Triathlon has seen Ben Murphy represent his country internationally and, while he may have had to approach his training differently over the past couple of years, swim, bike, run helped him get through the challenges of being a doctor during the pandemic.
Murphy has always enjoyed taking part in different sports, including swimming from a young age and then later running, before picking up cycling during his years at the University of Birmingham while completing his studies to become a doctor.
“In my first year of uni I enjoyed MedSoc running and badminton, but when it hit second year, I was looking for something a bit more. I already had a friend in the tri club so decided to give it a go,” the Leeds and Bradford Triathlon Club member said.
“I had a really positive experience when I was younger with the local triathlon club in Bristol called Bad Tri. My parents used to drop me and my brother off on a Sunday and it was always a really good session with such great coaching.
“Swimming is something I have done since I can remember. I used to swim with my local club in competitions and galas, and have always enjoyed running as both my parents ran. I picked up cycling to make the trio and joined the uni tri club to get fit, the social aspect was really important for me as well.”
Murphy’s enjoyment of swim, bike, run has grown ever since including becoming men’s captain of the university triathlon club, before going onto represent the Great Britain Age-Group Team in triathlon.
“I met some amazing people in the club and they formed such a massive part of my uni experience”, Murphy said. “I was in the club for five years in total and I enjoyed it so much that I joined the performance and development squad for my last two years of uni. I also took on a bit more responsibility as men’s captain for a year.
“It was with the University of Birmingham Triathlon Squad when I really started dedicating more time and energy to triathlon. I wanted a clear goal so thought I’d aim to qualify for the Age-Group Team.
“My first competition was the Gold Coast World Champs in 2018 which was such an amazing experience. We went out for 10 days and I think it probably was the best race of my life, everything clicked together, it went really well. I was so proud of getting there and performing well for myself. I raced the next year in Weert at the 2019 European Champs, but that wasn’t quite as successful.
“I had just finished my university medicine finals, so my priorities were on studies rather than quality training, and I hadn’t quite appreciated how hot it was going to be! My race was in 32-degree heat, and I actually collapsed from heatstroke about 2.5k from the end, so, I wasn’t able to finish that race, which was really, really gutting at the time but I’m still proud to have got there.
“That’s part of the fun of triathlon for me, it’s how challenging it can be and how you can push yourself to find where your limit is in swim, bike and run, and I think I found mine on that course.”
Due to work commitments and the pandemic, Murphy had to change his approach to training as he was not able to dedicate as much time to training as he had done previously, but swim, bike, run has remained an important part of his routine during the challenging period of the past two years.
“I definitely wouldn’t have made it through the challenges of the last two years if I hadn’t had swim, bike and run to fall back on,” Murphy reflected. “My perspective of training had to change slightly. While working a full-time rota, and working through the pandemic, it wasn’t really feasible to expect to have the energy for training at my previous level.
“Once I changed my perspective a bit, I just did it for the love of swimming, running and cycling and really enjoyed the freedom of getting out on my bike after a hard week of work, or swimming after work and letting out a bit of frustration in the pool, or heading out for a run with friends having a nice chat or debrief - it definitely all helped me get through.
“I am able to train more regularly and put more focus back on triathlon now because I finished my first two years of work as a doctor in August called foundation training which are very busy years. I have been working part-time since then.
“I’m currently working as a hospice doctor three days a week, which is both really rewarding and allowing me a lot more scope to increase my training. As I up my training, my goal would be to work towards qualifying for the Age-Group Team again.”
Murphy is one of four members of the British Triathlon community who will be part of a discussion celebrating LGBT+ History Month which will be shared on British Triathlon’s digital platforms at the end of February.
“I came out as gay when I was 18 years old, and I am fortunate enough to have such supportive family and friends,” Murphy said.
“I’ve felt so accepted within triathlon, and it’s so important to make sure it is an inclusive space where people have the confidence to be themselves.
“I think it’s a really important month to reflect on how far we’ve come as a community. Even going back a couple of decades you wouldn’t have had interview pieces like this or a panel discussion about LGBT+ people in sport.
“It’s nice to acknowledge how far we have come, but also important to realise there is still some way to go, especially in other sports and in other countries.”