On the Run – Ben Duffus

Ben ‘Buttons’ Duffus is a true gentleman on and off the trails. He is an incredible talent and needs little introduction to anyone who runs trails. In the years ahead Ben will win trophies for either running, comedy or both. This is how he will pull it off.

Most useful piece of advice received?

When I started running, I had a hard time controlling my enthusiasm and would often end up injured as a result. My coach at the time would always tell me the oxymoronic phrase “festina lente”, which is Latin for “make haste slowly”. At the time, the contradiction of the saying would only fuel my frustration, but as I’ve matured I’ve come appreciate what he meant. Whether it’s slowly building up my training towards a race, slowly building up in race distance, or slowly making one’s way through the field during an ultramarathon, often the quickest way to get where I want to be, is by being patient.

How do you answer back to people who say Ultra running and trail running is unhealthy due to its extreme nature?

Overall, exercise is very good for both physical and mental health (not that one can really separate the two). Of course, like with anything, if one does more than they can handle at any given time, then problems arise. So the challenge is finding the sweet-spot of giving our body adequate stress that it will adapt and move us closer towards our goals, without overdoing things and breaking down.

What future events are in sight for you?

My focus for this year is two of the UTWT events, specifically TransGrancanaria and CCC. In between those I’ll be basing myself in Europe and doing the Maxi-Race Marathon in Annecy, the Mont-Blanc VK and the Eiger 51km. If all goes well, I’ll then step up to my first 100 miler at the Great Southern Endurance Run in November.

Training philosophy?

I’m a scientist by training, so I like to keep up to date with the latest research regarding sports science, physiology, etc. and implement what I can in training. I’m not a huge mileage guy but include a couple of faster sessions each week as well as plenty of running-specific strength work. Of course, recovery between sessions is at least as important as the training itself, so I make sure to get plenty of sleep, eat well and do a lot of body work.

Every country/ culture has a different style they bring to the trail, what is your favourite?

I’m probably very biased, but I’ll have to say my favourite is the “Australian” way. Our trail running scene gets strongly influenced by all the marketing coming from the bigger economies of the USA and Europe. This means we’re able to pick-and-choose our favourite aspects from those. However, we still have our own backgrounds and manage to impart a uniquely Aussie feel to it.

Do you have any pre-race rituals?

I try not to have too much of a set routine before races because it’s likely to get interrupted and I don’t want that to throw off my whole preparation. Having said that, I do still like to be as in control as possible in the few days before a race and, if it’s a big event, I tend to go into my shell a bit. It’s not something I really do consciously, but I’ve found it’s just something that happens as I start to focus and prepare myself mentally for the enormity of the upcoming challenge.

What is a great way to clear out your pre-race dinner before the start gun goes off?

I actually don’t tend to have much for pre-race dinner. For the reasons implicated by the question, I try to eat most of my food in the morning the day before a race and only snack in the afternoon. Come race morning, I have a strong cup of coffee and do some dynamic stretches to get things moving.

Do you party at the pasta party (carb load)?

As I said in the previous question, I’m not gorging myself at the pasta party the night before a race. I do tend to slightly increase the percentage of carbs I eat in the week before a race, but generally, let the reduction in training take care of replenishing my glycogen stores.

Ben can be followed on social media and the web at


Facebook (@BenDuffusOfficial)

Instagram account (@benduffus)