Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Tri On


A couple of weeks ago, I found myself at a local bike shop, trying on triathlon gear. The largest size tops and bottoms they had was a 10 (their Large), roughly equivalent (via my scientifically sound method of trying on the clothing myself) to a typical Size 6. . . begging the question that if you're looking to get into the sport, and wear larger than a Size 6, how do you outfit yourself? (Additionally, if you'd like to complete a triathlon in a destination that requires you to fly, you may have to cough up some extra bucks, according to a loyal reader and friend who forwarded me this.

Are you familiar with larger-sized triathlon clothing? Should the cycling shop be carrying larger than a Large?

If you're a larger woman, how do you try a tri?

25 comments:

neca said...

I ordered my triahtlon suit online. For my first triathlon, I didn't use one at all - just a swimsuit which I threw shorts and a top over. I'm a size 12-14, and I struggle to find appropraitely sized clothing in sporting good stores. It's frustrating - I ordered my bike shorts onlien as well.

Anonymous said...

Ordering online. Junonia, Team Estrogen, Terry Bicycles, Mile Marker Sports, etc. And reading http://fatgirlonabike.wordpress.com/ for hints! She has gear suppliers listed in her sidebar and hass a few posts on getting the right fit gear for large bodies.

It is near impossible to get real athletic gear bigger than a size 12 or so. Sure, you can get track pants and t-shirts, but those are usually made of regular cotton/poly/spandex knits and will start to be real uncomfortable real soon when you start sweating. They chafe and stick and don't dry quickly.

Apparently fat people need to be uncomfortable when they exercise as a reminder that exercise is supposed to be punishment for eating, not something fun and/or challenging.

Anonymous said...

You can find anything on the internet. I have very large feet, so I order shoes online.

http://www.teamestrogen.com/shopBySize.asp

Sizes up to XXL. Aren't you in NY? There are no stores in NY that carry large sizes? Hard to believe.

Anonymous said...

If they did make triathlon gear in larger sizes, they would have to charge more money because more fabric would be used. They probably also wouldn't see a lot of those larger sizes because most triathletes are smaller. It's just business, really. The best way to get larger sizes is to go online. They don't have as much overhead to pay as an actual store would.

Anonymous said...

sorry for the typo...see=sell

azusmom said...

They may have to spend more to make larger sizes, but they'd end up making a lot more. There's a definite market out there for larger folks who enjoy working out and want to be comfortable doing so. I think the assumption that most triathletes are small is more myth than fact.
(I don't do triathlons, but I work out hard 6 days a week, teach pilates, and am a size 12. I have boobs, people! I need tops that fit over them,lol!)

vivelafat said...

Wow, anon. You really pissed me off. Maybe it's just the morning I'm having. But "most triathletes are small" ORLY? Where did you get that information from, just your general observation skills. I am really not trying to be an ass, but it is very difficult when someone basically says that larger clothes are more difficult to make, so I should just expect to have to buy my clothes online. What if someone doesn't have computer access, or doesn't feel comfortable shopping on line? They shouldn't be allowed to participate. We all, no matter what size, have a right to clothe our body in a manner that allows us to do the things that we want to do. That is all.

ps22 said...

I pretty much agree with azusmom - it may cost a little more to make a larger suit, but i would guess its only marginally more at best. Its a manufactured suit, not a handmade wedding dress. And i agree that its at least equally likely that a size 12 person and size 2 person are looking for a triathalon suit.

However, i see anon's point about overhead in small stores. I wonder if the NYC store in question from Dr. Stacey's experience is similar to many NYC boutiques in a way - there is a tendency to cater to a "smaller" crowd. Growing up in the midwest, I am still surprised at how limited the sizes are in stores here.

I'm sure you took this into account as well, but aren't most suits meant to fit VERY, VERY tight as well? This post made me think of a friend who is a frequent triathalon participant - she is about 6 feet tall - I wonder where she gets her gear.

WeightingGame said...

many people who compete in tris are larger and they would blow me out of the water with their strength and endurance. In many competitions, there is a name for the "bigger" men - Clydesdales. I hate that term - they're people, not horses! - but I've heard from athletes that the phrase is actually embraced...

Anonymous said...

I hate that if I click on a link to this site, I can never use the back button on my browser. The site locks it, and I have to close down my browser and try to find where I was previously. Very annoying.

Anonymous said...

Having been involved in triathlon for over 10 years I have to say that the Anonymous who says that all triathletes are small is full of b.s. And I say this as someone who has ranged from an 8 to a 16 while competing. In the last 10 years or so the sport has really grown among amateurs (like myself--that's not an insult) and it's great to see people of all sorts of shapes and sizes competing. Other people have made great suggestions for finding clothes. I used to own a DeSoto tri suit that was fairly roomy and a Speedo suit--though I do my shopping online. I don't wear a wetsuit and I generally pull on shorts after the swim.

BreezieGirl said...

I'm just getting involved with triathlons through Team In Training (and I'm blogging about my experience here: http://bleach226.wordpress.com). As far as work out gear, I found a lot of dry fit shirts, etc in a plethora of sizes at Marshalls. They were great deals too.

As far as shorts, I'm finding you have to go to the actual sporting stores and those ones are more selective in sizing.

I can ask the ladies on my team (ranging greatly in size) where they have found their gear though.

violet_yoshi said...

I know how you feel. I was thinking of trying one of those scooters, it's like a razer but it swerves side to side, for exercise. They only made it up to carrying a certain weight. I assumed this was cause the product was being marketed strictly to kids. So I asked them to make one for adults, they did, but the weight requirement changed very little.

I was like, "Well geeze if people want us to exercise our fat behinds so badly, why do they only make exercise products for thin people then?" Oh wait, I forgot, having fun while exercising is only a thin privelage. *rolls eyes*

Beth said...

I find it hard to believe that Dr. Stacey is anywhere NEAR a size 12. So why be concerned?

If I were too big to find a suit in a store, I would just look online. For those who don't have an internet, it's called going to the public library. I don't really think this is a big deal like people are making it out to be.

zubeldia said...

beth - I think Dr. S, whatever her size, is interested in what the lack of larger clothing signifies culturally and socially...

That aside: men's clothing is larger, generally, and they manage to make that :-) Triathlon requires a great deal of strength and endurance and, if you look at the bodies of elite female and male triathletes you can see that their bodies are very similar in terms of bulk and shape - moreso than most other sports... and so it strikes me as odd that there wouldnt be bigger clothing as a matter of course because triathlons are different from other endurance sports - with the exception of rowing, perhaps - because the necessity of strength.. have you ever tried to swim a good freestyle without good shoulder strength, or have you tried to ride a road bike with muscle-free, frail legs?

I have competed in a range of endurance sports over the years and when I do each one my body transforms.. my body got much bigger doing tris, so I am honestly perplexed as to why they don't make bigger sizes...

Gosh, this is a really incoherent message but I'm on my way out for a bike ride ;-)

himawari said...

You know, as a runner who wears either a medium or a small in workout gear (depending on the brand) and is considering branching out to triathlons in the relatively near future and as a person who is getting involved in fat acceptance (though I'm just gotten into the movement fairly recently), I'm kind of embarrassed that I hadn't realized that the problem was that bad. I'm glad to hear from other people that options are available online, though in-store options would be better; shopping for workout gear is hard enough as it is when you can try on all options (and I'm picky, too; I don't like most things that objectively fit me for one reason or another). I'll keep an eye open for larger sizes the next time I'm shopping for workout gear and report back here if I find anything worth mentioning.

Anonymous, more fabric really doesn't cost all that much more. Labor costs and profits constitute a much larger part of the cost. Plus, there's a bigger difference in the amount of fabric between XS and L than between L and XL; where do you draw the line? And yes, while most of the elites are quite small, there are men and women of, quite literally ALL shapes and sizes who compete in triathlons. They all need options for comfortable and reasonably priced gear.

Anonymous said...

If you're a "larger" woman, you're not going to be in a freaking triathlon.

himawari said...

Anonymous, I encourage you to check out the blog "Fat Girl on a Bike."

http://fatgirlonabike.wordpress.com/

Or read "Slow, Fat, Triathlete"

http://www.slowfattriathlete.com/

No, these women aren't elites, but neither are the vast majority of people racing, and they're sure as hell out there in freaking triathlons.

Beth said...

Zubelida, I'm not trying to argue with you, but I do disagree that there is a lack of larger size clothing for women. Doesn't every department store have a "Woman" section for plus sizes? I mean this shouldn't even be necessary, as the "Misses" section goes up to at least a 14.

Also, stores like Wal Mart and Old Navy have succumbed to extreme vanity sizing to where nowadays you CAN be a size 4 and overweight. Trust me, I was there!

Now, I have never been shopping for a TRI outfit, as I am too out of shape, but if Dr. Stacey says there is a shortage of larger sizes, perhaps there is. I just don't think in general this is a problem, as they are available online as well.

Oh, and Zubelida, I would love to read your blog, Body Politics, as it sounds interesting, but it is set to private. I promise not to leave negative comments, I just enjoy reading blogs of healthy people, in hopes I will live that way one day.

Angela said...

While a larger suit requires more fabric, I'm sure the company takes all those things into account when pricing their suits. They know they are going to sell X% of smalls, Y% of mediums, Z% of large, etc. I think most of the cost for a suit is in the construction, not so much the material anyways. In the races I have been too, I've see larger folks wear the sleeveless wetsuits. If you cannot find anything, I recommend you give that a try.

Anonymous said...

Beth, the selection of larger sized clothes compared to "regular" sizes is actually quite limited and often poorly made and badly styled. At my local mall, there's ONE plus-size store compared to THIRTY SIX "regular" stores. A department store's plus-size section takes usually takes up about 5% of the space devoted to "regular" sizes. Often the plus-size selection is shoved in an obscure corner too. Too bad if you're a plus-size woman who wants to go shopping with her regular-size friends. The selection online is a little better but it's a pain in the ass to buy because you have to buy things, try them on, send them back, etc. It's even worse if you want to buy real athletic gear. There is no store in my entire COUNTRY that sells it, not even online. If I want to exercise and train properly, I have to import plus-size gear via US stores on the internet, at great cost. I'd call that a shortage.

toreishi said...

A triathlete for over 10 years and a size 14 (usually), I have never had trouble finding tri clothing that fits. Truth be told, I don't wear a tri suit as I find them too restricting. I wear a bra under my swimsuit for quick transition and I wear my running tights on the bike for shorter races and switch from cycling shorts to tights in longer ones.
Google Team Clydesdale and check out some of their links.
Re: the "Clydesdale" term. I far prefer it to the "Athena" equivalent for women. I just wish that the women in the category were under 5'10"....because, really, is a 5'10" woman "large" when she weighs 150 (the cut-off weight)?

zubeldia said...

hey beth (and anyone who is interested), email me at bodypolitics322 at gmail dot com if you want to read my blog.

Zubeldia.

unhurt said...

i'm a cyclist (in the uk) and i find it hard to find cycle gear to fit, and i'm a UK size 12 or 14 depending on the brand/cut. a lot of shops only carry up to the 10 anyway, and even online it's clear that a lot of the popular brands only make their stuff up to a size 16. meanwhile there are a wide selection of men's tops up to XXL in my local small cycle shop. grrr.

it is very frustrating! (i can't wear a lot of men's gear as the fit is all wrong. see especially padded shorts!)

the message seems to be that no women larger than a UK16 cycle seriously (or even seriously-for-fun), which is infuriating (even a thin woman with a large chest would be pretty much out of luck clothing-wise).

Jen O said...

Interesting that you should post this. I just wrote the following on my blog....enjoy....I'll be linking to you!!!!!

I'm fat, I try and I'm mad.
As I said in an earlier post. I am a triathlete. I’ve never felt entirely comfortable calling myself that, for some reason I picture an ironman/woman with cut arms in the victory-over-the-head pose crossing the finish line when I picture a triathlete. Nope, I don’t look like that when I cross it. I tend to look red faced, sweaty and bloated. But the point is….I cross it. Or at least hope to cross it. I am thinking about the differences in myself from last year to this year. What has changed about me since last summer when I ventured into my first race? Last year, I was nervous and excited to start. Scared about the start and the swim, more scared about the run. This year, I was more nervous about the overall time. I secretly wishedI that last year I hadn’t worked so hard so that this year I had a shot at being faster. My biggest fear was that I would be slower than last year.

And guess what folks….I was.

By a whopping 4 minutes. It really hasn’t affected me that much. What has affected me and pissed me off entirely is this….the following ditty.

I was excited to attend the expo, find some fun tanks, tees, shorts, suits…all of the stuff that helps us identify that we are triathletes. The “I TRI therefore I am” stuff, you all know what I am talking about.

I see women in all shapes and sizes at this all female event. I would venture a guess that 10% of the gals are size 16 and bigger. Some even (gasp) are the same size as me 18 - 22 (depending on the maker)

I go from booth to booth, feeling more and more dejected each castaway bin I tear through. There is NOTHING that fits my frame, let alone my breasts. Nothing for my top or bottom. Even the technical T’s that are free giveaways, I can’t get a tank top because they don’t have it in my size. I settle for the short sleeve version. I am surprised at this point that there isn’t a sign on the back of the tee that says something like “we were forced to give this fat girl a t-shirt”

I am not the size that you imagine a triathlete should be. I don’t look like the rest of my tri team either, but we can go head to head in an event. I want to wear the t-shirts, the skorts. I want a wet suit to swim in lake Michigan in August.

Where are the manufacturers who understand that curvey women (and men?) have money too.

I came home with a bumpersticker and a pair of socks and a crappy attitude resigned to the fact that 2 years into this, I still can’t find a “fit” in this sport.

Fast forward a few days. I decide to venture into a running store. I had the need for a running cap. I figure, surely my head isn’t fat too, maybe I can squeeze into one of their caps. As I am checking out, the cashier and owner are standing there. They asked if I had shopped at the store before. I indicated, that given my size and their selection of clothing….no, I hadn’t EVER purchased anything at their store. I then take it upon myself to tell this guy what a HUGE market he is missing out on. How, just because I am a big girl, doesn’t mean I don’t want to go out there and sweat it up, stink it up with the rest of them. I also told him about the vendors at the event. I honestly think he was embarrassed. What does he do, pull out a catalogue, we start going through it item by plus size wicking wear item. He promises to have some stuff on the shelves for us in the next two months. In the future when I type in plus size running clothes will his page pop up? In the meantime, I’ll wait to see what he puts out in the store.

As I said in an earlier post. I am a triathlete. I’ve never felt entirely comfortable calling myself that, for some reason I picture an ironman/woman with cut arms in the victory-over-the-head pose crossing the finish line when I picture a triathlete. Nope, I don’t look like that when I cross it. I tend to look red faced, sweaty and bloated. But the point is….I cross it. Or at least hope to cross it. I am thinking about the differences in myself from last year to this year. What has changed about me since last summer when I ventured into my first race? Last year, I was nervous and excited to start. Scared about the start and the swim, more scared about the run. This year, I was more nervous about the overall time. I secretly wishedI that last year I hadn’t worked so hard so that this year I had a shot at being faster. My biggest fear was that I would be slower than last year.

And guess what folks….I was.

By a whopping 4 minutes. It really hasn’t affected me that much. What has affected me and pissed me off entirely is this….the following ditty.

I was excited to attend the expo, find some fun tanks, tees, shorts, suits…all of the stuff that helps us identify that we are triathletes. The “I TRI therefore I am” stuff, you all know what I am talking about.

I see women in all shapes and sizes at this all female event. I would venture a guess that 10% of the gals are size 16 and bigger. Some even (gasp) are the same size as me 18 - 22 (depending on the maker)

I go from booth to booth, feeling more and more dejected each castaway bin I tear through. There is NOTHING that fits my frame, let alone my breasts. Nothing for my top or bottom. Even the technical T’s that are free giveaways, I can’t get a tank top because they don’t have it in my size. I settle for the short sleeve version. I am surprised at this point that there isn’t a sign on the back of the tee that says something like “we were forced to give this fat girl a t-shirt”

I am not the size that you imagine a triathlete should be. I don’t look like the rest of my tri team either, but we can go head to head in an event. I want to wear the t-shirts, the skorts. I want a wet suit to swim in lake Michigan in August.

Where are the manufacturers who understand that curvey women (and men?) have money too.

I came home with a bumpersticker and a pair of socks and a crappy attitude resigned to the fact that 2 years into this, I still can’t find a “fit” in this sport.

Fast forward a few days. I decide to venture into a running store. I had the need for a running cap. I figure, surely my head isn’t fat too, maybe I can squeeze into one of their caps. As I am checking out, the cashier and owner are standing there. They asked if I had shopped at the store before. I indicated, that given my size and their selection of clothing….no, I hadn’t EVER purchased anything at their store. I then take it upon myself to tell this guy what a HUGE market he is missing out on. How, just because I am a big girl, doesn’t mean I don’t want to go out there and sweat it up, stink it up with the rest of them. I also told him about the vendors at the event. I honestly think he was embarrassed. What does he do, pull out a catalogue, we start going through it item by plus size wicking wear item. He promises to have some stuff on the shelves for us in the next two months. In the future when I type in plus size running clothes will his page pop up? In the meantime, I’ll go ahead and share his info….let’s hope that he doesn’t let us down.

http://healthatmysize.wordpress.com/