Watching Emma Pallant-Browne unleash some serious speed on the final leg of the 2022 Ironman 70.3 Championship was a masterclass in race pacing. It was all the more impressive knowing that the 33-year-old’s early track career was cut short by recurrent knee injury… a problem which led her to triathlon.
And thank the multisporting gods that it did, as Pallant-Browne is now one of the world’s top half-iron-distance athletes, racking up dozens of wins since she made the move to the middle in 2016.
In 2022 alone she’s managed to bag six of them, as well as taking bronze at the 70.3 Worlds in St George, Utah, at the end of October. Here, she tells 220 how she’s planning to win more…
Pallant-Browne on her 70.3 Worlds’ performance
220: Congrats on the podium in St George. How are you feeling after that incredible race?
Emma Pallant-Browne: Thanks! I’m feeling good. It was a really weird race because normally I’m not up there on a swim and we’ve really worked my, well, we’ve worked everything hard in the last couple of months.
I race a lot, so to do two months just staying in the same place and committing everything into one race, I felt a bit of pressure. But it was such a weird day because it was freezing cold.
I had probably one of my best swims ever and then getting on the bike, I just absolutely froze and I had a terrible, terrible bike. I got off with a lot of work to do, but I think I was more relieved just to be getting warm.
Pallant-Browne on training
220: When it comes to training, do you focus more on maximising your strength (the run) or working on your weakness (the swim)?
EP-B: I’ve worked on my swim. I’d say we’re pretty balanced between all three in terms of training focus. I’m more than happy to bike on my own and run on my own, but we’ve developed a swim squad around my training with some fast swim guys. That’s kind of the key thing for my key swims.
Pallant-Browne on her 2022 season
220: You’ve had an incredible year. What would you put that success down to?
EP-B: We really focused on nutrition and also doing blocks of races and blocks of training. So we sorted out the nutrition side of things and then I did a big block before going to Europe and doing some races there.
Then I did a big block of races and towards the last couple I just didn’t feel as great as at the start, so then we blocked out the two months leading into this world champs.
I think starting to feel and read my body, know my limitations and listening to when I’m starting to get tired is key.
I was finding that my recovery’s been really good, and I’ve been super lucky with no injuries, no illnesses, and just following what [coach] Tim [Don] says, trusting that he has a programme and that he knows what he’s doing.
Pallant-Browne on making the move up the long course
220: You’ve dabbled with long-course in the past. Can you see yourself making a move to that distance?
EP-B: Yeah, I definitely never say never. At the moment, I do like to race a lot and I do feel I’ve got more to give in the 70.3. I don’t feel like I’m necessarily one of those athletes where the Ironman strengthens my 70.3.
I wouldn’t be against stepping up, I just feel like rather than me trying to slot it into a busy 70.3 season, I’d rather do it properly and really commit to the nutrition plan and the training needed for it.
Pallant-Browne on her 2023 goals
220: What do your plans look like for 2023?
EP-B: As of Christmas, I start building for next year. I definitely want to start my season at least in March. I love the road races here in South Africa, so I’ll do some half marathons.
We know the [70.3] Worlds will be in August. The PTO haven’t announced their races yet so I’m gonna wait to commit to the big ones.
I would like to do the Europeans and Challenge Championship again, because they were strong fields. I think I’d like to do a few warm-up races in Europe going into that.
Pallant-Browne on her rivals’ strengths
220: If you could take elements of other pro triathlete’s strengths, what and who would you borrow from and why?
EP-B: I think I would take Lucy’s [Charles-Barclay] swim, just because she dominates it every single time. I haven’t seen her not lead out of the water, she’s very consistent, super-duper strong, and I’d love to just run into that transition not feeling gassed for once.
I think I’d take Paula Findley’s bike. I’ve seen her ride away from fields, especially at PTO Canada. I think her ride there was like incredible. So yeah, I think I’d take her riding!
Top image credit: Patrick McDermott/Getty Images for Ironman