Nickname: Em or Brichacek
Career highlight to date: Representing Australia at the World Cross Country Championships (2008 and 2009) also winning my first open national titles in cross country and 10000m (2011/2012)
Favourite distance: 5000m
Running idol: Emil Zatopek and Herb Elloitt
RT: Emily, good run at the Carlsbad 5000m? How was the race experience?
EB: Thanks, I was really happy with my result and how I raced. I felt really strong finishing and even though I was pretty nervous before the race I felt like I paced myself well. The whole experience was so much fun, this was my first international race as a senior and I felt like a gained a lot of confidence in myself from the run. The Americans’ enthusiasm is fantastic and we were looked after so well before and after the race. I would definitely like to come back and do it again!
RT: Where are you now and what is on the cards?
EB: At the moment I am training up at Mount Laguna in San Diego. It is beautiful up here, and we are getting some really good training done. We did our first track session this morning at about 4000ft. It was definitely one of the toughest sessions I have ever done, but I got through thanks mostly to Eloise’s encouragement during the session and carefully selected pump-up playlist! I had a headache after the session and my chest is still burning , so after a month of this I better be a lot fitter. I’ll race a 5000m at Mt Sac in two weeks, come up here for another week of training before flying to San Francisco for a 10000m at Stanford.
RT: How is life on the road treating you? Got some good company?
EB: So far i’m loving it, and it has to be one of the best experiences to date for me. The company leaves a little to be desired….haha joking! We have a fantastic group of people, of the girls it is myself, Eloise Wellings, Lara Tamsett and Julia Bleasdale so we have some great sessions together (we all finished within about 5 seconds of each other at Carlsbad). On the boys side it is Brett Robinson, Jordy Williamz, Ryan Gregson, Craig Miller and Andy Vernon. At the moment Sonia is up here making sure we are well behaved and next week she is replaced by Garry Henry.
RT: In your Runner’s Tribe blog last January you outlined a typical week of training. Interestingly your training included cross training on the bike or in the pool two days a week, and training in the gym or yoga six days a week. Do you try to keep a similar routine whilst traveling?
EB: Up here I’m running six times a week and having one rest day. It is a bit harder getting cross training done due to limited facilities but I’m just monitoring how my body is going and making sure my easy days are VERY easy. I’m trying to keep my gym work going, but just have to modify what I’m doing. I did a core session yesterday but the ground was a bit hard and I have bruises all over my back this morning – so I will have to try and find a nice flat patch of grass!
RT: Do you really do six gym/yoga sessions per week? Is this all core orientated work or does it involve a little bit of pure strength work too?
EB: I try and do a bit of core work every day, but I wouldn’t really consider that a gym session. When I’m in a training block I will do 2-3 one hour gym sessions per week,which focus on core, back and leg strength, and try and fit in one yoga class. On the other days it will be only 10-15 minutes of core which I usually do in the afternoon instead of an arvo run.
RT: I see you do repetitions three days a week and easy running on the other days. Do you ever do any longer tempo/threshold type work?
EB: Yeah definitely. My coach generally just tells me the session when I arrive at training, so I don’t get monthly programs given to me or anything. I prefer it that way, as I don’t have to think too much about whats coming! The program I gave Runner’s Tribe was pretty general, and was based more around building up my speed for 5000m. When I’m getting ready for 10,000m races we will do more longer threshold work, and often my long runs are done at a pretty decent pace if I’m running with the Canberra boys so that seems to keep my endurance base ticking over nicely.
RT: Does Nic Bideau have any involvement with your training plan or does Ted McLean have 100% responsibility?
EB: Ted has been my coach for 10 years now, and I think he knows me better than I know myself! Ted has 100% responsibility for my training plan, and Nic looks after the management side of things. Nic organized this trip to the US for me, and sorted out my entry into the races and flights, etc. Up here I am training with the other girls and Ted has just set me a general program which I try and modify to fit in with what the others are doing. Ted always prefers to leave some flexibility in the program and much prefers me to train with other people than do exactly what he says and train by myself.
RT: It is fair to say that your weekly training consists of far less mileage than most elite women distance runners. Is this because you and Ted McLean have figured that this is what works for you?
EB: My program is quite low mileage for a 5km/10km runner but a lot of the running I do is quality and I try and make up for the extra endurance in the bike or pool. I would much rather train consistently at a lower mileage than train for two months at a high mileage and then have to take time out to recover from an injury. Also, I am still quite young for a distance runner which I think some people can forget. I know that my best results won’t come until I am in my mid 20’s so at the moment it is all about building up gradually and staying injury free. Ted is very keen to build up my mileage, but he wants to do this very gradually and over a number of years.
RT: Your time in Sydney of 15:38.10 is only 8.10 seconds from the Olympic B qualifier and 18.10 seconds from the A qualifier. What races are you targeting in order to hopefully reach the standard?
EB: My first race will be a 5000m at Mt SAC in two weeks, and hopefully after this stint of altitude training I will be able to get close to the A. The next race is Stanford and I am down for the 10000m at the moment but that may change to a 5000m depending on how Mt SAC goes. If I’m just off the time I would definitely like to run another 5000m.
RT: You confident that you can do it?
EB: At the moment I am just training as hard as I can and trying not to think too much about it. I would be over the moon if I ran the time, and I definitely think it is possible, but it is going to take the race of my life. I am just hoping that everything goes right on the day and God-willing I can make it happen. At the same time I never thought I would be in this position a year ago, so at the moment I am just soaking up the experience and trying to learn as much as I can about racing and training at an elite level.
RT: What about the 10,000m? Are you going to chase some fast times in this too?
EB: I would like to try and improve my 10000m pb at Stanford, however the distance I race there will depend on how Mt SAC goes. Having only run one 10000m on the track before I don’t really know what I am capable of in a fast race, so we shall wait and see!
RT: What distance do you think you have the most potential in?
EB: At the moment I definitely prefer running 5000m, I found Zatopek 10000m pretty tough running most of the 25 laps solo in the rain. Most of my training has been geared towards 5000m lately, so I think that is where my best results will come this year.
RT: Will we see you step up to the marathon one day?
EB: I hope not! Haha, marathon training does not look very appealing to me at all, but I am sure one day I will end up there. I think every distance runner has to run at least one marathon in their career. Who knows, by then I might be crazy enough to enjoy it!
RT: Em, all the best, hope to see you toe that line come London.
EB: Thanks Runners Tribe 🙂