Body Image and Endurance Sports

Type: Steady State Ride
Distance: 19.62 miles
Time: 1:00:40
Average Watts: 168 watts
Normative Power: 170 watts
Average Heart Rate: 148 bpm
Total Work: 611 kJ
Average Speed: 19.4 mph

Just another ride on the trainer in the Pain Cave. I am trying to get my kJ up so I can get back up to the 680-700 kJ for an hour workout on the bike. I am ahead of my training for last year so far, but next week is when I started working out twice a day four days a week. I am not sure I will have that type of capacity in my bones, but I will give it a try.

On the DVD Player: The 2010 Tour de France. We just hit the Pyrenees Mountains, and the competition is getting heated between Andy Schleck and Alberto Contador. I don’t think we will see the two of them go at it in 2011 because I bet Contador gets banned for the doping he did. It is too bad — I would have loved to see a replay of that battle. Here is the video of the famous “Chaingate”. I love that Contador continued to attack. Just watch the first :60 seconds and you will understand the rivalry.

Perception of Self and Endurance Athletes

First — thanks for the comments on my recommendations for Fitness Blog reading. The blogs I listed are some of the better ones that I have found and read on a regular schedule. If you have one you want to recommend to me, please feel free to let me know. I need you people to share the knowledge! There is no hoarding here…

I was poking through my Google Analytics files last night examining the most prevalent search strings that bring people to this blog. I love technology and it with all the tools that are available, you might as well use them I figure. So one person in the UK found my site by searching “Chicken Legs”. I wrote about having chicken legs during a review of the Nike leggings that I use for my outdoor runs in the winter. I have to admit that made me laugh. Alot.

I took up endurance sports to try and improve my body composition and health. I wanted to achieve a health-enhancing level of fitness through purposeful cardio and resistive training. As you may recall, I had the resistive side down no problem, but running was a distinct challenge. I looked fat and I wanted to look healthy. I wanted to not have to tell people I was a power lifter as an excuse for being 240 lbs.

Right or wrong, my perception of my body type and what I thought it should be shaped my habits. As I got older it was less important to look “huge” and the priority I set on looking “good” got to be more and more important to me. Endurance sports started to call my name. I started with running, gradually transitioned to triathlon, and finally I am trying to balance cycling, running, and triathlon. It isn’t always easy, but it somehow works.

When I try to get down to my targeted body fat percentage and weight, I start to look skinny. I get a lot of friends who ask me if I am sick or something. While they are well intentioned, their questions are a bit off base. I want to get to a particular body fat range because I don’t want to carry extra weight during a 10 to 12 hour race. I will be the one on the course, not my pals, so I typically ignore them.

Now I don’t get silly about losing weight — I do it in the right way. I control my diet by putting high quality calories into my body and burning them with exercise. I don’t drink soda and stay away from foods high on the Glycemic Index.  My weight loss is healthy and sustaining it is just as healthy. I do like that my rolls all disappear. My wife and her friends think that while I look skinny with my clothes on, I look great at the pool. I think her friends are too accustomed to mediocrity to be impartial judges.

But there are traits of my body that I would change. As I get older, my body hair is getting longer. Don’t worry you twenty-somethings. The great chest hair you have now will start to thin and grow longer. I will admit to being genetically blessed one way — I have no hair on my back. My chest hair, however, is splotchy and what I have is long. Hence, I do shave the chest once ever 10 days as long as I am training. My chest hair looks pretty silly when it is grown in. It looks kind of like a half dozen islands of hair on the sea of my chest.

I also have really long toes. I swear if the world were to flood and we had to live in trees for a couple of years, I would have a competitive advantage because I could wrap my toes around a tree branch if need be. I am going to spare you people what I found when I Googled “long toes”. I think I will say that there are some really odd people out there. Enough said…

26.2ismycooldown.comBut I would never ask to change my chicken legs. I love that my legs are long and lean. I imagine them being some type of super turbines when I am running or cycling. I imagine I have some type of competitive advantage over the rest of the field because my stride is about five feet longer than everyone else’s. Plus, I have much less surface area when I am shaving them, which saves me money on razors.

There are benefits to having chicken legs…even if those benefits are only in my mind. Self-perception is what counts here.

About the Author

I have been participating in running and triathlons for 10 years and love the feeling that training provides. You may not agree with me, but you know you just can't look away...