What Is A Good Starting 5k Time If You’re Obese?

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For obese individuals, not many physical activities are inclusive because of their fitness requirements. Running seems to be one where overweight people are cheered on and encouraged despite being at a disadvantage. And one of the best ways to tackle a physical challenge is to sign-up for a 5k.

But what is a good starting 5k time if you’re obese?

Obese people who have very little running experience average around 1 hour to finish their first 5k. This average time varies but weight, age, gender, and several other factors. When first starting to run 5k races it’s far more important to focus on improving your overall health before improving your finishing time.

In this article, you’ll discover several hacks to ensure that the 5k is healthy for you and that you can outperform your expectations. But first, we need to address how the 5k time varies by age, sex, and experience aside from obesity.

5K Starting Time: The Variables

The 5k starting time for the average runner is just over 22 minutes, so can you simply double that if you’re obese?


That’s because an obese person at their debut 5k is also a beginner. The average time for a beginner to run a 5k is around 30 minutes.

Depending on how obese the runner is, one hour to eighty minutes can be sufficient for running a 5k. In most cases, obese runners who have enough practice can finish a 5k run in 45 to 50 minutes.

A range of factors affects how you perform in a 5k and what your starting time should be. Age and gender play a role, with female runners having lighter bone mass and muscle weight and older participants requiring more breaks.

Starting with 1 hour as a base time, you can go through the chart below and figure out what a goal should be for you to shoot for:

FactorSituationTime To Add
AgeUnder 40?+0 Minutes
AgeThe obese runner is over 40+10 Minutes
SexThe obese participant is male-5 Minutes
SexThe obese participant is female+5 Minutes
ExperienceThe participant is overweight and has never run before+20 Minutes
ExperienceThe participant is overweight but is preparing for the 5k-10 Minutes

However, no matter what time you got from the chart, the only way to know for sure what time is a good goal for you is to start running. If you want to start running as a fat person you’ll want to ease into it to prevent shin splints, knee problems, etc.

If you can walk a 5k without stopping you should have a pretty good frame of reference for how much quicker you could do it in a race setting.

Running 5K for Obese People: 4 Best Practices

When you run a 5k, remember that you’re not really competing with other participants because your breathing rate, muscle-to-weight ratio, and past experience all factor into the physical limits of how well you can perform.

The 5k simply provides you with a decent deadline to aim towards while exercising your legs and raising your metabolic activity.

It is easy to get discouraged in any setting where someone else has a natural edge over you and cards are stacked against you. To avoid quitting, you should be realistic about your situation and go easy on yourself. Make the adjustments required to give yourself a break.

Aside from adjusting your 5k starting time, you can do the following to get the odds in your favor:

1. Get Your Bloodwork

You should consult your doctor before taking on a physical challenge like a 5k. If there’s enough time, she might recommend a preparation regimen to familiarize yourself with running long distances gradually.

More important than a doctor’s advice is an informed doctor’s advice. If you get your complete bloodwork from a medical lab, your doctor can better advise you regarding your fitness for a 5k.

2. Use the Right Shoes

While your weight can create a physical limit for your running velocity, the shoes you wear can work for or against you. Using the right pair of running shoes can make the experience more comfortable and may even increase your speed per step.

New Balance V3 Trail Running Shoes are available in a broad size range with a wide version of each size. If you find shoes too narrow despite being long enough for your size, New Balance’s size options work in your favor. Moreover, bringing trail running shoes to a flat 5k track is like bringing a gun to a knife fight.

These shoes are equipped with enough padding to keep you coasting regardless of your weight.

3. Alternate Between Running and Walking

The most important aspect of a 5k is momentum. If you run at full speed and then stop for a break, you lose your momentum and extend your recovery time. With a strategy-free run, you’ll be out of breath in a few minutes and will need at least as much time resting as you spent running.

The difficulty of running at full speed is not rewarded when you lose the edge by stopping still. In contrast, running at half the speed and switching to a brisk walk for an active rest can improve your mile coverage per minute.

A good starting point is to run for one minute and then walk for 2 minutes.

This gives you plenty of time to recover without reaching diminishing returns. Close to the end of your 5k, you’ll be running for 30 seconds and walking for 4 minutes because of quicker exhaustion.

In contrast, when you run at full speed for 2 minutes and then stop for a minute to rest, your resting time extends exponentially, and your active running time decreases to 10 seconds.

4. Hydrate Throughout the Run

Just like you cannot run full speed and then come to a standstill while you rest, you cannot drink a lot of water and then dehydrate yourself for a long period.

Get a bottle from which you can sip water throughout the run.

Do not chug or gulp water even if you feel like it. When water is consumed in a large enough quantity, it can make you nauseous. When you take little sips, the water simply replaces what is lost by breathing and sweating.

Recap: Good Starting 5k Times for Obese People

The best way to figure out your starting time for a 5k is to measure your running time for a mile, then multiply it by 3.8. But if you want to skip this and get the most comfortable time for obese beginners to start a 4k, you should start 50 to 60 minutes before the time you’re supposed to connect with the finish line.

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