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  1. #1
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    I thought doing an Ironman would make you lean and fit!

    At the weekend I went and watched the Taupo Ironman. To me the Ironman is like the ultimate athletic achievement. 3.8km swim, 180km ride than just a little 42km (marathon) run tagged on the end.

    Any trathlon is impressive but the Ironman is the ultimate. So I watch the leaders come out of the swim leg then followed them up to the transition area and watched them set off on their bikes. I then watched a lot of other athletes setting off on the bike leg. It was a big field so these guys had finished the swim pretty strongly. Watching both the men and woman competitors I could not believe how many fat, pot bellied, big a$$ overweight competitors I was seeing. All clad in lycra of course. I just couldn't believe it. If I trained for an event like that I would expect to be a lean, mean, racing machine. Not carrying a spare tyre around my gut.

    I just can't figure it out. Either these guys/gals were even fatter when they began training and have actually lost a lot of weight already or they think that all that training gives them licence to totally stuff themselves. Either way I'm surprised .

    I expected to see a bunch of supreme athletes and instead I saw a lot of extreme fatties. Fit fatties I guess but fatties nonetheless.

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    You ever done a bike race man? I've seen some of 'em at every race I've ever done, and sometimes they can really hammer. Since this is the internet, I'm going to go on record and say that I've never been beat by one of them... yeah, never.
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    In before the carnage.

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    Nope. I'm sure all those fatties can beat me. Just surprises me they are so fat. Energy in vs energy out? With all that training they're obviously eating way too much.

  5. #5
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    swimming is one of the easier legs for overweight people. I've seen overweight people do OK in Tri's. They won't ever be really good, b/c power to kg ratio is horrible. You give someone enough time, and just about anybody in decent shape can finish an IM tri.
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    Here in the US, we have this extremism culture. Someone decides it's time to get his 300 lb butt off the couch and make a change, he's likely to think big. Like, Ironman big.

    I'm happy for this hypothetical fatty, especially since like you say, finishing an Ironman triathlon is a pretty big accomplishment. Even if it does take all day.

    I think a lot of the time, it's not really a sustainable change, though. A surprising number of people who train for Something Big then sit their less-fat butts back down on the couch and gain the weight back.

    I also wish more people would think in terms of shorter, faster races. They're more fun, but traditional XC MTB racing in my region isn't doing well, and I think part of it is that everybody wants to do 50 miles or something. Which is also fun, but very different, and fits a lot better into thinking in terms of being in good to excellent shape all the time.
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    That's pretty surprising. I have watched the Kona Ironman several times and haven't seen a single overweight competitor at that event. I guess it depends on how difficult it is to qualify for the event.
    If you are impressed with Ironman as a competition, check out the Ultraman competition. Pretty crazy stuff.

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    How many of these "extreme fatties" were still in it when it counted, at the end? Just because you start one doesn't mean squat unless you're there at the finish.

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by ElDuderino2412 View Post
    swimming is one of the easier legs for overweight people. I've seen overweight people do OK in Tri's. They won't ever be really good, b/c power to kg ratio is horrible. You give someone enough time, and just about anybody in decent shape can finish an IM tri.
    The run is what really separates the men from the boys
    I agree. Swimming is about technique more so than fitness. You do need to be fit, but good technique will trump fitness most days. I am reasonably fit, but slow in the water. However extra weight on the bike is a killer in terms of speed.

    That said I give credit to anyone doing a Tri be it a sprint, Olympic, half or full Ironman. I did a sprint tri last December and did reasonably well. There were some really large people and slow at multiple phases, but at least there were out there doing it. Every Triathlete get a lot more respect from me than all the people that "talk" about it, but never do it. I had friends I tried to talk into doing short sprint tri (1 to 2hrs max duration) and most came up with excuses and bailed out. Hey you can be a fat 300 pounder, but if you are out there doing I give you credit. Anyone tackling an Ironman deserves even more credit. I would die on the run because my legs would give out. I don't have distance running muscle right now.
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    Quote Originally Posted by JoePAz View Post
    That said I give credit to anyone doing a Tri be it a sprint, Olympic, half or full Ironman. I did a sprint tri last December and did reasonably well. There were some really large people and slow at multiple phases, but at least there were out there doing it. Every Triathlete get a lot more respect from me than all the people that "talk" about it, but never do it. I had friends I tried to talk into doing short sprint tri (1 to 2hrs max duration) and most came up with excuses and bailed out. Hey you can be a fat 300 pounder, but if you are out there doing I give you credit. Anyone tackling an Ironman deserves even more credit. I would die on the run because my legs would give out. I don't have distance running muscle right now.
    To add to that it takes more balls to get out there in lycra when you are overweight than when you are fit. It is good that anybody no matter what shape they are in are out there being active
    Wish i could still do tri's but running is to high impact for my jacked up knee.
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    The 'big' events require qualification in a prior, certified Tri, and the people you describe can seldom do it. Thats why they aren't in the big one's such as Kona. Most events include Team categories, and that's where a good swimmer (not made for running) can do great and have a lot of fun, satisfaction. Our annual Ironman event uses many of our best bikers as team members.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Here in the US, we have this extremism culture. Someone decides it's time to get his 300 lb butt off the couch and make a change, he's likely to think big. Like, Ironman big.

    I'm happy for this hypothetical fatty, especially since like you say, finishing an Ironman triathlon is a pretty big accomplishment. Even if it does take all day.
    This is what I was also thinking. While I'm no skinny boy (205lbs) and race the Clydesdale class, I think a lot of people go this route as a test of individual determination.

    Also, when you come down from being huge, there's a lot of loose skin left over that turns into a "spare tire", so for those of you who have never been "big" - just a little education for the outsiders looking and judging.

    For me, Sea Otter will be the last race I do +200lbs, then I'm going down to a more suitable sub-200. I'm not a fat guy (34" waist, which I think is pretty decent), but I have years of weightlifting. I want to be light because I move better when I'm light. Climbs are easier and I expend less energy hauling extra weight.

    I'm sure most of these people (what the OP calls "fatties") are on their way to getting lighter - but if they aren't, I would say they are missing out on some valuable benefits to being lighter which I have found has improved my riding a lot.

    Loose skin, though... it can only be removed through a tummy tuck. It looks like fat under lycra.

  13. #13
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    I thought doing an Ironman would make you lean and fit!

    Part of the problem is that too many of us fatties (that would be me now) think exercise alone will get the lard off. Unfortunately diet is an important part of the equation, maybe the more important part. So you can do all the training for a tri but not be buff if you don't eat right. Me, I have a pig out problem and like beer. Oops.

    Speaking of training for tris, I don't friggin get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of training, which I have done extensively for mtb, road bike and XC ski racing. But tri training is all of some of these people's lives. Every hour of every day us planned out and centers around tris. It's a lifestyle and a subculture. Frankly the people bore the crap out if me. You can't do that **** and have any sort of a real life. No family, no kids, no non tri- geek friends. It's go to your job, train, maybe have a partner who is also a tri- geek, and train some more. BORING

    The great thing about mtb is that fun and exercise are combined in the best way I can think of besides skiing/snowboarding.

    Maybe the tri-geeks think I'm boring too. Fine. It's a free country

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  14. #14
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    Kona is the world championship, & you can only get there if you have completed a qualifying Iron Man event the same year. 2 Iron Man events in a single year is not an easy feat for even the most fit triathletes. And just completing a qualifying event is not enough: you need to either have a qualifying time or be chosen in a lottery.

    So you might see some fatties starting an Iron Man, but you'll see fewer finishing one & fewer yet competing or finishing at Kona.
    Last edited by burtronix; 03-04-2013 at 02:33 PM. Reason: typo
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    Quote Originally Posted by dwt View Post
    Part of the problem is that too many of us fatties (that would be me now) think exercise alone will get the lard off. Unfortunately diet is an important part of the equation, maybe the more important part. So you can do all the training for a tri but not be buff if you don't eat right. Me, I have a pig out problem and like beer. Oops.

    Speaking of training for tris, I don't friggin get it. Don't get me wrong, I'm not afraid of training, which I have done extensively for mtb, road bike and XC ski racing. But tri training is all of some of these people's lives. Every hour of every day us planned out and centers around tris. It's a lifestyle and a subculture. Frankly the people bore the crap out if me. You can't do that **** and have any sort of a real life. No family, no kids, no non tri- geek friends. It's go to your job, train, maybe have a partner who is also a tri- geek, and train some more. BORING

    The great thing about mtb is that fun and exercise are combined in the best way I can think of besides skiing/snowboarding.

    Maybe the tri-geeks think I'm boring too. Fine. It's a free country

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    To be sure, there are people who spend way too much time training for triathlons - just like there are people who have screwed up priorities about so many things in life. Bit it's not necessary to wreck your life in order to compete in a triathlon. Joe Friel writes the Triathlon Training Bible & lays out a reasonable training schedule that allows you to have a life.
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    I have friends that have done an iron man and (in 11 hours) were extremely fit. There is huge difference in the training to do an 11 hour ironman and a 17 hour ironman (cut off time). Fairly likely that some of those heavier folks didn't finish in 17 hours or at all or walked the entire run. Kona is the world championship, there are no fat people there.

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    I say good for them, and never under estimate a "fattie". Will is # 1

    Plus let's not forget getting too shredded hinders strength/endurance. For me once I get under 10-13% body fat my strength and surely endurance falls off some.
    Round and round we go

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    Re: I thought doing an Ironman would make you lean and fit!

    I passed a LOT of larger people on the bike at Madison. And even more on the second lap of the marathon.

    Swimming is easy, and being plus-sized isn't something that hurts you in the water.

    You don't see many of them at the finish before the 13-14 hour mark though......

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    I also do want to make a point, that shredded muscle heads seem to have the WORST cardio I've ever seen. I was a competitive bodybuilder, and I was one of those guys. How embarrassing to be muscle bound with 3% body fat and can't climb a tiny hill without feeling like dying. It's a trip to see shredded gym rats with their shirts off on a MTB standing off to the side puking a lung on a climb.

    Another thing about dieting was a good point made above. I fast after 7pm, and I'm a vegetarian - but recently have been going vegan. I don't eat pastries, sweets, drink sodas or anything like that except for on rare occasion. It takes a LOT of work to stay on diet, but the weight came off very easily just by switching things up. But, people are right about eating - some people believe they need a million grams of protein and end up ingesting a lot of animal fat, salt, and extra unnecessary calories because they are "training" and feel that a ton of protein is necessary.

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    To me, a total non tri athlete type I take my hat off to anyone completing an Ironman. It's an achievement in itself. It's just that as a guy with more of a ball sports background I had the (clearly mistaken) impression that to complete an Ironman the amount of training required would make you as lean as can be by default.

    Clearly not the case. However it was a hot day and I don't know how many of these competitors finished the race or beat the 17 hour time limit.

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    Interesting discussion, because I'm a fat guy (formerly 300+, now 230 - have been as low as 215 before I hurt my shoulder last summer) and I've been thinking about doing a triathlon lately. Sprint distance, maybe Olympic, but not Ironman, though. Won't be fast, except maybe on the bike (I can hammer pretty good on the flat, slow climber though). But for a formerly completely out of shape guy like myself, finishing even a sprint tri would be a pretty big accomplishment.

    I apologize in advance to anyone that may see me in Spandex.

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    I'm a twig but remember seeing this guy who's one of the big guns at Forest City Velodrome postitively beating everyone into submission while sporting a rather large gut. He was over 50 and rode with a teammate (in some paired event?) who's in his early thirties and held the track record at one point. I was astounded at the speed thse two put down on the wood. Stupidly, stupidly fast, gut and all!

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    Quote Originally Posted by BigTex91 View Post
    Interesting discussion, because I'm a fat guy (formerly 300+, now 230 - have been as low as 215 before I hurt my shoulder last summer) and I've been thinking about doing a triathlon lately. Sprint distance, maybe Olympic, but not Ironman, though. Won't be fast, except maybe on the bike (I can hammer pretty good on the flat, slow climber though). But for a formerly completely out of shape guy like myself, finishing even a sprint tri would be a pretty big accomplishment.

    I apologize in advance to anyone that may see me in Spandex.
    Do it. (A shorter tri, that is)

    I went from 228 the day I registered down to 178 at weigh-in for my IM. That was 2008, and I've stayed around 185-190 ever since. (I'm 6-1)

    You won't regret doing a tri

  24. #24
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    Why tri? Why not MTB racing?

    I'm mostly just asking for the sake of argument. But one of the things that I like about MTB racing is that it's a competitive version of something I already do for fun. So training for it doesn't take time away from MTB. That gives it some side benefits - I meet more mountain bikers and I've learned about some trails that I've returned to to ride non-competitively.

    I'll be honest - part of my affection for XC racing is the head-to-head competition aspect. Last summer, I tried track and liked it even better for that. But if you're looking for the aspect of completing a long endurance event, MTB racing scales that way too - there're endurance races over different distances and formats. So, "MTB does."

    As an element of a larger fitness plan, I like MTB XC because one trains for a season. I don't build up, do my event, and then hang up the bikes. I build up, start doing races, in some theoretical world I might peak for an 'A' race, I have some more races, and then if I'm not getting enough, I transition into 'cross for the Fall. Racing series races is a great way to stay in great shape long-term and have fun doing it.
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  25. #25
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    Good on the big rigs for having a go, all the power to them, it takes serious determination to do tris, to carry round the extra kgs must be real hard, full credit to them.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dion View Post
    While I'm no skinny boy (205lbs) and race the Clydesdale class

    Sandbagger....lol

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    No offense to any of the "fatties" and hats off to anyone doing tris or iron mans, but a dumb question- but does a higher % body facilitate swimming efficiency by providing more buoyancy? ie does a big gut act like a flotation device?

    Me, I'm in the very low teens %BF, pretty much always have been, and feel that I sink like rock when swimming, albeit with poor and undeveloped technique LOL

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    ^ to a certain degree yes.

    I am an avid surfer as well as mtn biker. Current weight around 225lbs. Weekly exercise routine = 3-5 days of weight lifting, 25-30 dirt miles per weekend, and surfing on weekends when there are waves.

    I like food, so as much as i exercise.... i eat like a pig after. 20% body fat according to those little hand held devices. At 205lbs i drop below 10% body fat. There is a noticeable buoyancy difference from 20% to 10%.

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    Extreme cardio is actually quite counterproductive to being lean. Your bodies hormonal response will make you hyper suceptible to storing fat. You will be fit, just not necessarily lean (look at world class sprinters vs world class marathoners). Sprinting and high intensity stuff spikes hgh and testosterone which helps you get lean....

  30. #30
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    fat is basically neutrally buoyant. Higher fat% wouldn't really help swimming unless you could somehow make your legs fatter than the rest of your body, which would be what a wetsuit does - wetsuits don't really make you ride higher in the water, they make it easier to have better body position by making your legs float (as a long-time swimmer, it really feels like cheating to wear one, as it's just about impossible to have poor body position).


    all that said, the swim is an insignificant portion of Ironman. I'd argue fast transitions are more important than fast swimming.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Joules View Post

    all that said, the swim is an insignificant portion of Ironman. I'd argue fast transitions are more important than fast swimming.
    Quoted for truth. Especially for an IM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by borabora View Post
    That's pretty surprising. I have watched the Kona Ironman several times and haven't seen a single overweight competitor at that event. I guess it depends on how difficult it is to qualify for the event.
    If you are impressed with Ironman as a competition, check out the Ultraman competition. Pretty crazy stuff.
    Qualify for Kona is the key here. Finishing in the back 3rd of a tri on the mainland isn't going to cut it.
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    Have any of you been in a pool or lake and tried to pull off 2 mile swim? It makes most 2 mile technical mtb climbs look like child's play from a fitness perspective.

    If you're going to Kona, you're probably committed to the competition, and being the right body type for it is a huge component of competing vs. just trying for completion.

    The "Completer" is still pulling something huge off, they're just ticking a box or deciding if they want to commit to getting to next level.

    Don't make assumptions, else you may someday meet a fit fat person who will crush your ego...

  34. #34
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    Is this where the fatties check in? OP-- you may have seen me out there on the course.






    Swim: 1:42; Bike: 7:16; Run: 6:36

    No where near my personal bests on each individual, but collectively it was a strong performance. I trained for a year, and for the last 6 months I made the decision to be caloric neutral on the training. I learned how, and what, to eat while training that hard. My weight at the event was around 210 and I had ~12% body fat.

    Long endurance events like this cause all sorts of biological reactions. Right after the swim, I was extremely bloated with salt water. Somewhere on the bike, the dam broke loose and I couldn't stop peeing. Then another cycle like that happened on the run.

    Ever see a boxer weigh in two days before the event and then see them in the ring? They look like a different person. It has nothing to do with fitness.

    Race your own race and worry about your time and pacing. Don't judge the race by the fit of the spandex.

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    Congratulations on completing an Ironman event, heyyall. That is a very impressive achievement.

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    Quote Originally Posted by thefriar View Post
    Have any of you been in a pool or lake and tried to pull off 2 mile swim? It makes most 2 mile technical mtb climbs look like child's play from a fitness perspective.
    Swimming is almost all technique. A guy who swam in college and was good can likely whup the "fittest" dude that doesn't have good technique. Easily. Even if they're overweight.

    I swam my 2.4 miles in one hour and twently minutes. I had not been in the water for weeks prior due to shoulder issues.

    But I have a strong open-water swimming background.

    An IM is much more impressive to me when done by people that didn't swim AAU or competitively as kids growing up, but who took lessons as adults in order to do an IM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AndrwSwitch View Post
    Why tri? Why not MTB racing?
    ...
    As an element of a larger fitness plan, I like MTB XC because one trains for a season. I don't build up, do my event, and then hang up the bikes. I build up, start doing races, in some theoretical world I might peak for an 'A' race, I have some more races, and then if I'm not getting enough, I transition into 'cross for the Fall. Racing series races is a great way to stay in great shape long-term and have fun doing it.
    I do some MTB racing. We're lucky in SoCal to have a lot of options in that arena, including a low-key, weeknight series in the summer that I race in (and while it's low-key and attracts a lot of newcomers to the sport, I've had the pleasure of being blown into the weeds by Tinker Juarez and Johnny O'Mara int he process - kind of cool!). And I'd like to do some endurance events as well, and am working towards that.

    So, yeah, why not MTB racing indeed. But to answer your question about why Tri, well, it's a bit of a progression.

    I got fat because I like to eat. And drink beer. I've done pretty good cleaning up the amount and type of food I eat, but still like to indulge from time to time. And while I can cut way back on the beer, come Friday and Saturday, there will be some tops popped (besides, my kid keeps asking me, "Daddy, why do you buy so much beer and never drink it?") So to lose weight, I must exercise. Now, MTB is far and away my favorite form of exercise. I try to put wheels to dirt three or four days a week. But I also travel for work and pleasure, and am not usually able to take a bike. So I started running. I hate it, really, but I think it really is improving my baseline fitness. And a pair of running shoes is much easier to pack than a bike.

    Then last summer I wrecked my shoulder - torn rotator cuff and bicep tendon playing downhiller at Northstar. That brought about a couple of changes. First, I borrowed, and am about to buy, a road bike - after I injured my shoulder, bumps hurt. Really hurt. Second, my shoulder doctor told me to swim - it's good exercise for a recovering shoulder. So I did. A modified, ghetto breast stroke was all I could do, but I was in the water and kind of enjoyed it. We went to Hawaii a month after my surgery and I swam in the ocean, about half a mile. Slowly.

    My shoulder is nearly recovered, at least in the range of motion, but not strength. I plan to keep on swimming to improve both. And I'm still riding the road bike at least one day a week, even though I'm back to spending more time on the MTB. And I run a couple of times a week just to mix things up. So, I'm swimming, I'm riding, I'm running.... Why not put it all together?

    That's kind of a long-winded answer. But once I realized I could do all those things, it's kind of become a bucket list thing. And besides, spending time on the road bike has made me a lot less self-conscious about wearing spandex.

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    Yeah, I have a buddy who does Triathlon stuff and is training for a 1/2 Ironman right now, pretty sure he has his sights set higher but he is trying to build up and do it really well.

    He eats a TON of food, like he eats about 3 times the amount of food I eat currently, he is literally burning that many calories with all of his training. He is shorter than me, but still weighs close to my weight, but hes also incredibly lean. Its pretty insane, but he runs and swims and bikes basically every day after he gets off work. The endurance level he has now is crazy.
    I ran some cross country last year in high-school and some this year but wasn't able to compete due to having mono just before cross-country season started. But, he makes 3 mile runs just to warm up.

    Not that this is related but I also got a cousin who runs some local marathons, he does really well, but runs 10+ miles every morning, and that is just standard, he kicks it up some a month or two before a race. He is also really lean.

    Edit: I dont think I will ever be able to do something like this though, sticking with biking, developed some knee and hip issues running cross country and I cant swim at all . . . but hopefully I will get good at biking and just do some trail ride stuff. Would be fun to compete but probably wouldn't do so great - but who knows, would be something fun to do.

  39. #39
    B.Ike
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    No one's mentioned genetics in this discussion. I'm sure some of these "fatties" train and eat the same as their lean competitors and yet only lifestyle choices are being discussed here.
    full disclosure: I'm a (somewhat) fit fatty.

  40. #40
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    I actually did a duathlon earlier this year. I'm a terrible swimmer, so I doubt I'll do a triathlon; people can interpret that how they please.

    I'd had trouble with running in the past and have finally been able to reintegrate it in my training. Since I see myself as a cyclist first, I've dropped one running day from my week in favor of more cycling. (Well, right now, in favor of nothing, but I had a good thing going before I got this cough. ) So I wanted to follow the period of running with an event while I was still doing it well. I liked that I still got to ride my bike too. It was an off-road duathlon, so I even got to ride my mountain bike.

    Mountain biking after PR'ing (at a somewhat pathetic pace, but whatever) a 5k is really hard!
    "Don't buy upgrades; ride up grades." -Eddy Merckx

  41. #41
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    Quote Originally Posted by mountbkr View Post
    Sandbagger....lol
    Heh heh... I want to get in at 200.5 on my next race!!!

    (doesn't matter, though. some clydes are ridiculously fast).

  42. #42
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    I thought doing an Ironman would make you lean and fit!

    Yeah I was a 225 lb that got smacked around by the 201-210 lbers

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    My hat is off to anyone who gets out and participates. I used to volunteer at the Danskin Women's tri - and it was truly inspirational to see some of these women accomplish something they never dreamed they be able to do.

    That said, it's almost impossible to exercise yourself thin. On average, you're lucky to burn 500 Calories / hr in training. Even if you can get in 10 hrs a week - which most normal people would struggle with even when training for something like an Ironman - you're burning less that 1.5lbs of stored energy - and that's assuming that you consume zero extra calories. Add in a sports drink or a cliff bar during the exercise, and it's very easy to offset every calorie you've burned.

  44. #44
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    I thought doing an Ironman would make you lean and fit!

    Quote Originally Posted by TechniKal View Post

    That said, it's almost impossible to exercise yourself thin. On average, you're lucky to burn 500 Calories / hr in training. Even if you can get in 10 hrs a week - which most normal people would struggle with even when training for something like an Ironman - you're burning less that 1.5lbs of stored energy - and that's assuming that you consume zero extra calories. Add in a sports drink or a cliff bar during the exercise, and it's very easy to offset every calorie you've burned.
    Truth. My low heart rate and protruding gut are proof enough :-(

    Meanwhile, my personal opinion is that triathlon is 3 parts OCD, 2 parts enduring pain, 1 part peer group pressure, with a smidgen of fun thrown in. If done to excess leading to this:

    http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/.htm

    I'll take mountain biking where fitness and fun are mixed equally.


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  45. #45
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    I'm personally extremely happy to see "fatties" out there racing. At least they're out there doing something, unlike myself who is sitting at my desk at work right now. I think it's good. Who cares if they finish near the back of the pack, or if they don't qualify for Kona. I'm sure most of them don't care either.

    We should support anyone who wants to go outside and do SOMETHING.

    Now where are those damn cheetos?

  46. #46
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    I can't believe NOT ONE person mentioned XTERRA, the off road tri.
    Looking at the venues in our area, they are not on the easiest trails.

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