In our Checklist series of interviews we feature amazing people doing inspirational things in the world of fitness and the outdoors. This week we speak to two-time World Duathlon Champion, Emma Pallant. Emma's early career saw her competing in long and middle distance running events as a GB athlete. however, after undergoing knee surgery in 2012, Emma decided to make the move to triathlon.
In her first year after the surgery, Emma became the Double British Sprint champion and the Standard Distance Triathlon champion, something that suggests she may have made the right decision. She has since gone on to win Ironman 70.3 events across the UK, twice and achieved second place in the 70.3 World Ironman Championships in 2017. Here we find out what life looks like for one of the world's leading triathletes.
Emma is an athlete for Vifit Sport, AfterShokz and HOKA ONE ONE.
What was the last thing you trained for?
The last thing I trained for was Ironman Lanzarote, a nice hot and windy ironman, I would say one of the toughest Ironman races on the circuit so it was interesting training.
What kind of schedule/program did you follow?
My coach Michelle Dillon set my program. I think that it's really important if you have a goal where you want to achieve your potential that you invest in coaching. Someone who has the knowledge and has been there and done it before themselves, as well as someone you work long term with them so they really get to know you as an athlete. Following a general non-specific or personally tailored programme will never get you as far as following one from an expert who gets to know you personally.
I had full confidence in Michelle and so really invested into the programme and followed it to the TT; updating her after each session and about life in general. Our goal was to get the best swim, bike and run at Lanzarote that I could achieve on the day. It was more than just training the swim-bike-run but also the recovery side of things and and nutrition.
How do you evaluate your performance of a training session? What does a successful one look like?
To me, a successful training session means that there was a clear goal set for - and not only that I hit the goal but that I did the pre and post workout goals as well. Being fuelled well before, after and during, being mobilised before the workout and stretched well after for recovery - so looking at the day as a whole. Then around the week as a whole as well, identifying the key sessions and making sure the easy is super easy in the week so that the hard can be hard.
In my experience, now I‚Äôve learnt that consistency - nailing a week, a month and year - is far more important than one hard session. I used to be very good at doing everything with my full energy and so never got the most out of my week. Rather than nailing easier sessions by keeping them super easy I was always giving myself a pat on the back if I was faster than the training plan set. So, nailing a session if it‚Äôs an easy one can mean getting lower numbers - they can often be the hardest ones when you're feeling good and want to push harder.
What events/challenges are you looking forward to/training for now?
I'm now training for the World Ironman 70.3 Champs in Nice in September. I want to really nail the best I can give on the day regardless of the overall results. Although another world podium would be nice.
What trainers do you use (specific model)?
I train in HOKA ONE ONE Mach and Clifton (Clifton for longer and Mach for shorter long runs). Then I do my rep sessions in Carbon Rockets and race in the Carbon X.
What apparel do you use (anything specific preferred)?
I like to wear tight short hot pants to run in and the baggy non fitted vests, it just makes my breathing easy and rib cage nice and relaxed - you get good tan lines too. Unless of course I‚Äôm training in London and then it tends to be the more clothes the better.
What are the key items in your kit bag?
I like to always have a Vifit recovery protein bar (vifitsport.com, ¬£12.95) on me because eating protein within 20 minutes of a key workout is so important to recovery, and it also aids consistency. Then, in my bottle I always have Precision Hydration 500g electrolyte (Amazon, ¬£9.99) - again helps recovery and quality of the training because water alone flushes out the system and I'm a heavy sweater.
I like to have a spare pair of gym clothes as well as a pair of HOKA ONE ONE Cavu 2 (HOKA ONE ONE, ¬£105) so that I can always fit in a recovery yoga session wherever I am. I also have a cricket ball and a TheraBand loop (Amazon, $8.99) so I can loosen off my muscles and fire up my glutes for running.
What one item of your gear would you implore someone else to use?
I think my AfterShokz wireless headphones (Amazon, $119.95). I‚Äôve always used music to train with - even a stretching session in the gym can be so much more productive if you listen to a podcast, using your brain for multitasking so that you're learning at the same time as stretching. I love to run in them because they're sweat proof (which has been a massive problem to me before) and don‚Äôt need go into the ears. It means that I don‚Äôt get fluid stuck in my ear and I can still hear if someone's talking to me. They are lightweight, small and I never travel without them. The battery life lasts for ages - I love them.
Where‚Äôs the best place you ever trained or competed?
I love the South of Spain because we always train there in the winter and I know the set up and the people there. We have had some great Team Dillon warm weather training camps there and it‚Äôs so awesome for cycling - the weather helps too. It feels like my second home.
I love a good hilly race so Pays D‚ÄôAix and Barcelona half Ironman races hold fond memories for me.
What‚Äôs the exercise you hate doing the most?
The thing I‚Äôm worst at is training in the gym because in-season it is all easy functional work, so can be really boring. It‚Äôs key to stay injury-free but you definitely don‚Äôt get any endorphins from it.
What‚Äôs your ultimate workout song?
Walk off the earth - Rule the World
How many push-ups can you do in one go?
Had to try this one, 32!
If you could compete/train anywhere in the world where would it be?
South Africa, my boyfriend lives in Joburg and I love it there.
Who‚Äôs your fitness/sporting hero?
Probably Michelle Dillon because she has taught me how to be more than just a committed athlete. She has inspired my whole life and made me as passionate about coaching and helping others as I am about my racing.
Is there any sport you‚Äôre really bad at?
Ha ha, well my brother is a pro ballet dancer and he would say it‚Äôs an art as well as a sport because of the physical demands - I‚Äôm certainly not elegant in my dance moves.
What‚Äôs your favorite post-competition/challenge meal?
Supplement or all-natural?
All natural. I love my Vifit protein bars but they only contain natural ingredients.