending this set was getting back into the car. My quads burned. I put my first foot in and went to sit down, and my body objected. I mean, I could force it, but knew it would hurt. I pulled the foot back out, turned sideways, and set my butt down into the seat first, then swung my legs in. It hurt, but it hurt less.

The ups and downs were still bugging me late in the day, so I deliberately did a few squats (with my arms extended to each side). Surprisingly, they seemed to help a bit. I was still sore, but didn't dread the ups and downs as much. Maybe I'm just a big baby.

Bedtime calls. Mrs. FatManRunning was smarter than I and headed to bed about an hour ago. I'm so glad tomorrow is Thursday (no running!).

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Day 2

Waking up wasn't so bad, but getting out of bed reintroduced me to muscles I'd long forgotten. Getting on my trousers reinforced that reintroduction, as did getting up and sitting down. Actually the morning wasn't as bad as it has been later today. Biking to work hurt more today. I think I'm actually doing okay. I mean the pain isn't so bad as to be debilitating. I'm just sore--that good kind of sore that can come after a long day of work. I think all the biking I've been doing has at least kept it from being worse.

Mrs. FatManRunning has pain in her lower back. Mine is only in my legs--my thighs, actually. No pain in my knees or ankles, and that's a good thing.

I don't feel like moving much today. Of course, today is the day everyone at work needs me to move around to help them. Okay. I can do this. I just don't know what tomorrow morning will be like if my legs hurt this much when I get up.

Lunch was interesting. I was pretty full after eating only a little bit. Hmm--don't know if that is just coincidence, or an after-effect of yesterday's exertion.

I found my gloves. At least my hands will be warm tomorrow.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Day 1 (Begin Week 1)

The plan is set up so you train three days a week. We chose Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. This was the first day. I'm going to number each day, because the days in between are just as important (for resting and for noting how we feel).

My wife and I woke up just after 5 AM. We've decided to run in the morning. She's not a morning person, but we both are exhausted at the end of the day. I've also wanted to get up earlier to get an earlier start at work (to get off earlier), so this was a way to kill two birds with one stone.

I wasn't quite sure I'd even be able to do the full first day routine. I mean, I'm a big guy, I've had shin splint problems before, and I know that jogging/running can be hard on the knees. Let's face it--I'm 300 lbs. I feared those problems would beset me right away.

While picking up shoes yesterday, I picked up a pair of loose shorts. I knew it would be cold in the morning, but figured I would be warm running. That was the case. It was about 45°F when we got up. I wore boxer briefs (over the years I found they help prevent chafing), my new shorts, a long-sleeve athletic shirt, a fleece vest, and a stocking cap. The cap proved useful during our warm-up walk, but I had to take it off soon thereafter.

We ran on a trail near our home (where our early risers would not see us). We drove to the trail, so I carried my wallet, keys, and a cell phone, and I wore a watch. I insisted on the cell phone in case things went badly and my wife needed to call 9-1-1. She was not pleased when I explained why we were taking the phone. My wife took a water bottle. I didn't think to bring one.

Here was the first day routine. Basically, warm up for five minutes and then alternate between jogging and walking for 20 minutes:
  • 5 minute brisk walk (warm-up)
Then, this pattern repeated 8 times:
  • 60 seconds jogging/running
  • 90 seconds walking
So, at the end of the warm-up walk, we immediately started jogging for 60 seconds, reverted to walking, switched back to running, etc. Since each set of walking and running covered two and a half minutes (I did the math before we left), we did four sets outbound on the trail, and four sets returning toward our car. We had handled our warm-up walk the same way: 2.5 minutes out and 2.5 minutes back. During the warmup, I did need to stop to adjust my left shoe twice. It felt a little snug across the top from the laces.

The first bit of running was okay. I used to run to catch the bus from time to time when we lived in the city, so I knew I could sprint short distances. I watched the clock and announced when it was time to switch back to walking. I announced the change to running about 10-15 seconds early, to get ready. The second bit was okay, too, which surprised me. I took off my hat, because I was feeling warm, but my hands were cold. I have some light gloves I should bring with next time.

I wasn't quite recovered by the time we started the third, so I had to try harder to keep running. I found myself checking my watch and hoping to see us close to the next change, only to find the first half just slipping by. I felt the phone, keys, and wallet bouncing in my vest pockets. I didn't like that at all.

At the transition to walking, I thought about asking Mrs. FatManRunning if we should cut it short. Surely the program was written for normal couch potatoes, not obese men like me. She wasn't complaining, so I kept my mouth shut (about the running). I had to focus on catching my breath.

The fourth one was the beginning of a bit of misery. My heart was pounding and I was just beat. I could taste the lactic acid building in the back of my throat. I shortened my stride, and Mrs. FatManRunning pulled a bit ahead. She did that for the rest of our sets today. With this run finished, we turned around and started walking back (we should have walked the 90 seconds before turning around, but it turned out okay).

The fifth and sixth were more of the same, except that I was now sweating profusely. When jogging, the breeze evaporated the sweat and made me cold. When walking, my upper back was almost too hot. My hands were very cold, so I put them in the vest pockets. My walking now was labored, too.

The seventh run and walk were just as hard. Mrs. FatManRunning and I joked about those people who claimed a "runner's high". I said I need a t-shirt that says "I hate endorphins." At least we still had our sense of humor.

We ran and walked our last set, but I'm guessing our "run" would have looked pretty pitiful to any passers-by. We ended right near the lot where we parked--something for which I was thankful. When we got into the car, I just sat there, taking in big, labored breaths. I reclined the seat a bit. Mrs. FatManRunning shared her water with me. The lactic acid taste was strong. I rinsed my mouth and spit, took a mouthful, then gagged, and had spit it out. I felt a wave of nausea. I waited about a minute and took a small drink. Then I reclined the seat a bit and caught my breath.

We were both beat, but it wasn't as bad as I thought it might be (I had expected joint pain, shin splints, or an ambulance). We drove home, stashed our gear, and I showered for work. The bike ride in was something else--my muscles protested vociferously.

Although I was beat, it felt good to realize that I did it. I completed the first day. I'm so glad I don't need to try this again tomorrow.

Introduction - Mrs. F

I'm Mrs. F, short for Mrs. FatManRunning. Its a little easier to type and much easier to figure out which of us is posting!

I am starting out this journey of running and weight loss at 182.8 lbs. My weight has bounced from low to high over these last 15 years and I am now in a position where Im ready to lose. I need to lose just over 30 lbs to be at a healthy weight for my 5'6 frame.

I began the summer with plans to become more active. I figured more trips to the park, maybe some hiking or biking around town. I thought maybe that would be enough to start taking off a pound a week. Alas this was not enough.

One of my children is a runner and loves to run whenever and wherever he can. He has asked several times over to run. My response was always a resounding NO! Despite my intense dislike of running, I found myself pondering, this summer, if I might be able to jog. I had no idea where to start or even how much or how little to run in the beginning. I mentioned my thoughts to a friend and she recommended I check out Couch to 5k.

I googled the program. I began to think "hey maybe I can do this". Couch to 5k is designed specifically for slackers like me who have never run before. The big benefit to this program is in its timeframe. Its set in doable chunks of time!

So I mentioned this to FatManRunning and indicated that I was thinking of trying this crazy thing called running. He surprised me by saying, "Maybe I'll join you too." And thus our secret plan was born.

One of the fun parts of this journey for me is keeping this a secret from our kids, especially our runner! The thought of being able to complete a 5k race and have them surprised at the finish line is a definite motivator for me!

The journey begins!


I'm calling myself FatManRunning. At a medical appointment on Friday, August 28, I weighed in at 300 lbs. That's a return to that weight for me, after dropping from a high of 348 lbs. back in 1998/1999 and making a slow drop to the sub-300 mark. When I was at that high point, I was considered "morbidly obese" (at least twice my "ideal" weight), although most people thought my weight was nowhere near 300 lbs. (I'm very thick torsoed, but not ball or pear shaped in any way). The lowest I got was about 280, but then I've bounced up and down in the 290s for much of the past three years. When I hit 280, it felt good to say I had lost 70 lbs. without resorting to surgery or crazy diet fads. Little changes had paid off, but I find myself a bit older now, and more concerned about my health.

Before diving into my history, let me present the short form of my story: because my health demands that I lose weight, I agreed to join my wife in trying a "Couch to 5k" running program. This blog will chronicle my (hopefully, our) efforts, and will exist mostly to serve as a historical record. If, by chance, other readers find it, perhaps it will provide some inspiration, or at least a set of lessons to help them on their way.

We're calling this Operation Secret Plan because we've not told our kids what we are doing. We want to surprise them, especially our runner, by participating in a 5k run. They know we're going out to exercise three times each week, but that's all they know.

I'm still in the sub-40 age bracket, but I developed type II diabetes and sleep apnea during the past decade. At first, changes to my eating habits kept my blood sugar levels down, so I was able to go without medication, but the averages have been climbing again for a while. B ack on the medication I went, and the dosages have been getting higher. I've been using a CPAP (continuous positive air pressure) machine for years while I sleep (its a device that forces a constant stream of air into my nose while I sleep to keep my airways open), but I long for the freedom of sleeping without it. That condition has improved markedly from when I was first diagnosed (when I was still in the 330s and was not exercising much at all), so it is not as serious as it once was, but I still wear the mask every night. If I continue to lose weight, I might be able to ditch the machine.

Weight loss will also be the key to determining how long I survive with diabetes. Studies have shown that certain chemical factories in abdominal fat play a significant role promoting the insulin resistance that characterizes type II diabetes. Insulin is used by the body to help regulate blood sugar levels and to help muscles use sugars for energy. The bodies of people with type II diabetes produce insulin, but their muscles begin to resist insulin's role in helping them get energy from sugar. Because of this resistance, sugar levels build up in the bloodstream, and, over time, these elevated sugar levels can cause significant problems in the body, including damage to the eyes, neuropathy (a lack of feeling in the extemities), and kidney failure. At present, I'm awaiting my most recent set of lab results to find out if I'm experiencing early signs of kidney problems. My doctor has made it very clear that every 10 pounds I lose helps to lessen my body's insulin resistance. If I lose enough weight, I may effectively neutralize my diabetes. I would not be "cured" since something in my physiology has already changed, but I would be able to minimize the amount of time and directed effrot that is currently required to monitor and manage my condition, and I could long delay the more destructive stages of the disease well into old age.

About 15 months ago, I changed jobs so I could get away from 12-15 hours of weekly commuting. Because I now work closer to home, I started biking to work regularly, and through all seasons. Although my weight initially dropped after I started biking every day, it leveled off again. Sure, I'm in better cardiovascular health than I was before I was exercising regularly, but I still need to drop the weight.

My wife found information about this Couch-to-5k training program through an online friend. She's been wanting to lose some weight, too (though she's nowhere near sharing my obese condition), so I was impressed by her determination. She recently started biking regularly, and has been riding more miles some weeks than I ride. She told me a bit about the program, and I thought it sounded pretty interesting. The concept: begin by alternating walking and jogging for about 20 minutes a day, increase the amount of running each week, and--viola!--nine weeks later you are ready for a 5k run.

"That's not too far," I reasoned to myself. Before I realized what I was saying, however, I spoke up and said, "Maybe I'll do it with you."

Of course, it helps to realize that I had experienced a brain fart at the moment and mis-converted the kilometers into miles. My miscalulation was off by a factor of two. Thankfully, I didn't realize my mistake right away.

So, this afternoon, instead of enjoying a nap on the couch, I found myself in a store trying on running shoes. We have a son who loves to run, so we knew (from shopping with him and talking to his coach) which brands to investigate. I also have had enough life experience to realize that a cheap pair of tennis shoes would likely make us both miserable, and cause a premature end to the program. We each ended up selecting a pair of Asiscs running shoes.

Tomorrow is day one.