Strength in numbers: Training with Gordon BensonThe triathlete who won Britain’s first gold medal at the European Games is a keen café racer…
The number of hours that Benson trains each week
On a typical day, he trains in all three disciplines, with breaks for refuelling. This can mean a 90-minute morning swim, a 60-minute afternoon run and a 65K evening bike ride.
To increase running speed, Benson recommends strides: “Not a sprint, but running at 80-90 per cent for 100m.” For swimming, he advocates training with paddles “to build up your lats, allowing for a better catch”. And for cycling, he suggests spinning at a high cadence and changing down the gears: “It’s easier on the legs, so you can exert more power when racing.”
The number of gold medals he has won
When going for gold, fine-tuning the transition from swim to cycle is vital. “I would hose down my wetsuit, then practise taking it off as fast as I could,” says Benson. He suggests signing up with someone else, too – “You’ll enjoy it more and spur each other on” – and taking coffee breaks during training: “Low body fat puts you at risk of catching a cold, so I never go straight from swimming to cycling – I’ll make a café stop to let my hair dry.”
- Discipline: Triathlon
- Age: 22
- Height: 190cm
- Weight: 78kg
- Achievements: Three gold medals for triathlon: European Triathlon Champs 2014 (individual); World Triathlon Champs 2014 (team); European Games 2015 (individual). Part of Team GB for the Rio Olympics.
Benson’s daily calorie intake during training
Breakfast is porridge, with Golden Syrup added for flavour, and on competition days he’ll have a croissant, too, for extra carbs. Benson eats three protein-based main meals throughout the day, with Müller Rice or poached eggs on toast between training. Hydration is key: “I drink squash and Red Bull, and I’ve always got a bottle of water in my hand.”
The number of days he spends recovering
Friday is Benson’s recovery day each week, but he doesn’t rest completely. He swims – “The water helps the muscles recover” – and does yoga. “I find yoga relaxing, mentally and physically,” he says. “It’s also helped with my bike position. I feel more comfortable, so I can put out more power. That generates speed, so it’s brought on my results as well.”