The Ins and Outs of an Ordinary Life

Thursday, October 02, 2008

Fat Speed.....An Oxymoron?

P.S. Congratulations to Katie, Eve and Carolyn, they are all extraordinary Tough woMen!

Last Sunday, my friend Jill and I cheered on our girl Katie who was competing in her first half iron/toughman triathlon (1.2 mi swim, 56 mi bike, 13.1 mi run). It took her 6+ hours to finish, so even though we didn't get there until she was out there on her bike, we still had lots of time to sit and chat and well, enjoy the scenery! There was a good amount of eye candy, athletic hard bodies coming and going (Jill and I quickly discovered we have very different preferences. She likes men with powerful legs and with a little more meat on their frames, the better to storm up the hills on a bike; I prefer the leaner look, the weight lifting runner boys).

Every once in a while, a fat traithlete would pass by. It was impossible to tell how competitive they are, since everyone is moving at the same speed more or less in the transition area, but the fact that they were powering themselves through a 70.3 mile traithlon course speaks volumes. I know that size and weight are related to speed and endurance, but clearly that is a small part of the equation (otherwise, I would be a speed demon!). But it is widely accepted in the cycling community that riding a lightweight bicycle isn't going to make a big difference going uphill if you're moving an extra 20+ pounds up that hill. If you want to get faster, you have to jettison the extra pounds. On the other hand, triathlons often have Clydesdale (men over 200 lbs) and Athena (women over 160 lbs) categories and many of these athletes are very competitive. There are some Athenas and Clydesdales in the bike club and most of them ride faster than I do!
Then on Tuesday at Masters Swim Team workout, we were joined by Big Tom. Tom is at least 50 pounds overweight. I don't know how much swimming experience he has, but on Tuesday he swam far and fast. Does being horizontal in the pool negate the impact of gravity and those extra pounds? Although I don't recall seeing any Olympic swimmers with "love handles."

So is fat speed an oxymoron? Can you be an overweight competitive athlete? Does being fat decrease performance more over longer race courses? How much faster (or slower) would these athletes be if they lost weight? Should I worry about fat or formerly fat triathletes passing me on all 3 events? Should I start training with a 20 pound weight vest?

1 comment:

Jon said...

At my first triathlon, there was a guy with a Keg rolling over his swim trunks and he killed me in the swim. Its all about technique in the water!

Although on the bike it was a different story....