I was not an athletic child growing up. I’ve struggled with my weight, and I have been dealing with pain caused by a bulging disc in my back since I was nineteen years old (now ruptured). In fact, it was my debilitating back pain that led me to triathlon in an attempt to take back my health. Despite all this, I have won numerous races, countless podiums and achieved more than I ever dreamed possible in sport. My name is Melanie Benson and I am an age grouper. And yes, the old cliche applies: if I can do it so can you!
I started competitive swimming when I was 12 years old and excelled in middle distance free style events, achieving modest success at a regional level. When I was nineteen I became interested in triathlon and was lucky enough to be mentored by an exceptional local triathlete named Steve Dyke. Steve took me under his wing in cycling and showed me how to train and race. To improve my weakest discipline I joined my university’s cross country running team and I was consistently at the back of the pack eating everyone’s dust. But after two years of struggle and very hard work I improved a lot and won the Jubilee Cup- an award for being ‘Cross Country Runner of the Year’.
Since then I have competed at the pointy end of the age group spectrum in triathlon, winning a number of races and podiums in Canada, the U.S (when I lived in Texas and was coached by the great Michelle LeBlanc) and now the Middle East where I continue to race. It was while living in the United Arab Emirates that I joined the Trisutto program and got my best results (and I’m confident you will too):
1st Overall Dubai International Triathlon 2015 4:46, 1st Overall 2XU Mamzar Olympic 2015 2:11, 7th Overall (including pro field) IM 70.3 Bahrain, 3rd Overall Abu Dhabi ITU Long Course 2016, 4th Overall IM 70.3 Italy 2018, 1st Overall TriYas 2018, 1st Overall Hudriyat Olympic 2019 and numerous other podiums.
I know firsthand the power of Brett’s program. It is absolutely possible to go from ordinary to extraordinary results with little athletic talent, and even physical limitations as severe as a ruptured disc. With a smart program and sound injury protocol you can train pain free and get in the best shape of your life.
But I didn’t say it was quick and easy…
It has been widely acknowledged that to get very good (phenomenal) in anything, you need to have practised for roughly 10 000 hours. I believe that people get to the top through effort applied consistently over time.
Brett has another way of saying it in his characteristic style, “hurry slowly”. It’s so true.
So what does all that mean for you? The average triathlete trains about ten hours per week. To accumulate 10 000 hours you need to train for 1000 weeks. That’s eighteen years without any breaks, so realistically twenty years. Whether you train twenty hours a week or ten the fact remains the same- you have to put in the time.
How much time it will take you to be ‘great’ is determined by how quickly you adapt and absorb the training stress. That is where I focus a good deal of attention on my athletes and where I believe we can get marginal gains to make the process more efficient. That is how you ‘hurry slowly’. But if just we just hurry and you get more stress than you can handle the result is illness, injury and burnout.
My #1 rule: avoid injury at all cost!
I want to be totally transparent with my athletes and anyone considering joining my program. This is my truth and now the Firstwave approach to training. We don’t take short cuts and as Brett would say, “hard work works.”
It’s not for everyone. Hard work…10 000 hours…Consistency. Not very sexy! Even discouraging for some. But I use the 10 000 hour rule to fuel my fire and I encourage you to do the same. At thirty four years old and fifteen years into triathlon I don’t think my best races are behind me. I am grateful for each hour I get to spend doing something that I enjoy and I embrace the process.
Hour by hour, one step at a time, one stroke at a time, with each revolution, we are all climbing our own person Everest. I look forward to supporting you on your journey to achieve success on your terms, whatever that may be.