Slow fat triathlete? Isn’t there more than one oxymoron in that phrase? Not according to Jayne Williams, author of Slow Fat Triathlete – Live Your Athletic Dreams in the Body You Have Now and her follow-up, Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete. The self-professed slow fat triathlete wrote two wonderful books designed to inspire every woman (and man) to get off the couch and follow her athletic dream.
In Slow Fat Triathlete, her first book, Jayne is forthright about her own athletic story, provides information on triathlons for beginners, and supports it all with training tips and techniques. She starts out in the introduction by tackling the dreaded words “fat” and “slow” head-on. It’s downright un-American to admit to being either, but in reality, many of us are both. Jayne emphasizes that the f-word of importance is “fun.” If you’re not having fun doing what you’re doing, then why do it?
Jayne organized Slow Fat Triathlete into ten chapters, starting out with her own trip into triathlons and suggesting roadmaps for her readers. She then moves onto equipment (“it’s really not about the bike”), training and your first triathlon. Once you’ve tried your first tri and fallen in love, she discusses triathlon options and how to get your family and friends involved as supporters. She concludes with chapters on dealing with injuries and managing nutrition (“actually, you can’t eat whatever you want: the sad truth about triathlon training).
After having been inspired by Jayne, I entered my own version of slow fat triathlete-hood: I completed the Alaska Women’s Gold Nugget Triathlon. The largest women-only triathlon in the United States, and possibly the world, I joined over 1,300 women of all shapes, sizes and ages in completing a 500 meter swim, 13 mile bike ride and a 3.1 mile run. It was an inspiring experience and I loved every minute of it. I immediately started looking for more triathlons in which to “compete.” I also purchased Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete in the hopes of finding more inspiration and a good training guide.
Jayne’s second book met my expectations for inspiration, but fell short as a triathlon training guide. Subtitled “50 ways to kick butt on the field, in the pool, or at the gym – no matter what your size and shape,” Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete focuses on getting you out the door and exercising, but not specifically on triathlons.
Section I, Nine Modest Proposals, was designed to meet us each where we are now, no matter how out-of-shape and un-athletic. Jayne advocates for abandoning self-consciousness; seeing fitness as what you do, not how you look; starting small; and dreaming big. The highlight of this section is “The Imperfect Athlete’s Bill of Rights,” a manifesto intended to allow us to be real people while also pursuing our athletic dreams.
In Section II, Ten Ways of Being an Athlete, Jayne talks you into wearing proper (not cotton) athletic clothes and embracing your sweat, and helps you find the right mental attitude to follow your dream. She continues in Section III, Eight Ways to Care for Your Body, with advice on, among other things, nutrition, hydration and naps.
Sections IV (Nine Tips for Dealing with the World You Live In) and V (Seven Advanced Workouts for Your Mind) give you motivations for keeping going once you’ve started. Included are suggestions for getting your friends involved, finding the right rewards for yourself, not focusing on your weight, keeping track of your successes and progress, and appreciating the miracle of the human body in motion.
Jayne concludes with Section VI, Seven Practices to Inspire Your Spirit. In these chapters she encourages you to “care passionately about your absurd endeavors,” listen to what your body is telling you, and know when to quit. This section shows you how you can gain not only physically, but also mentally and emotionally, from following your athletic dreams.
While I enjoyed reading Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete, I was disappointed in it as a training guide. This book will help you get off the couch and get your mind in the game, but you’ll have to look elsewhere for assistance with training plans, exercises, and sport-specific advice. That said, Jayne’s candid view of herself and her crazy sense of humor make the book worth the purchase price.
I fully intend to continue enjoying competing in triathlons, and will return to Slow Fat Triathlete and Shape Up with the Slow Fat Triathlete repeatedly for motivation and practical tips. I hope you find inspiration in these fun and useful books, too.
Note: These books were purchased by me with my own money; providing this review did not benefit me in any way.