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Triple threat: Train like a world-class triathlete for the new London T100

T100 Miami 2024, Pro Womens race on the 9th March 2024 at the Miami Homestead Speedway
T100 Miami 2024, Pro Womens race on the 9th March 2024 at the Miami Homestead Speedway
Inside the mind of one of the world’s top-ranking triathletes, Emma Pallant-Browne, ahead of the Professional Triathletes Organisation’s new London T100 Triathlon.

Conquering a triathlon at the highest level takes strength and determination. Which is why it may not come as too much of a surprise that British star Emma Pallant-Browne, 34, who was born in Surrey but now lives in Johannesburg, has reached her success, by enduring broken bones and mid-race collapses along the way.

Now training ahead of the London T100 event (27 to 28 July), the PTO World #9 reflects on the determination needed to reach the top of her game.

Starting out

Before she turned 30 in 2019, Emma had already put together a hugely impressive sporting CV: from a European U23 cross-country champion title, a world-class middle-distance runner, world titles in aquathlon and duathlon, runner-up at the 70.3 World Championship, and a stack of 70.3 wins.
All the more noteworthy was her running career, which was all but ended by knee problems.

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Emma had just missed out on selection for the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and was focused on making the Team GB squad for London 2012.

But she pulled up injured in the 5,000m Olympic trials, her latest setback after knee surgery. That low though would turn out to be the start of her triathlon journey.

“I was a runner and then I got injured after trying to make the 2012 Olympics and having dropped out of the trials. I had done so much bike and swim training to keep fit, my mentor, Olympic runner, Kelly Holmes suggested I raced for her charity in the London Triathlon,” Emma says.

“From then I was hooked. I loved the new challenge and how much it helped me to get a strong body again and get back fit and healthy.”

At this point, she had never even ridden a road bike but was helped to get up to speed by coach and Olympic triathlete Michelle Dillon, who has been a huge influence ever since.

Emma still only had a few weeks of training behind her when, on the day itself, her running background was noticed, and she was bumped up into the elite field to race alongside the likes of triathlon G.O.A.T. Daniela Ryf. Ryf duly won, but more surprising was Pallant’s sixth place.

Dillon persuaded her to give the sport a go. By now, her injury issues had all but disappeared, and it wasn’t long before she gave up her job, turned professional, and moved to London to train full-time.

On a high

Reflecting on her career highlights, Emma shares: “I think winning World Junior Bronze 1,500m track and field was one of my proudest moments because my best friend won and we had done all the training together.

“To do that lap of honour with your best friend on the world stage and stand on the podium hearing the national anthem with our coach and all our family there is something I will never forget.”

Another standout moment was her performance at the 70.3 World Championships: “Coming second at World 70.3 Champs stands out because it was my first one, and I wasn’t really tipped as one of the favourites or to be on the podium.”

The start was a mix of emotions as she looked on course for victory at 70.3 Brazil, but after pushing to the limit: “I passed out on the run with 1km to go and a five-minute lead.”

Despite that setback, the wins and podiums soon started to come. In 2016 Pallant-Browne defended her World Duathlon crown and won another six shorter-distance events in what was a stellar season.

Then 2017 saw her step up again with her best display to date, a second place behind Ryf at the 70.3 World Championship in Chattanooga. She also collected gold at the Penticton ITU Aquathlon World Championships.

Emma again logged a range of wins in 2018, including 70.3 events at Barcelona, Dun Laoghaire, and Staffordshire. She also notched a first finish and podium in a full Ironman event with a third place in Austria.
That Austria result qualified her for Kona, and though the heat got the better of her in Hawaii, it only made her even hungrier for success there.

Now she is also taking time to share her love of running with others. Asked what she’s most proud of, she says: “Starting a run club at an orphanage in Johannesburg. I’m really excited to grow it and to change as many young lives as possible through the power of sport.”

Powering through

Injuries have been part of her journey to success. “I had knee surgery back when I was 17, which was what brought me to triathlon.

“Then in triathlon, I have had quite a few bike spills, and two of them resulted in a broken clavicle. The hardest thing was regaining confidence on the bike and to cycle fast again without fear,” she explains.

Emma emphasises the importance of her support network in staying mentally focused and motivated: “I am so lucky to have an amazing support team with my family, coach, friends, and sponsors who get to know you as a person and care about you as a person, not just an athlete. They are there for the highs and the lows.”

Mental resilience

Despite her impressive record, there have been times when Emma doubted her success was possible.

“When I started triathlon, I came from the front of run races to the back of short course triathlon. I often swam at the back so ran into transition with only my bike left there (at least it was easy to find), and I definitely think I questioned whether I could ever make the improvements on my swim that would be needed to get the achievement that I had in running in a triathlon.”

Looking ahead, Emma is focused on the new T100 Triathlon World Tour, which includes the upcoming London T100.

“The T100 Triathlon World Tour has been my main focus this season and I need to get some points on the board,” she says. “‘But as well as the pro races, the great thing about the T100 series is there are also different level amateur events to get everyone involved.”

Routine and nutrition

For Emma, nutrition is key, especially in the lead-up to races. “It’s race week this week so currently in my fridge I have eggs, bread, chocolate milk, turkey, some cold pizza, and leftover chicken and rice,” she shares.

Emma with her dogs and partner
Emma with her dogs and partner

On training and race days, her kit bag essentials include: “A Precision Fuel and Hydration gel and a packet of chews, a protein bar, chocolate milk, and some salty crackers.”

While she doesn’t count calories, she emphasises the importance of hydration and balanced nutrition. “I don’t really count my calories in a race week, I make sure I am well hydrated and then eat to feel on how hungry I am. I cut out fibre 48 hours before and make sure I have a lot of simple carbohydrates and good protein at night so I don’t get hungry at night.

“I drink a lot of calories in my training with a Precision Fuel carb drink, and that helps me keep on top of getting enough in when training hard.”

On race day, she follows a specific routine: “I try to get on board around 90g of carb during the race and use energy gels and carb drinks to do this.

“Then the morning of, I normally have jam on toast (four slices), a coffee, and then take a 750ml of carb drink from waking up to the start of the race with 60g carb in.

“Then after the race, it’s a protein shake, normally an ice cream too, and then we have a treat lunch/dinner which is normally a lot of protein and salt because I really crave that at the end of a hard race day.”

Words of advice

For those taking on a triathlon or similar endurance challenge, Emma advises: “Train smart. A lot of people think that training more will get you better, but it’s all about training in the right zones, getting the right recovery, and working it around your life to have a good balance.

“Often, an experienced coach can save you a lot of money in the long term because you aren’t spending it on mistakes, wrong equipment and physio when injured.”

Emma’s journey from a promising runner sidelined by injury to a top-tier triathlete is a testament to her resilience and determination. As she gears up for the London T100 event, her story continues to inspire and motivate others in the world of endurance sports.

Outside of triathlon, Emma likes to wind down with her partner and dogs. “I have two gorgeous Staffies: a boy called Gotcha and a girl called Dolce,” she smiles.

Emma is one of the 20 top female athletes on the new 8-leg T100 Triathlon World Tour. Her next T100 race is the San Francisco T100 on Saturday, 8 June, before she competes in the London T100.

The London T100 takes place at the Excel Centre, Royal Victoria Dock from Saturday, 27 July to Sunday, 28 July. Sign up at t100triathlon.com