Race, Triathlon & Lifestyle Training


Blog 22: Question and Answer with Aaron Benjamin

Describe your athletic background:  In April 2015 I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, and prior to that diagnosis I had no consistent athletic activity.  I had many abortive attempts at getting active but each time I started, I would stop again within a few months.

What inspired you to get active? Pure and urgent necessity inspired me to leave a sedentary life behind and get active after my diabetes diagnosis.  In April 2015, my A1c (average blood sugar over a 90-day period) was 13.7%, which is a disastrously high level.  Since starting to incorporate a consistent active lifestyle, my A1c has been consistently at non-diabetic levels.

What ​motivates you to train every day? My motivation to train every day varies throughout the year.  I generally feel that I am at my best in my life when I train daily and maintain daily good nutrition, but specific motivation has varied.  In 2015, after my diabetes diagnosis, I was motivated by a very basic need to solve the high blood sugar problem so that I could survive with my vision, kidneys and feet intact, as the complications from blood sugar levels as high as mine would have lead inevitably to blindness, kidney failure and foot neuropathy.   After I got the high blood sugar under in control, I turned my attention in 2016 to triathlon, and my training motivation was oriented towards completing a half-Ironman race in October 2016, and 2 sprint and 3 international distance triathlons leading up to my big race:  IRONMAN 70.3 North Carolina, which I was able to finish on October 22, 2016!  During 2017, my motivation shifted again as I battled some injuries and my goal became exercise for general health and to maintain the base fitness that I grew in 2016.  2018 will be a more race-oriented year with specific race goals that I developed with Kelly.

How has your new lifestyle positively affected those around you? I have two children and I am hoping that my training and racing focus has helped inspired them.  They don’t seem too interested in participating at the moment, but I am hoping that as they get older, that watching my progress will help motivate them to live an active lifestyle as well.   I think that my dramatic change from on the couch to half-Ironman finisher has been able to inspire my friends to get more active as if I can do it, anyone can do it.  Often times people on the couch who see other people being active assume that those people have always been athletic and are uniquely disposed to enjoy athletic endeavors. I think I am an example that you don’t need to have innate athletic abilities or a typical athletic body shape to be an adult-onset athlete. It takes a lot of work, a lot of persistence and a willingness to overcome the obstacles that life invariably throws your way. But with the right support network, community and determination, anything is possible! I still don’t feel that I look like an athlete, but I know that with attention to my training and nutrition, I can be the best athlete that I can be. And that is really all that matters.

  1. What are your goals for 2018 and beyond? My main goal in 2018 is to resume the racing oriented schedule that propelled me to the half-Ironman in 2016.  In the end, 2017 turned into a recovery year from the enormous revolution in lifestyle throughout 2016.  I have a winter plan of doing a running race a month from December through March.  I ran a 5k race on December 2 and am running a 10k in January, a 15k in February and a half marathon in New York City in March.  I am racing my second half-Ironman in Mont-Tremblant, Quebec in June.  After that, I plan to sit down with Kelly and see where we are and what the focus should be for the second half of 2018.
  2. Anything else you would like to share with us? I am grateful every day for having escaped the clutches of a deadly disease and finding exactly the community that I needed in the Charlotte triathlon, running and cycling community.  I started a website to document my experiences and share my thoughts on the process calledupoffthecouch.com in the hope of creating an online community of people committed to getting, and staying, up off the couch in an active life.