By Joshua Papanikolaou

Runner’s Tribe: Since London what have you concentrated on to build back up and bring you to a great stint of training and racing in the US?

Ben St Lawrence: 2012 was quite a disappointing year for me as far as top-end results were concerned. It had been a long time since I had run close to what I considered my best, and by the time I got through Zatopek at the end of 2012, it had been months since I’d run without some pretty significant pain (first with a metatarsal injury, then a hip injury). I had tried a whole lot of different things to get my hip injury to go away, but none were working so I just stopped running altogether for a while after Zatopek. The pain mostly went away, so I started running again and the pain came straight back. It got so bad that a 30 minute run was taking me 90 minutes due to all of the exercises I had to do to get mobile enough to actually run. I wasn’t sure how long I could keep this up – there was very little enjoyment left in running due to the pain, but at the same time, I didn’t want to give up – so I just kept pushing on. I had also been given the details of a great strength coach here in Sydney, Tony Boutagy, so I got in touch with him and we started on a specific strength routine to correct imbalances and help out my running. I’m so glad I did this, as I’m sure it is one of the reasons that I’m running well again now. I also feel that the work Tony and I are doing together will produce more and more benefits into the future.

I was able to get some reasonable training done with Sean Williams and the Sweat Squad here in Sydney, focusing on the style of training that had worked well for me in the past, but still having to hold back on mileage due to the injury. I probably wasn’t a lot of fun to train with during this time, especially the day after a hard session. I would be in a lot of pain while running and may have been pretty grumpy, even hostile at times when running with other people. I tried to avoid people on these days, just to keep the peace. I think Hugh Williams, Sam Strutt as well as a few dog-walkers and cyclists may have copped a bit of unnecessary aggression during this time, sorry about that!

I went to Falls Creek in January, and trained at about 80% up there, slowly getting some fitness back and managing to keep the pain at a manageable level by holding back a little and skipping a few afternoon runs when it got too bad.

Shortly after I got back from Falls, I tried one more form of treatment for my hip, with an Osteo here in Sydney, Chris Jones, who had recently returned from overseas. Within two weeks I was running almost completely without pain – and since then have slowly been getting better and better. With the pain now gone, as well as my improved strength from my training with Tony Boutagy, I was able to start getting some consistent sessions done again. Sean and I were finally starting to see some glimpses of good form, which was exciting for both of us.

I jumped in a 10km road race in Hobart, finishing a close third behind Liam Adams and Nick McCormick, feeling better than I had in a long time. 6 days later I raced even better to finish 3rd in a 10km cross country race in Fukuoka, Japan, a race that Nic Bideau had sorted out for me. I pulled up well after these races, with no return of the hip injury. With this progress, I set my sights on racing well at Stanford, with a hard race at Nationals two weeks beforehand – it was so good to finally be able to concentrate on training and racing, rather than fighting each day to be able to get through a run.

I think my good form now is a result of pain free running, smart strength training, session styles that have been tried and tested and really work for me, slightly lower mileage and easier easy days – allowing for hard sessions, clean eating, and altitude training – which really seems to work for me.

RT: Tell us about your role with 12WBT and how that came about.

BSL: I’m part of the Support Crew with 12WBT (, helping members as they take part in the program, which takes them through a significant lifestyle transformation – covering Nutrition, Exercise and Mindset. I am a running specialist, so most of my time is spent helping in that area, but I also cover general fitness queries as well.

I have also helped with the design of the new running programs on the site, along with Greta Truscott, and have even done some acting (if you can call it that) in their latest TV commercial. I find it to be a very rewarding area to work in, and having been through a pretty significant transformation myself, I love being able to help others do something similar.

The role came about as I was looking to get back into some work after London and had heard through Greta that they were hiring. I applied through the recruitment agency and got the job.

I am very appreciative of the support I receive from New Balance, but after a rather lean year as far as results and prize-money were concerned, I needed an additional source of income moving forward. It also gives me something other than running to focus on for a few hours each day, which is a good thing.

RT: You ran the Healthy Kidney 10K on the roads of New York City, how did it go?

BSL: This was the fourth consecutive year that I’ve run the HK10k, and it’s still one of my favourite races to compete in. It’s held in Central Park, always has an awesome field, and the NYRR really know how to look after visiting elite athletes.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the greatest day out there, finishing around 10th in 29:00. I had a go early on, passing through half way in 14:09 – but faded pretty badly and was in a world of pain the last few km. My road PB is from this race back in 2010, 28:36, so hopefully I can beat that in a future edition of the HK10k.

RT: Dashing off to New York for a race is a great aspect of being an elite runner, what did you get up to in the city that never sleeps?

BSL: I absolutely love the travel aspect of being an international runner, and really enjoy being able to see and experience awesome places all around the world – with NYC being one of my favourite destinations.

Leading up to the race it’s all about fulfilling media obligations, attending the technical meeting and any sponsor’s events – as well as resting the legs, getting in any final training sessions, massage, mingling with the other athletes and also finding some good food and coffee.

After the race, NYRR hosts a very exclusive luncheon at a local restaurant – where we can let the hair down a little and have a nice feed and maybe one or two drinks. Then we are free to get out and enjoy all that the big apple has to offer.

Two of my best mates from Australia live in NYC (Paul Young and Hayden Smith), and through them I’ve made lots of other good friends as well – so we usually organise a big get together- with a meal, some live music or stand up comedy. This year Hayden, who plays Tight End for the New York Jets, took me to their training location in New Jersey to check the place out and meet some of the players and coaches. It is amazing – and I’m so proud of how well he’s doing there. In fact I might be a little too proud, as I copped a fair bit of grief for talking about “my mate Hayden” all the time when I got back to Laguna.

RT: You had a great result on the track in a 5000m at the Oxy meet in LA recently. It’s building into a quality event with stacked races, tell us about your race?

BSL: I was really happy with how I backed up only 6 days after a disappointing run in NYC to run my second fastest 5000m ever. It was a bit of a tactical race, and the times weren’t as fast as I had expected – but it was good race practice and I finished quite strongly for 3rd in 13:18 behind Mo Farah in 13:15 and Dathan Ritzenhein in 13:17. Looking at the start-list, I figured it would probably be won in around 13:10 and I just wanted to get in the race and be competitive, thinking that if I could do so, then I’d run pretty close to my best of 13:10.

Being in one of the outside positions, I decided to get around all of the traffic and slot in towards the front. I didn’t intend to be right behind the pacemaker, but once I got going this seemed a decent place to spend the first few laps. I noticed a bit of a gap forming behind me a couple of times when the pace quickened, and didn’t want to end up being a sitting duck on my own out in front of the pack, so I slowed to let a couple of guys go around me and then just got in and raced the field.

Galen Rupp went to the lead with 900m to go and put in a big surge for 300m, I was able to respond and go with the move, which left just the three Oregon Project guys and me in contention (as well as Aaron Braun who had bravely been out on his own for a few km). Ritz put the hammer down with 700m to go and Mo and I also moved past Rupp (who had run a 1500m earlier that night). Rupp pulled out with 600 to go and the pace was on as we passed Brauny with 550m to go. I dug deep and tried to race all the way to the line, but Mo put 3 seconds into me and Ritz was just out of reach. I think I finished with about a 2 min final 800m. I feel that if the race had played out differently, with a bunch of guys running fast from the gun, I may have been able to run close to my best – which is a good sign moving forward.

This was the final race of the trip for all of the MTC guys and girls who had travelled to LA together, so we hit up In-n-Out Burger and had a bit of fun to celebrate a successful 5 weeks in the USA. You develop a real sense of camaraderie after spending so much time training, travelling and competing together – so it’s good to be able to take a step back and enjoy the little milestones along the way.

RT: What was your favourite running location for the trip?

BSL: I love training in Laguna Mountain, and I’d have to say that the Stanford track is now my favourite place to race.

RT: What’s next on the agenda for you in the coming months?

BSL: I’ll put in a training block with the SWEAT crew and some work back here in Sydney, I’ll also race the Launceston 10km on June 16th. I’ll then fly to the UK on July 1st for my mate Hayden’s wedding, not sure if I mentioned it but he plays for the New York Jets. I’ll race a 5000m in Heusden on July 13th, and then put in a final altitude training stint at St Moritz before racing the 10 000m in Moscow on August 10th. I’ve been repeating the number 10 three times in my head a lot. I’m racing the 10k on the 10th, and I’d like to come top 10.