Representing our country’s at the highest level within the sport is something that cannot be taken lightly. The talented athletes that we have selected to fly the Australian and New Zealand flags have been knuckling down and preparing for perhaps the biggest race of their lives in just a few weeks at the Skyrunning World Championships.
To celebrate their dedication and try to glean some inspiration and information out of them Skyrunning ANZ will be catching up with each athlete for a quick chat about their preparation for the World Champs!
First up is the massively talented and sometimes understated Ben Duffus. Ben placed 3rd in the 2014 Skyrunning World Championships at MT Blanc, he is full time physics student/researcher completing his PHD. Ben lives at the foot of Mt Coot-tha (287m high) in Brisbane. Despite not having access to the long, vert rich, mountains of the south his dedication and sometimes OCD approach to training means he is world class.
Skyrunning ANZ: What (special thing) have you done over the last few months to get ready for the world champs.
Ben: There’s no one special thing that can be done to get ready for an event; it’s all about consistency, day in, day out. I’m very lucky that running and mountains has become a cornerstone of my lifestyle, which I thoroughly enjoy (that’s why I do it!). I get plenty of sleep, train hard, eat well, do heaps of supplementary mobility work and self massage but also get regular massage and physio treatments.
Skyrunning ANZ: Representing the country, what does it mean to you?
Ben: I feel like the ANZ team has a bit of an underdog status at these World Championships. The sport is still dominated by Europeans, so we are a bit of a novelty coming from the opposite side of the world (and add to that the fact that Australia is the flattest continent on the planet!). But everyone loves an underdog, so I feel like we always get quite a bit of support over there. I also think we have a very strong team this year, so I’m looking forward to seeing how we all perform.
Skyrunning: If you could give one tip a new runner looking to one day be standing in your shoes what would it be.
Ben: Train and race smart, but enjoy the process as well. I believe that having a knowledgeable coach really helps with this.
Skyrunning ANZ: When times get tough in training and racing what is your “secret” to keep pushing or go faster.
Ben: It’s during the tough times in training and (especially) racing that I really try to keep my thoughts centred on the present. I can almost always keep going for another couple of meters, so by just linking up ‘those next couple of meters’ and then those ‘next couple of meters’, the finish line eventually arrives. I also prefer to race in scenic locations, so appreciating the beauty around me can also serve as great distraction!
Skyrunning ANZ: If you could run any trail or race in the world which would it be and why
Ben: I always find these “pick one trail” questions really hard since there are so many places I haven’t been or haven’t even heard of yet. Having said that, the Himalayas spring to mind as a place that I would love to one day explore.
Here is one of Ben’s biggest weeks in his prep for the world champs:
Saturday 7/6: 6hrs on Mt Warning
Sunday 8/6: 5hrs at Polly’s Kitchen Hill including 80min worth of efforts
Monday 9/6: 1hr strength work + 90min easy cycling on Mt Coot-tha
Tuesday 10/6: 90min undulating run at Mt Coot-tha with 40min worth of efforts
Wednesday 11/6: 90min hilly run at Mt Coot-tha with hard hiking
Thursday 12/6: 90min hilly run at Mt Coot-tha but easy running
Friday 13/6: 3hrs hilly run on Mt Coot-tha with 54min worth of hill reps