Wednesday, July 26, 2006

The "skinny people have it easier" rant

When running or cycling, that is. I've known a whole lot of naturally skinnyfast people who think they're fast because they've trained a lot, when really they're just fast not because of their training at all, but because they just don't have very much weight to move around. It takes less energy for them to move their smaller body weight and frontal area, on foot or on a bike.

Then again, I've met a lot of skinnyfast people who seem to confuse the concepts of "slow" with "lazy" and "stupid". That's fodder for another long rant some day.

I guess it's just stupidity or laziness that made me run laborious 14-minute miles when I started out when you were doing 9-minute-miles easily the first time you went running, right?

Another rant I'll write some day: The skinny people with crappy diets who think they're skinny not because of genetics or a low setpoint or fast-acting satiety or a high metabolic rate or that they're just lucky, but because of their vastly superior eating habits and industriousness.

I don't know. Maybe I've just been hangin' with the wrong bunch.

Actually, most triathletes that I've met are very positive and supportive of others of all speeds. The majority of them are just racing against themselves, regardless of what event they're in.

The good news? My running is getting faster and easier. So is my cycling. It's definitely not because I've been doing more training (though that helps), it's mostly because I have less weight to lug around. I've done the same amount of training before without getting much faster, because I weighed the same. I'm sure that if I put on a 20-pound backpack, I'd be racing about the speed I did at that total body weight.

Free speed. I'll take it!

42 comments:

Ayman said...

Holla! CWTR™

Mojo said...

So, if I lose five more pounds I will be able to run a 7:30 5k?

(I'm the skinny, dumb blondish one)

nancytoby said...

I'm certain of it!!!

LeahC said...

hmm. so you are saying that all skinny people are fast because they are skinny and not because they train? Well I guess I could just sit on my ass then and still be fast or get faster.

I am skinny because of nice genetics from my dad's side and becuase I eat somewhat healthy....but cheese burgers and pizza are a part of my regular diet. I am getting faster because of harder training that I am going through.

I don't think that people who run slower than me are at all "lazy" or "stupid" I am guessing it is harder for larger peopel to get out out there and I am happy to see people of all sizes out running. I don't care how fast people are, I think that it's important that you are out there doing it, not how fast you are doing it.

I don't think it's fair to put all skinny people into one catagory.

nancytoby said...

If I were trying to be fair I wouldn't call it a rant! :-)

Cliff said...

Who say just b/c u are big u are slow?

http://ironmitch.blogspot.com/2006/06/fat-boys-are-coming-article-submission.html#links

nancytoby said...

That's a good article, but I wouldn't call anybody "fat" when you can see their defined abdominal muscles all the way through their wetsuit!

TriFeist said...

Maybe it's a rant but it targets specific attitudes that are common in the broader community. I've come to believe healthy weight loss is the easiest rode to speed, especially in running. That doesn't mean you don't have to train at all but weight loss makes a big difference. I have a collection of broken PRs to show for it.

Which is why I keep trying to reach a healthy BMI. FREE SPEED!

Mark I. said...

I'm historically skinny (although not so much at the moment!) and historically slow. I've also historically trained alot (although not so much at the moment!).

Historically and otherwise, I am not fast so I'm just gonna go right ahead and blame my parents. ;-)

Flo said...

Amen sister. Trifeist, can a get a hallelujah!!!!

I know if I'm thinner I'm faster and that's why my focus is shifting. I will continue to train but it's time to get serious about weight loss since I'm tired of being slow.

Free Speed!!! Put your hands together!!!!

Shelley said...

I totally agree with you Nancy!!! I have been eating nothing but vegetables, fruits, rarely..but occasionally meat...I couldn't lose a lb to save my life, i'm training my ASS off and nothing to who for it..WTF??? Genes, i'm just stuck the way I am...I guess....I just need to accept the fact that I'm healthy, eating right, exercising and this is the way my life is for me...sigh For me, the only way i'll get faster is train HARDER!! Well I could go on that "nothing but an IV" diet for a month...LOL

Amber said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Amber said...

I ran my first 5K last weekend and I have to say I could definitely tell that it was somewhat clique-ish as far as fast vs. slow. Besides one other runner and my family, no one said anything/cheered me on. I was definitely the largest one there (though not the slowest, it turns out!).

The volunteers cheered on the fast runners and people they knew by name but when I went by the water station both times (it was a 2 loop race) it was all quiet. My mom told me that there was a guy next to him that left the sidelines halfway through the race and was all, "that's the last one from my club."

Anyway I thought it was kind of ironic, I was thinking, man it sure takes me more effort to haul my 215 pounds through a 12:54 mile than it does for these skinny fast people to run a mile! But maybe we just have a stuck up running community around here, who knows. I'm new to this.

Mojo said...

I like your rant, it gave me something to think about while I was worming the goats. I was sweating and burning some fat off too.

I remembered "fat bottom girl" from my Woodlake race. She had the juiciest, roundest, ghetto booty I have ever seen. She probably weighed 15 pounds more than I did. Eight of those pounds was her rump roast. She kicked my junk in the trunk by three minutes in the run. FBG could run, fast!

I thought after that race if I grew a fatter ass, I would go faster.

nancytoby said...

Amber: It DOES take more effort! And it takes a much thicker skin to put yourself out there, too! Next time see if you can hear US cheering for you, BECAUSE WE ARE!!! :-)

Mojo: Florence Griffith Joyner had some of the biggest thighs I ever saw. And Marion Jones raced at 157 pounds. BUT - that said - most elite marathon women are 115 pounds or less.

Iron Pol said...

Hmmm, here's another perspective. I weighed about 220 lbs when I started running. Over a couple years, I lost about 20 pounds. At about 198, no amount of training seemed to matter. Then, I switched to tri training (from just marathoning). In the 5 months since I started, I've dropped to 177.

And my times are vastly faster. Some because of the training, mostly because I've lost the weight. But, I'm not "naturally skinny." (Many wouldn't consider 177 skinny, but compared to 220, it's noticeable)

Whenever I'm faced with a weight vs. cost issue (spend another $500 for a lighter bike, or an extra $50 to save 5 ozs for shoes), I go cheap, then try to lose a little more weight.

And consider this, as we lose weight, we get that faster for two reasons. First, the training and second, the weight loss. Skinny people can't hope to get faster just because they're getting lighter. So they have to figure out some other way to improve speed. The grass is always greener...

Julia said...

Nothing like a good 'ole post about FAT to get people commenting. I was just curious how much you've lost Nancy. In your last pics you've been looking really fit! Are you still doing a food journal 5 days a week?

nancytoby said...

Heh, I love a good controversy. :-) I'm down roughly 20 pounds for the year. Which is still 35-40 from goal weight, but progressing slowly in the right direction. I have been slacking on my food log the last couple of weeks, and probably won't do it the next 2 weeks on vacation, but it works well for me when I do log everything and check the daily calorie totals.

Bolder said...

hey, is this skinny'ism?

i've been fighting this my whole life... when, i was a kid *sniff*, my *sniff* belly button stuck out *sniff* and *sob* my ribs showed, and *waaaaaaaaaaaaaah* kids made fun of my whiteness, and, *uncontrollablesness at this point*, all i wanted was to be was...

i can't finish this, i need some time to myself...

nancytoby said...

LOL!! You wanted to be a fat black kid with an innie??

jeanne said...

I know a lot of skinny fast healthy people who train their asses off. and none of them look at me and think fat and lazy.
(ok, none of them say that out loud.)
no, really, i think you ARE hanging with the wrong crowd. Maybe I'm just lucky? or oblivious? But I never feel looked down on. EVER.
Leah is fast. And she trains her ass off to be fast. Just like Bex. Who I will send this to, so she can join the fun!
(Good thing you didn't mention the word "elite." ha!)

nancytoby said...

Jeanne:

Uh, you also aren't visibly obese and you also don't run 14 minute miles.

I was/did both.

It's DIFFERENT when you're like that, I'm tellin' you.

stronger said...

I like this post. I'm a "skinny" but not a lazy skinny. I have to workout or I will gain weight in an instant. I learned the fat lesson after 40lbs of pregnancy weight. I'd never felt my butt jiggle. I'd never had my thighs rub together. My joints hated the extra weight. I did a track workout and my mind was telling my body to go and my body said "whatever fatso, this is all you've got". I was getting more and more impatient about the weight but I never accepted that I couldn't get back to my "skinny" weight. It was hard. There were times I couldn't drop another pound to save my life. But I've learned that if I want to be a certain weight I have to workout x many times each week or x many hours or at x intensity. I've learned that my body drops weight when I cut down on breads and pastas. I've learned I'd rather eat M&Ms than drop more weight.

The reason I have so much respect for the sport of triathlon is watching all the different body types out on the race course. I admire nice ripped lean bodies but I have absolute respect for the (politically correct) larger athletes making it happen. I know it takes courage to get out there around all the skinnies but it doesn't matter how they do or how fast they go in relation to you.

20lbs lighter is no small feat. 20lbs lighter, twins, and as many races as you have done is better than being fastest.

Jonathan said...

training = weight loss = faster.

genetics will tell us how hard we have to work to get there. ultimately by training AND eating right, the rest falls into place.

Hermano said...

I'm naturally skinny, and it's only as easy as I decide I want it to be. As I get older, I have to be better at what I eat and how I train, certainly. For example, I haven't had red meat in years.

I'm sure it wasn't the point of your rant, but I kind of take umbrage with anyone who says that skinny people "have it easy." Genetics play a role in how fast you can go at a lot of levels, and not just body weight. I work extremely hard to shave seconds of my pace, but I'm never going to run 5 minute miles for a marathon (or probably for a mile long race), whether I weigh in at 150 or 140.

Everyone's got an ideal weight for what they want to do with their life and with their training; everyone's got a "fast" in them. That's what's great about this game. When you watch football (something I was always terrible at, by the way, because I was so little), you don't see a losing team keep playing after the game is over until they've got the same number of points as the winning team, but how many times have you seen a triathlete quit or slow down because some pro has finished the race already?

TriFeist said...

training = weight loss = faster.

This may be a "Your Mileage May Vary" situation but... lots of training did not equal weight loss for me. I tried to lose weight for years (3 marathons and an ultramarathon) using that philosophy to no avail. In fact, my training was more consistent and almost equal in volume last year but my 5K paces were 2.5 minutes per mile slower.

It goes along with the other comment: as we lose weight, we get that faster for two reasons. First, the training and second, the weight loss.

I ran speed work, drills, track workouts when I was heavier. A year of work might earn me 30 seconds per mile. Then I lost significant weight. A few months of half hearted speed work cut 10 minutes off my 5K. The difference in the two scenarios was my weight.

nancytoby said...

I'm with you, TriFeist. I trained lots and lots of miles for years without major changes in running speed. When I lost weight at the same (admittedly minimal) training level, the speed spiked up quickly. It's *easier*. Training does NOT equal significant weight loss for most people I know (certainly not the women), unless they simultaneously pay a great deal of attention to their caloric intake.

Even most male runners I've talked to say they have to go over 35 miles per week to see much weight loss.

runr53 said...

You said: "Actually, most triathletes that I've met are very positive and supportive of others of all speeds." The most must not be included in all the triathe"snobs" that train around here! Now runners are another story, hehe... Run Good!

Hermano said...

It doesn't get easier. You just get faster.
- Greg LeMond

Bex said...

I agree with the Greg LeMond quote that Hermano posted.

And I think the hostility against skinny people is unwarranted.

Since I started running a little less than 2 years ago, I've cut my 10-mile time from 9:50/mile to 8:00/mile. But my weight has stayed the same, give or take 5 pounds. I've gotten faster because I train diligently and hard - logging the 30-40 mile weeks, and now getting diligent with speedwork.

My weight is steady partly because I was already at a healthy weight, and and partly because I've been doing a little weight training, which adds a few pounds of muscle.

Yes, it's easier to run faster when you're skinny. But just because you're skinny doesn't mean you're fast.

And, by the way, when I was closing in on the finish line in a recent 3K, where I ultimately finished in 3rd place among women, I did NOT get cheered on by people.

They were all cheering for the kids behind me, who were chasing my skinny butt for all they were worth.

nancytoby said...

Anybody who doesn't think it's harder to run with more weight, that you're just slower, needs to try running with a 20-pound backpack on. Or 40. Or 50. Because that's what many of us have (effectively) carried.

Chris said...

Congrats on the 20 pounds! I read someplace that the majority of triathletes can probably benefit most by improving body composition. For me, I know it's the hardest "training" that I do.

Keep up the great work!

tri_newbie_nerd said...

Nancy- I have noting but admiration for you! To look at me, I guess I would fit in the "skinny" category. I'm still not that fast. I'd be right in the back of the pack too. I'm new to triathlon, but sometimes I feel that if you're not fast, you're nothing. I'm actaully afraid to seek out training partners because I'm slow and I fear the embarassment of people saying I'm too slow for them to train with. I suppose some of this is a product of my own biases, and perhaps some of your feelings are based on your own biases too.
Regardless, good luck at Steelhead and good luck with your training for IMFL! Checking in on your blog and seeing you train while fulfilling your responsibilites as a wife and mother is inspiring- helps kick my butt when motivations falters to get out there for my next workout. Way to go Nancy!

Shelly said...

I am 60 inches tall, and at 110 pounds, neither skinny nor fat. And I am slow. I've always been slow. When I do the work, I get faster, but not a whole lot. I guess that's the genetics part.
An interesting observation-- I was out on a club bike ride. There was a woman riding ahead of me who probably weighed 50 pounds more than me. I kept passing her going uphill, and she kept passing me going downhill-- your basic physics lesson in action. So, us lightweights are at a disadvantage on the downhill half of the ride!

Lynne said...

Well said.... Hopefully I'll take some lessons from you!!

Good luck !

nancytoby said...

I'm loving all these comments! Thanks for your feedback, folks!!

triathlonmom said...

Nancy, this is just what I needed to hear. you've inspired me yet again. I know what I need to do, now I just have to do it.

gecko said...

i'm thinking the only people who doubt that "smaller" people are faster (directly or indirectly)because they are "smaller" are the people who have always been "small". Anyone who's been "larger" and lost some wieght will back you up on the connection!

the Dread Pirate Rackham said...

I feel like I gotta throw in 2c here -

I used to be a lot bigger, and a lot slower too. I know what you're talking about.

As I got smaller I got faster. I'm not convinced the two are related, as I (like many here) have diligently trained my ass off.

On my planet, it's all about body composition. You can weigh 200lb and be all muscle or all fat - and body comp will make the biggest difference between a fastie and a slowie.

I met the runners here before I met the triathletes. The running community here, in my view, is significantly less snobby than what you describe there (though there are some with their noses in the air). I love the running people because you can't tell by looking at them who is fast and who is slow - my ass has been kicked by both sides of the scale. And I find them pretty supportive of all sizes and abilities.

The short story is, you should come over here and hang with me! Just sayin'.

Nancy said...

I know I am coming late to this party but I loved this post. It helped form my own rant, which you can check out at your leisure if you feel like it.

I am really enjoying your blog and find your successes very inspiring.

RS11215 said...

Nancy, as an Athena woman training for my first Half IM in September I say AMEN to you. I have ramped up my training and have not lost an ounce. I'm guessing that I need to lose 30 lbs in order to improve my speed.

Good luck in your race and I'm excited to keep up with your progress!

Bolder said...

word.