Fit, fast and … fat?

Compared to most women in this country, I look like a runway model.

I have what I think is somewhere in the range of 24% body fat, although it could well be higher or lower, since all I have to go on is my consumer-level Moron body fat measurement device. While this number is on the low end of normal for the general female population (especially today, when overweight-to-obese is the new “normal”), it’s on the high side for a competitive marathon distance runner.

The discrepancy I see between myself and the women I finish with in races (who are typically carrying noticeably less extra poundage than I am) has bothered me more for theoretical than practical reasons thus far. After all, if I’m finishing with the skinny bitches, then the fact that I am not a skinny bitch myself is not holding me back. Or is it? I don’t know.

Not knowing something, especially something that might impact something else that’s important to me, really bugs me. So I sought out some expert advice from Mary Coordt, who is not only a nutritionist, but she’s also a three time Olympic marathon trials qualifier and frequent speaker on nutrition for runners. Since if you so much as exchange one email with me your expectation of privacy is null and void, I’ll share what she told me with you.

When I presented her with my plight (“I’m obviously fatter than my peers at the finish line, can’t seem to lose that extra fat no matter what I do, and I fear that it’s slowing me down.”) her response was frank, informative and oddly reassuring. To paraphrase, it went something like this:

You’re born with a certain body type and physiological framework within which to work. You’re in a normal range for body fat and you’re making great progress. So stop comparing yourself to the thinner marathoners and look to the bulkier runners instead (she mentioned Russians in particular) who have no problem moving fast over long distances despite the loads they’re hauling. Keep training and your times will drop. Don’t worry about it.

To me, one mark of a true professional is being able and willing to tell someone that they really don’t need your services.

So I’m going to stop looking for the diet or person who can promise me fat loss. I’m just going to keep running.

8 Responses

  1. I’ll resist the urge to tell you how you’re not fat, here, because I absolutely understand the issue. We got these monster thighs from Dad, and there’s naught to be done. You’re using them as God himself intended.

    Just run.

  2. Yes, not much you can do about the body-type you’re born with. You might be more suited to middle-distance running!

    They used to do skin-fold tests at the AIS on the female gymnasts – obviously not a great idea if the athlete’s mental welfare is important.

    It’s just the world class elites that are super lean, and that’s because of body-type, not dieting. There are many different body-types in the ranks of ‘regional’ marathon winners. Joanne Cowan ran 2:41 and she’s a ‘normal’ body-type.

    By the way, Mary has an impressive marathon record!

  3. Don’t look for your weight or fat!.
    your body tells when your weight is to hige…
    A lot off runners want weight down for a better time, dont do that, it is not good.
    I never want to now my weight, it is not importend for my.
    Julie, stop whit your weight or fat things in your head and go run a good marathon ;-).
    Groet Rinus.

  4. Rinus, your comments always make my day! How did your marathon go?

  5. Julie, Thanks and nice!!.
    The marathon was oke my second marathon went good and 9 minutes more rapidly than the previous marathon. Perhaps that I Sunday my third marathon in 2 weeks will run?.
    I like to run the marathon and i feel strong to do it.
    Parhaps i run faster this time?.
    In the new year on 01-02-2009 i wil try to run the marathon faster than 3:30………
    On my runlog you can see pics and video at the last marathon.
    And 5 weeks a go i run and film the marathon, you can see it on my site.
    Links to pics and video:

    You do it good and you run a fast time at the marathon, and make no problems whit your weight.
    And a nice runlog to visit..
    And at last, you can translate mij weblog to english at Google translate( Google vertaal) on my site, so you can read my runlog
    Groet Rinus from the cold Holland!.

  6. Great video, Rinus! Very “cinema verité”.

  7. […] specifically, how much fat I carry and how it affects my ability to run fast. Here, for example, is a post from nearly two years ago in which, after a couple of years of calorie counting and restriction, […]

  8. […] posted recently about how I’ve stopped weighing myself. Many moons ago, I posted about being a fat, fast runner. I thought I could live with my situation, but I’ve decided I can’t. Why? Because over […]

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