Applied energy – from couch potato to GB triathlete

Source: press release, 14 February 2022

Rushton is due to represent Great Britain in his age category at two European triathlon events later this year (photo: Kenny Girvan)
Rushton is due to represent Great Britain in his age category at two European triathlon events later this year (photo: Kenny Girvan)

A North-east dad has gone from couch potato to securing a Great Britain triathlon team spot – just 2 years after a decision to change his unhealthy lifestyle.

Ben Rushton, who lives in Aberchirder, Aberdeenshire, was 12 stone 9 pounds (82 kg) when he made a 2020 New Year’s resolution to get fit and eat better.

With the help of a personal trainer, he lost nearly three-and-a-half-stone in 11 months, getting down to 9 stone 4 lbs (60 kg). However, getting fitter also led to a new passion – triathlon; something he never envisaged doing.

Rushton, 28, has qualified for the Great Britain team at age-category level (25 to 29) for the European Sprint Distance Championships in Germany in August and the European Cross Triathlon Championships in Spain – again in his age-group category – just 18 months after taking up the sport.

Through social media Rushton, who is 5 feet 6 inches, spotted that Portsoy-based Aurora was holding a “try a triathlon” event and decided to give it a go. Despite not being a great swimmer and never riding a road bike until the start of his new fitness regime, he was first home in a training run 10 weeks after the trial event in June 2020.

Rushton says a huge amount of credit goes to his team-mates and his personal trainer Stephen Gauld, of Core Nutrition and Fitness, who developed a plan for Rushton for his initial goals and tailored it when things began to take off.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Rushton’s first official race was a triathlon in Chester in June 2021 where he finished sixth overall and fourth in his age group (ag). AG is one step off pro-level triathletes, and next up is ‘elite level’ where athletes take part in the Olympics.

Rushton’s biggest success to date was coming fourth and first home in his age group in the Aviemore Cross Triathlon in September 2021. This put him in the mix for selection at GB level.

Rushton will represent Great Britain in the European Sprint Distance Championships in Munich in August and, a month later, at the European Cross Triathlon Championships in Bilbao, where a mountain bike is used instead of a road bike. He is also waiting to find out if he has qualified for the age group category event at the World Cross Triathlon Championships in Romania in June.

Rushton, a completions engineer with Magma Products, a Global Energy Group company, says, “I woke up one day at the start of January 2020 and decided enough was enough. I needed a healthier lifestyle. It was all takeaways and visits to the pub. While that was fun, I wanted to do something different. I had tried various fad diets and the odd run in the past, but nothing worked, or I couldn’t stick to it. I knew I needed professional support – and engaging with Stephen has been a life-changing decision.”

“In February 2020 I bought my first road bike. My first ride was 8 km and I slept for 3 hours after it! I kept going, then the Covid lockdown happened. There wasn’t much else to do so I kept increasing the levels of training and I’ve not looked back since,” he adds.

Stephen Gauld, who helps people at all levels, says, “Losing 22 kg has been a crazy transformation for Ben. Most people overestimate what they can do in a few months, and underestimate what they can do in a few years. Sometimes you need to go all in and just trust the process. Ben’s journey from essentially a standing start to qualifying for European events is an amazing story.”

In January, Rushton became a dad when his fiancée, Adele Henderson, 29, gave birth to Aria. In September 2021, he used his new-found fitness level to raise GBP 5,000 for the Alzheimer’s Society in memory of his grandad, John, after taking part in the Ride Across Britain event. This is a 970-mile cycle over 9 days from Land’s End to John O’Groats.

Rushton says, “It’s fair to say I’ve really got into it. Adele, my family, in particular my mum and dad – Helen and Paul, and Adele’s mum and dad – Elaine and Duncan – and friends have all been very supportive. It takes effort and consistency but I’m sure if I can do it then so can others. Triathletes seem to get better as they get older. I’ve enjoyed it over these past 18 months and just going to see how far I can go.”

The triathlon success has led to a significant increase in costs for Rushton to follow his dreams. He has sold his car to help fund international trips and other costs.

Rushton is seeking sponsorship from food and travel costs through to firms looking to raise their profile through branding. Limar has agreed to supply its helmets and glasses to Rushton, who is now an ambassador for the Italian firm.

If you can help Rushton, please get in contact benrushton1@aol.com.

Rushton’s old diet

Microwave meals
Takeaways; eating out
Alcohol most weekends
Chocolate; fizzy drinks
Crisps … and more crisps!

Rushton’s new diet

Clean eating – fresh food and wholefoods; no processed foods
Fruit and vegetables
High-protein foods such as chicken and fish
Pasta
Bagels (usually with tuna or turkey rashers and cheese)
Around 2,000 calories per day required
Very limited amount of alcohol

Rushton’s previous exercise plan

Going for a walk now and again

Rushton’s current exercise plan

Monday: (rest day) – 30-minute walk
Tuesday: 2,000 m swim, 30-min weights session
Wednesday: 1-hour bike workout 36 km (indoors)
Thursday: 45-minute run workout (roughly 10 km)
Friday: 3,200 m swim
Saturday: 2-hour bike ride, outdoors (about 75 km)
Sunday: 90-minute run (approximately 19 km)
(*training regime is stepped up in summer and before events)