What are your major running goals for 2015?

One goal really – Olympic qualifying time for the marathon. I’m focussing solely on that – I toyed with trying to qualify for World Champs but I think if I’m going to step up a level and run 3 minutes faster for the marathon – then I need a big block of training and trying to qualify this April, and then run a difficult World Champs course in Beijing probably wasn’t the best route to the Olympics.

What does a typical training week currently look like for you?

Currently it’s a normal week but with a bit of a 5-10k slant as I have been trying to improve my speed again after 2 years without a track season. The volume is about 160km a week, with a long run at 2hours to 2.15 but the sessions are a mix of track and grass and more like 6-8k of volume and longer recoveries than my marathon sessions. I double day most days still though.

Can you talk us through one of your most brutal training/track sessions?

Most people will probably think my most brutal sessions are my marathon long run sessions – 35km with last 10k hard. While these are tough, the sessions I dread most are the ones that mix hills with hard mile reps on the flat. Moving from slogging up 500m hills to trying to then run fast on the flat really hurts – if it was just one or the other that would be ok!!

Still on the session front, do you have a session that is a great marathon form predictor for you?

Yep – my progressive long runs. If I can get through a 35-38km run and be able to gradually pick up the pace to my marathon pace AND still feel reasonably in control then I know I’m going well. I tend to do these on the grass to lessen the impact but the key is feeling in control. If I’m having to push flat out I’m doing it too hard – a heart rate monitor helps me here. The actual average pace isn’t too much of a goal, but if I can keep accelerating even after 2hours+ of running, that’s a good sign for me.

Do you currently do much gym work?

Almost nothing. I do pilates sessions twice a week on the reformer things. I find that pretty tough to be honest!!

Do you have your sites set on making the GB team for Rio 2016?

Yep – that’s my aim right now, everything is geared towards that. I’ll have a crack at it later this year, and then probably London marathon next year which will be the ‘trial’ for the Great Britain team.

If you could give young up and coming runners some advise, what would it be?

The main thing I’ve learnt is that if you put in the work, you will improve. Don’t be worried about how fast others are running. As a junior, I was nowhere near qualifying for a team of any sort – I didn’t break 9minutes for the 3k until I was 19! But if you keep the training consistent, the improvements come. Sometimes huge leaps come out of almost nowhere so just keep plugging away.

A bit off the running subject, but what’s one of your favourite Sydney restaurant at the moment?

Hmmm good question! I am going to say a Japanese place called Yachi-Yo in Darlinghurst near where I live. It’s got everything – cosy tiny Japanese room, weird specials I don’t ask questions about what’s in, and the owner loves offering out sake! The kingfish sashimi is amazing…. And it’s not pricey. Win!

Thanks Ben, and best of luck this year.

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