10,000M Track Star
By Tatyana Leonov
London Olympian Ben St Lawrence is the Australian record holder in the 10K on the track. He’s got tips for you.
Q What’s the sporting achievement of which you’re most proud?
A Walking into the Olympic stadium for the 10,000m final in London alongside 30 of the best athletes on the planet. Iwassoproudtobeout there in the green and gold, reflecting on the bumpy road I’d taken to get there. The result I’m most proud of is setting a new Australian record of 27:24 for the 10,000m at Stanford University [in the US] in 2011 — which also qualified me for the Olympics.
Q How has your coach helped you achieve?
A Sean Williams, and the squad I train with [SWEAT; sweatsydney. com.au] offers an environment that’s serious enough to get the hard work done, but provide banter and a social atmosphere. Sean understands the science of running, is there for me when I need advice and encouragement, and can recognise when I’m pushing too hard.
Q “I train regularly for our club’s monthly 10km road race, but never get any faster. What can I do?”
A Find a good coach and run intervals regularly. Every week, run a threshold or tempo run, plus a long run (it doesn’t need to be fast, just long). Include hill repetitions once a week and on non-running days focus on rest and strengthening your legs, hips, glutes and core.
Q Why do East Africans dominate at the longer distances?
A They have a genetic predisposition and a huge talent pool to draw from. From a young age, there are large numbers dedicated purely to running, often training in groups where only the strongest will make it to an elite level. For those from poorer backgrounds, there’s also the motivation to rise above poverty.
Q Who do you admire?
A Paralympian Kurt Fearnley trains hard and is an absolute warrior in competition. He won Olympic gold [in the marathon] with a flat tyre and then traversed the Kokoda Track using only his arms. Despite all of this, he’s humble and always tries to give his time to help others.
Q How do you fuel up before a big race?
A On carbs and caffeine. I typically eat natural, plant-based meals, but leading into a race I’ll have a banana, rice milk and beetroot juice (for the nitrates) smoothie. Leading into the race, I’ll sip on a carb/electrolyte drink, and just before I’ll have energy gel with Red Bull. This mix of simple carbs and caffeine gets me energised without having anything heavy sitting in my gut.
Q What are your goals for 2013 and beyond?
A To compete in the 2013 World Championships in Moscow, 2014 Commonwealth Games in Glasgow, 2015 World Championships in Beijing and 2016 Olympics in Rio.
Q Who’s the best- looking female athlete around?
A My vote goes to Russian long jumper Darya Klishina. She’s talented, dedicated and (usually) minimally clothed.