I've run with Emily at VFAC in Vancouver and was super impressed to learn this summer that she represents Canada at the World Mountain Running Champs, so I figured we could all maybe learn a thing or two about running from Emily. Hopefully the insights below will help us learn a thing or two...
Have you always been a runner and when did you get the bug? When did you get into trail running if you road ran before?
I started running in my 4th year of university at with the varsity team at McMaster in Hamilton, Ontario in 2001. After university I ran for one season with the Norwesters club in Vancouver. But I really got the trail running bug when I lived in New Zealand from January 2003 –December 2005. The hill running races in Dunedin and Wellington converted me for life. Seeing the World Mountain Running Trophy as a spectator in Wellington, New Zealand in 2005 made me realise that participating in that race for Team Canada was my lifelong running goal.
A lot of runners are pure trail runners but I think, like me, you still sometimes road race. What do you still like about road racing compared to the trails?
I like that you have a standard time that you can compare yourself to from previous races of the same distance to get a sense of your improvement with training. I think I will like that aspect until I stop improving my times!!! Also, it’s easier to train for those common distances with a running group (such as Vancouver Falcons, my running club) and I enjoy the (motivational and social) group aspect of training a lot.
You have represented Canada at least twice at the World Mountain Running Championships and you are planning to qualify to do so again this year. What has been the best worldwide mountain location you have run in?
So hard to decide!!!!!!! The races in Sierre, Switzerland and Madesimo, Italy were stunning and exotic for me, with intense competition and the thrill of international travel. Running in Canmore, Alberta is amazing with all the selection of high altitude routes in the mountains. However, my favourite training runs were in the hills around Dunedin, New Zealand where you can sometimes run for 2 or 3 hours and not see another person (you might also see everyone you know in the local running community on any given Sunday).
And you also run lots of local races throughout the year in BC, particularly the 5 Peaks series which are great races for all abilities of trail runners. What BC race would you most recommend to first time trail racers?
I do like the 5 Peaks Lower mainland trail running series and I think the Whistler race is my favourite of that series, in August. However I have to say the Gutbuster Trail running series on Vancouver Island is my favourite series with the Nanaimo Westwood Lake half marathon being my favourite BC trail race. I still have a lot more to try out though (including the Tumbler Ridge August long weekend trail run). A good first trail run would be the Tender Knee or My First Trail Run in the Run the North Shore series in North Vancouver.
You tend to run shorter (well non-ultra distances at least) but some of us are already dropping hints that you’ll get the ultra bug! Is that something you would like to do one day?
I knew there would be a short joke in there somewhere. (I was thinking height and not distance). For sure I would like to run an ultra one day. I would like to try doing support crew for one of the mountainous ultras (my friend Tamsin Anstey is planning to do one or two of those this year) to get an idea of what it’s like before actually racing. I don’t know if that would be a deterrent or a motivator to actually race an ultra!
I also hear that you’re a physio (do friends get free treatments?!), surely this must help you stay injury free?
You would think so!!! I think I’m getting better at recognizing initial stages of running overuse injury and working to prevent any further aggravation of “niggles” of pain. I am trying to really listen to my body with training and make very gradual adjustments with distance, intensity and repetitions. I have a great coach who trains moderate to elite level female runners and he is very realistic with training and recovery periods-I think this is key. Another constant modification is footwear and I try to be really vigilant with replacing my shoes. So yeah, the physio aspect does factor a lot into my training.
You’re competing in some of the Yeti snowshoe race series this winter. What other sports do you do?
Some of the other runners in the club (VFAC) and I have a goal to try at least one class at every yoga studio in Vancouver this year-we’ll see how far we get! (I don’t even know how many studios there are, this might not even be possible). My husband and I play ultimate Frisbee and practise capoeira (Brazilian martial art) occasionally and hopefully more often this year. Other than that, hiking, swimming and maybe a triathlon or two. Any other suggestions?