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Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Book Review: Slow Fat Triathlete

Slow Fat Triathlete: Live Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have NowSlow Fat Triathlete is more than about being slow, fat and running triathlons (although it does talk about that a great deal), it's about starting with what you are right now and improving yourself. "If you want to do something about where you're at, the key is to take a stab at it, start slow, go easy on yourself and keep plodding along.", because when it comes down to it for everyone at some point in their life there is something to which we are "slow, fat triathletes" and we will never change that until we start working on it. The author, Jayne Williams was approaching 300 lbs when she decided that she was going to get into shape. She started walking long distances and improving her diet, after awhile she started running and eventually decided to enter the world of triathlon. She's funny, informative and inspiring and if you ever considered running a tri or just getting into better shape I recommend reading this book.
Quotes from this book that relate to life beyond tri:
  • Life is way too short and precious to worry about what other people think when you're out doing something.
  • You don't even have to believe positive affirmations for them to work.
  • You are what you are right now. When the rosebud is still forming a little green ball, do you berate it for not being in full bloom? Hell no!
  • Stress and fatigue can also contribute to losing your sense of humor, or misplacing it temporarily.
  • Your setbacks are temporary. Your obstacles are just there to make it all a better story. Your physical and mental limitations are just part of the package. Go out and sweat, but don't sweat it.
  • One of the biggest challenges in triathlon is the discipline of patience. You can't get there in a day of a week, maybe not even in a year, depending on where your starting point is and what your goals are.
  • Have a plan.
Useful tips that relate more to triathlons and exercise:
  • It doesn't matter what you do. Just do something. Human bodies are built to move, and when you move you experience and stregthen parts of yourself that are deep and elemental....When you get your body to the place where you can feel that joy, you've done yourself and everyone around you a huge favor.
  • Don't go to hard in the beginning
  • Stretch!
  • You shouldn't increase your workout load by more than ten percent each week and you should back down on a the milage a few weeks before the big event.
  • Believe that your body, like any body was made to be moved and that any body in motion is a glorious thing.
  • The mental part of training/racing is at least as important as the physical, if not more.
  • Practice your transitions.
  • Never exercise in cotton.
  • Triathlons come in all sorts of different lengths. Here are the most common ones: beginner (200 yard swim, 5 mile bike, 2.5k run), sprint (820 yard swim, 12 mile bike, 5k run), olympic distance (1.5 km swim, 40 km ride, 10 km run), long course (1.9 km swim, 90 km ride, 21.1 km run) and ultra distance (3.8 km swim, 180 km ride, and a marathon: 42.2 km run).
Things that I learned from my first triathlon experience:
  • Fitting in exercise is hard. I work full-time, my husband is trying to cram a second degree in two semesters, I have small children, it's cold/hot/rainy, I'm tired, blah, blah,blah. I can always find reasons not to exercise. However, none of those excuses change the fact that my physical condition is not going to change unless I get moving. Having an immenent goal/deadline/sentance makes me exercise even when it's not convienent.
  • There are many types of triathlon apparel. Your apparel is very important and not just for asthetic reasons. There are wetsuits if you are swimming outdoors. There are onepiece trisuits. There are trishorts and tritops. Trishorts have enough padding between the legs to reduce soreness from the bike seat, but not so much that it is cumbersome to swim in them. Trishorts come in various lengths; "knickers" (like capris) 8", 7", 6", 5", 3" and "bikini" (not really what you normally think of as a bikini bottom, but more of a hotpant). Tritops are tanks with built-in sports bras, although some tri-tanks don't have sports bras, which seems pretty darn pointless to me, and some people do the whole race in a Lycra sports bra. I opted for 8" shorts and a tritop. I paid for 2 day shipping. The day before the race my stuff still had not shown up. (The week after the race they sent me an email saying that the shorts were unavailable. That's nice.) There was not a store locally that carried any trigear in my size. Fantastic. So I wore my Speedo, pulled my yoga pants and a top on at T1 and finished the race in that. Wardrobe changes dramatically slow down your transitions. Not to mention that the wrong clothing can become cumbersome in the race. Now before the race I would never had considered wear bikini trishorts and a sportsbra in public. But halfway through the run leg on an afternoon in St George, if I could have waved a magic wand to change my outfit to that I would have, and I didn't even care who would see me. Running a triathlon is not about being sexy or glamorous, it's about pushing yourself to accomplish something.
  • Doing a triathlon can be a lot of fun, especially if you are doing it with someone else.

Note: if you are looking for a motivating book about exercising, but don't think that triathlon is your thing, check out Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete: 50 Ways to Kick Butt on the Field, in the Field or at the Gym--No Matter What Your Size or Shape. I haven't read it yet, but it's by the same author, and if it's it's anything like her first, it will be helpful. And it has a 4 star rating on Amazon.


  1. This book looks awesome. Do you know of any books similar to this that just focus on the running part? Or would this book also work for training for a 5K or whatever? I know I would never, ever do a triathlon because I'm not a swimmer....but I might be able to get my slow, fat self out for a race!

  2. I found a book on Amazon for $4 that looks good and listed it above. Also I have to say that I am also not a swimmer, in fact I am a really terrible swimmer, but I was able to finish and that's all that I cared about.