cycling · running · stereotypes · swimming · triathalon

(Updated) Plus sized endurance athletes, we exist!

Just added, Louise Green, fitness instructor, author, and blogger.


Today, I still weigh more than 200 pounds. I work out regularly. I am fit enough to run half marathons and I hold my own in athletic training programs. My metabolic health is in line, producing healthy numbers across the board. I don’t drink alcohol or smoke and I eat reasonably well. My body is free of disease.

But regardless of my internal health and fitness, certain people will always judge me by my outward appearance, and that is wrong.

And it doesn’t stop with everyday people. We are also seeing professional athletes who carry extra weight subjected to the same unfair projections.

From an interview here.

Here’s Leah Gilbert,

So why is it that I am in a rather unique position when I present myself as a Plus Size Endurance Athlete? Why aren’t we all out there seeking sponsorship or promoting our roles as athletes? It’s easy – most of us don’t even acknowledge ourselves as athletes because we know that physically we don’t fit the mould of what society believes an ‘athlete’ looks like. We have a tendency to what I call ‘cheapen’ or ‘discount’ our athletic or fitness pursuits because people can’t seem to marry the fitness with the body shape. So instead of saying “I just finished a tempo run where I worked at 1km race pace intervals for 11km with a 2km warm up and 2km cool down”, we may mention quickly that we had ‘just been for a run’, usually adding “but I’m not very fast” or “oh I just plod along!”


And Ragen Chastain,

I’ve done a lot of athletic things in my life including sports and dance, but always stuff at which I have natural talent.  I decided that I wanted to push outside of my comfort zone and do things at which I seem to have absolutely no natural ability. I did a marathon and I sucked pretty bad at that, so I basically thought – what could I suck at that’s even more terrible than a marathon – and this is what I arrived at.

Jill Angie, Running with Curves

When I first started running in 1998, I wanted to lose weight. Running was simply a means of efficiently burning calories. It wasn’t fun, and it felt like punishment. And of course, I didn’t stick with it.

Over the years I started and stopped a number of times. Finally, in 2010, weighing close to 300 pounds, I started again, and this time I stuck with it. What was different? I stopped thinking about running as a means to offset calories, and started looking at it as a way to build up my confidence and strength. Soon, running became a source of joy, even when it was difficult (which was most of the time in the early years!). I became a triathlete and then a personal trainer. I also lost weight along the way.

But still, there was something missing. Although I felt like a runner, I didn’t see much representation in the running world for larger athletes. That’s when I knew it was time to start spreading the message that you can be a runner at any size, shape, age, pace or distance. That the very fact that you run makes you a runner.


Laura Backus, A Fat Girl’s Ironman Journey

I’m a 41 yr old, stubborn (determined?), short,  married, sarcastic, no kids (furkids, one named ATHENA),  fat, slow, medically challenged, IRONMAN.   I really enjoy the sport of triathlon and found you can do great things if you believe it, then put the work in to do it.

I have a genetic disorder, Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (EDS), which among other things makes my body unpredictable day by day. I dislocate many of my joints on a frequent basis and it is nearly impossible to build strength like normal people. I quickly atrophy, and many muscles just do not work on their own without conscious engagement of each contraction.

Running is especially difficult and my arches usually collapse within 45 min of any run.   I have to worry about many other medical issues, such as migraines, but these are the big ones.

I don’t want my disorder, or my weight to define me, however.  I’ve learned that I can speak for those with EDS, or any invisible illness, as well as the larger  or slower athletes.

(From an interview here:

Sheila Ashcroft, Fat Broad on a Bike

What’s a fat broad like me — 200 pounds of flab squatting over skinny tires — doing on the road? I’mcycling just like everyone else. And regardless of your size, you belong here too! If you like cycling, don’t let your mind cheat your body out of doing something fun and healthy.

Being overweight and being a cyclist is not contradictory. I’ve been both for 22 years. Too many women are psyched out by those lean bodies dancing on the pedals up the Gatineau Hills. Cycling does not require a skinny body, it helps if you want to go fast, but it’s not necessary to enjoy cycling.

And me! See Big women on bikes



The fat girl’s guide to running

The big triathlete

Fit fatties forum

Athena Triathletes on Facebook

If you know any other good resources, please share them in the comments.

You might be wondering, why don’t larger/fat/plus sized athletes just lose weight? I’m blogging about that next.