Welcoming Fast Talk’s Great Brit—with Emma-Kate Lidbury

The former pro triathlete and managing editor of Triathlete joins the podcast and talks with us about what brought her to Fast Talk Labs.

Emma-Kate Lidbury running on the beach in a swimsuit as part of the Tower 26 triathlon training program
Photo: Mariel Calloway

She swims, she rides a bike and she runs. She’s been top 10 at Ironman 70.3 Worlds, she’s edited magazines, and written books—and now she’s on the Fast Talk Labs team! Emma-Kate Lidbury, our new content strategist, joins us on this week’s podcast to talk about her journey into endurance sports, including being an Olympic hopeful swimmer and doing her first triathlon as a journalist—which ultimately led her to a 10-year career as a pro triathlete that included six 70.3 titles.

Originally from the U.K., EK studied English and Sports Science at Loughborough University and has a postgraduate diploma in newspaper journalism from Cardiff University. She began her journalism career on daily newspapers in the U.K., which included covering high profile cases as a court reporter as well as spending time in Basra, Iraq, during the second Gulf War. It was during her time as a newspaper journalist that she first discovered triathlon, getting thrown into the inaugural Blenheim Triathlon in Oxford, England, and being asked to write about it. It worked out well, EK got “bitten by the tri bug”—and three years later she quit her job in the newsroom to become a professional triathlete.

EK never strayed too far from journalism, though, and took to freelance work within endurance sports while training and racing. She moved to the U.S. in 2013, while working with coaches Matt Dixon at Purple Patch Fitness and Gerry Rodrigues at Tower 26. During her 10-year pro racing career EK won six 70.3 titles (Mallorca twice, UK, Augusta, Texas, and Kansas) and finished in the top 10 at 70.3 Worlds in 2010 and 2011.

Upon retiring in 2018, EK returned to working with Rodrigues, co-authoring his book Triathlon Swimming. This led to her role as managing editor for Triathlete, where she worked for three years before joining Fast Talk Labs in summer 2022.

On this week’s show we talk about her wealth of experience—and how she plans to ensure our readers and listeners get even more diverse content from us. And although EK has now retired, she has since discovered the joys of ultra-running, competing in the Grand Traverse (2020) and Leadville 100 (2021), so, like many of our listeners, she aims to balance work with working out. So, get ready for Trevor and EK to share a little British Commonwealth love, and let’s make you fast!

Episode Transcript

Rob Pickels  00:04

Hello, and welcome to Fast talk your source for the science of endurance performance. I’m your host Rob Pickels here with Coach Connor and Emma-Kate Lidbury. She swims, she rides a bike, and she runs, she’s been top 10 at Worlds. She’s edited magazines and written books. Now she’s on the Fast Talk Labs Team, Emma-Kate Lidbury our new content strategist is on the podcast to share her background including growing up in the UK, being an Olympic hopeful swimmer and during her first triathlon as a journalist reporting on the event. Today, we talk with her about her wealth of experience and how she’s going to ensure our readers and listeners get even more diverse content from us. We’re excited to have her onboard. So get ready for Trevor and EK to share a little British Commonwealth love, and let’s make you fast.

Trevor Connor  00:56

For both beginners and veterans polarized training is the best way to get and stay fast year after year. And this is the perfect time of year to be thinking about how polarized training can help you in our new guide featuring Dr. Steven Siler explore fascinating and helpful topics like how polarized training is different from sweetspot, how to bust out to performance plateaus, how to polarize all season, how to build durability, and how to time your high intensity work. With the complete guide from Bastok labs, you’ll have everything you need to polarize your training like a pro and unlock your elite. Learn more fast talk labs.com. Well, I don’t know if we should be calling you a guest or calling you a host or what but Emma Kate, welcome to the show. I know we had you a few weeks ago, but this is our official. Welcome to the team. Welcome to the show. You are part of the team. How does it feel?

EK  01:48

Thank you. Thanks for the welcome. Is this my initiation? Do I get my eyebrows at the end of this?

Rob Pickels  01:53

You do in fact, and I think you’re actually the backbone. I don’t She’s not a guest. She’s like the backbone of labs at this point. But I think we’re going to talk about that more as we get into it.

Trevor Connor  02:03

I know she’s ready to go because it’s 1030. And she’s on her third cup of coffee. Yeah, watch out. Sorry about that.

Rob Pickels  02:10

I’m usually the coffee fanatic, but it’s just just one. I don’t even know if I’d call it a latte this morning. I was in a rush.

EK  02:16

Well, that’s my third black coffee in the morning. So watch out.

Trevor Connor  02:19

I am on my first pot of tea, which means I’m gonna have to pee at some point during this episode.

Rob Pickels  02:24

Is that just because T and P rhyme with each other? Because it

Trevor Connor  02:27

goes right through my system. It is amazing how fast the

EK  02:30

other eight stations in the show

Rob Pickels  02:31

are their aid stations. So if anybody was wondering, ek is a triathlete and is used to stuff like that where you know a cyclist we just keep all our aid on our bike and I guess we just Whiz on our bike, too.

EK  02:48

Yeah, what happens in Ironman as well? Now people pee themselves on the bike.

Rob Pickels  02:51

Can’t stop won’t stop. Trevor, what are we talking about? today?

Trevor Connor  02:55

We are talking about ek Oh boy. So we’re introducing our listeners. So I hope you’re ready. I think so. What did we tell her we’re going to talk about today?

Rob Pickels  03:06

I think we told her we were talking about like training science or something

EK  03:09

awesome. My favorite? Yeah, well, we

Trevor Connor  03:11

never talked about that.

Rob Pickels  03:14

But it’s really about her and we have this beautiful background that starts with her childhood.

EK  03:19

Oh no. Is it like once upon a time you need 5000 miles away

Rob Pickels  03:25

5000 Miles

Trevor Connor  03:26

yeah we go all Commonwealth on Rob here.

EK  03:30

We should be playing the national anthem. I was gonna say God Save the Queen but surely God Save The King Of course now

Trevor Connor  03:36

you gotta get or you have a hard time getting used to therefore there Yeah, yeah, I’m wait until I go home at Christmas and see if they’ve changed the coins. Yeah, stamps and

EK  03:45

the coins? Yeah, it’s gonna be

Rob Pickels  03:47

weird. Does all that stuff get changed? Of course. Oh, really? What happens at all the coins that are like in circulation? Hey, get taken back.

EK  03:53


Trevor Connor  03:54

you can actually Canada’s somewhat tell how old the coins are by the age of the Queen on it because even as she was getting older, they changed around the coins. This sounds

Rob Pickels  04:03

like a waste of money. Literally a waste of money. But okay, so what you grew up in the E in the UK? I was gonna say you grew up in the UK. From the AAA. What is ek for everybody who’s listening is Emma Kate.

EK  04:17

Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, I mean, it started with two indecisive parent I know two stubborn parents who wouldn’t neither would compromise my I think it was my dad who wanted me to be called Kate and my mum wanted me to be called Emma or something so and they wouldn’t neither one of them went back down. So there’s a hyphen in between and I’ve always been ek I’ve never been Mr.

Rob Pickels  04:32

Z if you had to choose, would you choose the M or the K? No, I’ve

EK  04:37

just been we’ve been e k. And that actually started with a swim coach when I was young, who wouldn’t call me Emma Kate. He would only call me ek so then I was spinning case since I was about eight or nine.

Rob Pickels  04:47

Very nice. So we started swimming. That’s That’s what kicked off your athletic career. It

EK  04:51

was a sport. Yeah, I just wanna and so got used to doing the crazy like 5am swim practice before school, and all the structure and dedication and coming I mean, that comes with anybody who’s had any level of involvement in competitive swimming knows that it’s one of those sports where it requires a very much an all in approach. And even from a young age, I was at swim practice at 5am. With very strict coaches, it’s pretty

Rob Pickels  05:14

incredible how regimented every aspect of swimming is. I feel like from how the workouts are structured, the times that you’re swimming. Yeah, it’s incredible.

EK  05:23

Yeah, and very much especially in the 90s. So that was in the 90s. And that was very much that time when he was high volume was everything he said, we were swimming a lot. And I you know, little did I know at the time that I was sort of building this little ek was building this huge aerobic engine aerobic endurance engine that would obviously help power me to lots of Ironman Half Ironman success later in life. But you know, building this huge engine from from the time I was a little, little kid,

Rob Pickels  05:50

so I wanted to stay with you when you’re swimming here. Was it that structure about swimming? Is that why you fell in love maybe with that sport first? Or did that just happen to be the sport that you got into when you were younger?

EK  06:02

I think that just happened to be a sport I got into when I was younger. I mean, I played a lot of sports, I grew up in a very athletic family. So we’re always there was always something going on. But competitive swimming was the sport that set me on fire. That’s the sport that I was really like, into and passionate about. And I specialized in the 1500 sometimes 200 freestyle, so it was all very short. It was Yeah, that’s a little different than what you ended up in 27 seconds. Free. So

Rob Pickels  06:25

yeah, going my speed at that point. I mean, you were probably going faster than I would have gotten, let’s be honest. But But yeah,

EK  06:31

it’s funny, because then when I did get into triathlon later in my 20s, like the thought of having to swim 750 meters or 1500 meters was like, Whoa, that’s a long way.

Trevor Connor  06:43

So I love in the notes that you gave us, you said, always love the structure and commitment of swimming, and then your next line has burned out at 18.

EK  06:51

Well, that’s very, I think that’s kind of typical of that era of swimming training. You know, like I said, high volume, high high volume. But yeah, the classic kind of got to college age 18 deliberately specifically got into Loughborough University, which at the time produced 50%, of the Great Britain Olympic swim team, and deliberately went there in order to swim I got there and then discovered bear and the student newspaper and all those things, like, here we go. And I didn’t last much longer than the first semester on the swim team. So interesting, which, and rightly so because they were, you know, there were swimmers of exceptionally high caliber, and you had to be all in as any elite athlete has to be, yeah, in order to be there and to earn your spot. And I was not that girl anymore.

Rob Pickels  07:35

It sounds like the burnout that you were facing coming into this was more on the emotional the mental level than the physical level of training. But

EK  07:42

yeah, but definitely just that also kind of rite of passage of going moving away from home and going to college and being like, oh, I can do whatever I want. I don’t set my alarm for 445 anymore. So So you

Rob Pickels  07:52

lost this sort of sporting thread for a little bit of time you discover some other loves. Yeah. How did you end up back in the sporting and the endurance and the competitive world what change occurred that allowed you to get back into it?

EK  08:05

Well, I always had an interest in journalism. From the time I was, again, from the time I was a little girl, I always loved reading newspapers used to sort of stand over my dad as he was sitting in the kitchen reading, he would be poring over all the newspapers every every morning, and I would just be looking over his shoulder been reading stories. So that’s where my love for news and journalism started. And like I said, when I was an undergrad, I got involved in the student newspaper, and then went on to grad school and trained to be a journalist. And it was on the second newsroom I worked in, in Oxford, England, where the editor in chief knew that I had a competitive swimming background as a kid. And it was also around the time where triathlon was starting to take off this was 2004 2005 in the UK. And they were looking for a journalist to take part in like to do like a first person assignment training and take part in the triathlon they were there was a big triathlon taking place that was actually been launched by the same guys that started the London triathlon, which was a huge, huge, huge, huge race. So basically, they were looking for a journalist to be like this first person will throw you in, you can be a face in the race. And based on this status of most of the journalists in the newsroom I was working on, I was pretty much the only one that was going to survive

Rob Pickels  09:17

it, but love it without being too much of a liability to the to the company

EK  09:21

there. So that’s how so yeah, so age 18, you know, arrived at college and didn’t really do a whole lot of sport. Even though I’d grown up my entire life with the structure of sport, then kind of until the age of 25 didn’t do a whole lot of anything much until I didn’t get thrown into this race as a newspaper journalist.

Trevor Connor  09:38

So how did that first race go for you? Oh, my God, I’m assuming you are not coached or any way I

EK  09:44

wasn’t coached. And what’s really funny is, I mean, this is long before I knew anything about training peaks, obviously. So I used to write down my training in my journal, and I used to do about about six hours a week in preparation for this first race. So that first race actually was like terrifying. It was equal parts terrifying, an entirely exhilarating. And I mean crossing the finish line of that race. I just got the triberg in a major, major way. Like I was like holy like this is it’s kind of like a renaissance you know, if you like, you know, this little girl who had always known competitive sport and structure and training and commitment and discipline and all these things, all of that was reawakened in me. And at the same time, I just achieved something that I wasn’t actually sure I’d be able to do. You know, because I knew I was a good swimmer, I’d never really ridden a bike much before. Apart from I did have a little BMX when I was a kid. And I mean, I could run to catch a bus, but that was about it. Yeah, so. So there I am at this triathlon. And I crossed the line, and it’s my very first one, and I just love it. And there’s so many things happening on so many levels. And it just kind of captured me, I guess.

Rob Pickels  10:52

Yeah, you know, it’s interesting, you mentioned something in here and it was achievement, and that was really big for you in this triathlon. And I feel as though for some reason, and I don’t know that I quite understand it because triathlon has never been my major, you know, sport, I have done a few, but achievement seems to be a really big motivator for why people get into triathlon. Yeah, everybody has different goals or purpose with why they’re racing or engaging with things. But triathlon more so than bike racing achievement really seems to be a big driver for people, which I think is interesting, because do you think that that fueled kind of a very rapid rise in triathlon, it grew really quickly from the time that you’re talking about the beginning of triathlon here? Yeah,

EK  11:37

definitely. And I think I think there’s something in there that, regardless of the level you’re competing at, whether it’s your first one or your 50th, there’s always scope for improvement. And we all come into it with most everybody who does a triathlon comes into it with a weakness and a strength. And so there’s always I think that’s kind of what makes it a little bit addictive, or, you know, people talk about getting the triberg. And I think that’s because you can see the potential for improvement in a certain one or two, or maybe all three sports. And so then it’s like, you’re hooked, you just want to keep getting better, you want to keep seeing how much more time you can take off or how far you can get. And so I think that’s what drives that kind of achievement angle. And it’s very personal. It’s, you know, you don’t really even need to be competing against anybody else. Again, you’re competing against yourself. So I think that’s what a lot of people really love about it. And why a lot of people, you know, catch the triberg, as they say,

Trevor Connor  12:32

so what happened after this race? It sounds like you they sent you to an event that kind of made them lose a journalist,

EK  12:38

ultimately, yes, because three years later, I walked into my editor in Chief’s office and gave him my resignation letter. And he was like, Whoa, what’s, what’s going on? But yeah, to answer your question, I, yeah, just I fell in love with the sport. And I was very fortunate. I think sometimes it’s good fortune. There’s an element of luck in a lot of people’s journeys. I was living in Oxford, and I had a bunch of roommates who were all very athletic, one or two of them were had done a lot of triathlon, I got introduced to the coach and a few people at Oxford try Club, which was this really warm and welcoming team. And I just started going along to their swim workouts, and I started to go onto some of their runs. And that’s one of the things I also just loved about triathlon was how inclusive and welcoming it was, and everybody wanting to share their knowledge, which is something you know, to this day is something that I still really enjoy about triathlon and one big reasons why I love producing content is you continue to help share your knowledge and help other people improve. So yeah, I kind of got into Oxford tri club, made some great friends there, and then just went along to their first training camp, that winter, took two weeks off work from the newsroom, went to this training camp, and just did really funny stuff. Like I had to learn to clip into pedals on the bike and just very sharp, sharp learning curve, but also huge rise in fitness, obviously, at that stage when you’re going from training six hours a week to then doing like 10 or 12. And it’s more structured and you’ve got people who are writing workouts for you or you’re jumping into other people’s workouts like, obviously, the rise is pretty quick, quick, sharp rise in fitness and improvements you’re seeing all the time.

Rob Pickels  14:15

So yeah, we know that you eventually turned pro we know that that’s where this story is going. What I’m interested in, though, is, at this point in time, you’ve done your first triathlon, you might not be a triathlete yet, but you’ve at least triathlon. How quickly was your development as an athlete, we know that you have the ability to go pro to be one of the absolute best in the world. Did you though have a steady rise in fitness where you kind of climbed up through the rankings or, you know, once you started training seriously, were you automatically winning local races and you had this very, very like? Obviously, like ek was going to be a pro triathlete from day one.

EK  14:54

Well, it’s funny as you just started talking, and I was like, oh, yeah, I remember I got plantar fasciitis in both feet. I didn’t freeze my training. Yeah, as a swimmer, you know, like going and running and increase my run volume a lot like yeah, just got injured in that first couple years quite a bit. But yeah, the rise was like the the improvement was was sharp very fast and I was hanging out with Yeah, just got kind of got in with this group of guys who I think between them they used to go and race Ironman all over the, they probably raise three or four or five Iron Man’s each of them around the world every every season. And I just used to go and train with them. And I learned how to ride a bike based on just sitting at the back of the pack. And when they drank, I drank when they change gate, I change gear. When they lean the bike, I lean the bike, and we did these, you know, big training camps in places like lands ROTC, which are notoriously windy and hilly and hot. So you just learned a lot. And just like a sponge I used to like, watch them and copy. Yeah, because cycling was the sport that I was the newest to. But the fitness, I guess I realized there was already an athlete in there, right who as a young girl, I’d spent hours and hours and hours in the pool. So it was an athlete in there. It was just like a case of waking her up and bringing her back around and learning some skills.

Trevor Connor  16:07

No, do you feel some of that fitness developed as a kid carried over?

EK  16:11

I think so. Yeah, definitely. I don’t think you can spend that long in the pool. You know, I definitely built an engine, cardiovascular engine that paid dividends later in my 20s and 30s. For sure.

Rob Pickels  16:21

I think that foundation with the highly structured swim training also could have taught you how to train taught you how to be committed. Yep.

EK  16:29

And the psychological side of it to you know, I was very fortunate to have some really good coaches as a swimmer who talked a lot about focus and discipline and commitment and motivation and all those things that you needed in order to succeed, some of which are obviously just inherent in, in competitive people and but other ones have to be learned and nurtured. So, yes, it

Trevor Connor  16:49

sounds like you’ve always been very driven. And you’ll love the competition. You’ll you’ll love the the self improvement. And it sounds like you had that in swimming. Yeah. And then when you discovered triathlon it brought back

EK  17:00

Yeah, it definitely did. And I think I’d had that hiatus in between ages of 18 and 25, where I’d got all of my partying done and all of it well, most of it. So I was age 25, I was ready to like dive back into this into that structure that I’d known almost all my life. And that’s definitely what success in triathlon demanded. You know,

Rob Pickels  17:22

I definitely think this is a case against early specialization in sport. You know, that’s something that’s a topic that’s talked about a lot. Yeah, you were able to achieve this success without training steadily from the time that you were just a wee little one.

Trevor Connor  17:37

So you race professionally for 10 years? What would you say were some of the highlights of your career?

EK  17:42

I think 2011 through 2013 14 was when I really started seeing big success racing Half Ironman distance 7.3, which refers to the number of total number of miles you cover across swim, bike and run. And I think it was the 2011 season where I won 70.3 New Yorker 72.3 Augusto in Georgia, Sim 2.3. UK. And so just I think what a lot of people forget is when you go from amateur to professional for most people, the changes don’t happen overnight. Right? There is a there is a chasm, there is a gulf between what amateurs do and what successful professionals do. And so I think naively, it’s very easy for people to think that they’ll give up work, quote, unquote, work, and they’ll suddenly become professional, successful professional triathletes, I think, in that gap between sort of 2009 2010 until 2011 2012, I was learning how to be a professional athlete. And the extra time in my schedule from not being in the newsroom was being put into recovery or smarter training. But really, I think a highlight of that decade of professional racing for me was obviously the wins you know, I won six Ironman 70.3 titles to do well at the World Championships a few times, really loved stepping up to racing full Ironman, my first Ironman was in New Yorker, Spain, and finished second there, but also like the things that you learn the people that you create friendships and bonds with that will last a lifetime, they will ask well beyond the 10 years that I was racing, and all the experience and expertise and insight that you gain that you don’t realize you’re even gaining at the time, but it’s only since retiring and writing about triathlon and endurance sports you realize how much you know, and how good it is to share that with people.

Rob Pickels  19:21

Yeah, certainly. Okay, it sounds like you were traveling the world. Right? Yeah, you’re racing and all of these absolutely beautiful places. You’re from the UK, which as I listen to you and hear Oxford and everything else, I’m having these beautiful pictures and wishing I was there. But you ended up here in the US during your career. How did that happen?

EK  19:41

Yeah, so I had spent a lot of time here racing because really, from the point of view of long distance triathlon, North America is really kind of like the epicenter of triathlon racing. And I was still based in the UK and Oxford. And I started working with Matt Dixon and pebble patch, who was based in California, San Francisco, California. And obviously Pat When your coach be eight hours behind you is not ideal. And when you’re making day to day, hour to hour changes in things, and I was spending, you know, as a without having to have any kind of visa, you could spend 90 days in the US, you know, as a Brit, and I would come over, I would often come over and spend both three months in the summer racing on 70.3 circuit, and, you know, just bounce around the US and different races. And it was immediately obvious that if you want to get better sponsorship, if you wanted to just be, you know, if it doesn’t happen in North America, it doesn’t happen when it comes to long, long course, rasher. And so Matt, and I had a big conversation, I think we were we were, we were in Kona, watch, I was watching the race at the end of 2012. And he said to me, you know, I think it’d be really good if you could move to the US and you can move to California. And I was like, You mean, move, move? And he was like, Yeah, I mean, move, move. And so at the time, you know, I had a long term boyfriend, we had a house together, we had a cat together, I was very close to my family had a very tight, still very embedded in Oxford tri club all these years. So you know, I was an athlete with a community around me and a support network. So the thought of moving to California was like, kind of exciting, but also kind of terrifying. But also a big lesson, you know, a lesson that I learned from that was like, Take chances when they’re right, make opportunities work for you, when they’re the right ones. Jump, you know, sometimes you have to jump and not figure out how you’re going to land until you’re flying. And you find out who the best people are for you and your team. You know who your teammates are, if you like, after you’ve taken off. So, January 2013, I’m sat on the runway at London Heathrow and I’m on a flight to La on Yeah, we’re about to take off for flight to LAX and this and that’s me, I’m, I’m leaving the UK and I’m left that life behind, I guess and move to the States moved to LA. And really, it was like a career development move. I guess, you know, like it was a I want to win races here. I want I want to get pick up better sponsorship here in much the same way that anybody who is trying to advance in their career wherever they were, you know, whether you’re a banker, or a lawyer, or whatever you are, I think that’s

Rob Pickels  22:02

a really valid point, right? Because you’re facing this in it’s an athlete, every buddy out there right now is saying, Yeah, I had this point in my career to or you’re gonna face it if you haven’t had it yet. Yeah. It’s amazing how transferable that leap is across everybody. Yeah,

EK  22:17

yeah. So that’s what I did.

Trevor Connor  22:19

How long did it take you to make that choice? Was a very quick or did you really have to think about it for a while

EK  22:25

to make the decision to move to the States? I think it was one of those decisions that was kind of already made in for me, I already I already knew, like, the dream was so alive for me. Like I really wanted to try and be the best athlete I could be. So the answer was there. But sometimes, you know, like, there’s some, there’s some resistance, it took me. So I’d say it probably took me like six or eight weeks, my younger sister reminds me that we had many long drawn out conversations about the pros and the cons. And when she hears me telling the story now of like, Oh, yeah. And then I decided I moved to Wheezy. She was like, Do you remember how many cups of tea that involve? So it was obviously like, it’s a big it was a big decision. Because I moved solo I you know, my boyfriend and I broke up and I think the cat? No, no, oh, the I left everything. The boyfriend? He did. Yeah. So it was a big decision. So I didn’t make it lightly. But ever since it’s always been, I guess it’s been like a guiding light in subsequent big decisions. I’ve always been like, hey, does this feel right? Yeah. Is this the right move for you. So

Trevor Connor  23:31

when I moved from upstate New York to go train at the National Center in British Columbia, so across the continent, I basically got the invite to come and train there and was told I had two weeks, so very rapidly made the decision didn’t really have time to work on that, because I had to figure out how to get out of my apartment, how to move all that. So it wasn’t until there that I finally had the oh my god, what I just do. Yeah. And had the process there. And in some ways that made it easier. If I’d had a lot of time to think about it, and how much it was going to up in my life. I think it would have been tough, but I was always asking him, it was a very quick thing and you process it when you got here. Or if you had that time to think about it.

EK  24:12

No, I definitely had time to think about it. But I think also there are some things that you just know, right, that you know that you want to go do. I knew that I didn’t want to be looking back on my life in years and years to come and be like, Oh, I could have I could have gone and been a professional triathlete in America. But I didn’t I stayed I stayed home. And it’s like, bummer. No, I don’t want it. I’d always rather go try something and go do it and go take the leap and see what happens then. Not

Rob Pickels  24:39

in your head that allure of California, right. Yeah, I

EK  24:43

mean, that was one of the big reasons why I was keen to I was ready to leave the UK I had done so many four hour bike rides in the rain cember there’s only so many miles you can do like that where you’re so wet and so cold and so miserable, right? So when I moved to California, especially ELA obviously in January, it’s like sunny and warm and 70 degrees and the Californians 5am swim practice the Californians are moaning because it’s like 55. And it’s like, wow. Yeah, you guys are soft.

Rob Pickels  25:13

This is funny. I’m picturing you like walking down the street with the Hollywood sign behind you. Just like living this amazing new American life and being it was super

EK  25:21

cool. I loved it. I stayed in I didn’t intend to stay in LA as long as I did, but I stayed there three, almost four years.

Rob Pickels  25:28

So did that bring you how deep into your triathlon career was that? Is that kind of where your triathlon career was ending? Or were you still in?

EK  25:35

That was 2013. Okay, so I yeah, I still racing for another five years.

Trevor Connor  25:39

So then you came to Colorado? Yeah,

EK  25:42

I Well, for the most part, I was in LA, I spent six months or so up in San Francisco when Matt was sort of building out the purple patch team there. And then back in LA, very good friend of mine, Rachel Joyce was a Britain of the British triathlete. She was based here at her and her partner base here. And she was like, hey, just come. I think it was in the build up to one of the World Championships. She was like, Hey, come see what boulders about Yeah, which I did. And then I was like, Wow, this place is on reel. And at that point, I was kind of getting tired. As much as I loved LA and California, I was also getting tired of traffic. And that craziness. And so I was staying with Rachel. And the very first weekend I was here. I can remember it used to take me like seven minutes to get from like her house to the pool or seven minutes to the grocery store. And I was like, whoa, okay, you’d have spent two hours in the car. And I can train with some of the best triathletes in the world. And it’s amazingly beautiful. And so, within the space of I think, like three days, I decided I was just gonna move to Boulder. There you go. I

Rob Pickels  26:45

really I think it was it was 63rd and 75th. You know, two popular training roads out there. I think that’s really what drew you in those two roads, or will make boulder special in my opinion.

EK  26:57

I mean, I missed the ocean, but the mountain I love being here. And it’s it’s always just felt like home. I’ve been that was 2016. So I’ve been here ever since

Rob Pickels  27:07

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Trevor Connor  27:36

Alright, so take us to now it sounds like you had a couple more years and you retired and you moved on the palms. Tell us about it.

EK  27:45

Yeah, I retired from racing in 2018. I’d always said that I would continue racing triathlon for as long as I was enjoying it, and I was healthy fit and well and, and making money. And so some of those things stopped happening a little bit. At the same time, the creative in me and the writer in me was really kind of yearning for an outlet that I hadn’t had when I’ve been racing. And I’d started to write again a little bit and it was at that time when I’d been in LA I’d been coached by Jerry Rodriguez from triathlon swim coach tower 26. Jerry had become a good friend and mentor, as you know, some coach athlete relationships develop that way. And Jerry and I had been really good friends. And he told me, Oh, I’m talking to Velo press about writing my book, I want to write a book on triathlon swimming. But he didn’t want to write it write it, he wanted to have a ghostwriter. And so, so I went along to valley press, and met the team there and ultimately got that job to write Jerry’s book. So that was really kind of how I segwayed back into, you know, I guess, yeah, quite a nice cycle there of like, stepping from journalism into racing into triathlon and racing, and then sort of stepping very fortunately, stepping away from racing and back into journalism media.

Rob Pickels  28:57

It’s quite serendipitous, in fact, how you literally were handed off in both directions, yeah, beginning in the end of your career. And also,

EK  29:03

I didn’t really appreciate at the time, and I definitely do now, seeing how some of my peers from those racing days have really struggled to find what they want to do next. And so I was thrown into this book project, and like, the writer in me was in very much the same way that if you don’t train, very often, very consistently, then you struggle as an athlete or you know, as we know, from physiology, you don’t use it, you lose it, because the same thing happens when you’re writing. And so those first few weeks sitting down at a kitchen table to like start scheduling how Jerry’s book was going to work, what our writing process was going to be like, and then, you know, turning in the first chapter to Velo prayer, so I was like, oh, boy, okay.

Rob Pickels  29:45

And was this your first book? I mean, it sounds like before you were more in the newspaper world. Yeah,

EK  29:49

I was very much here. Yeah. I’d always worked for daily newspapers. So it was had the deadline, you know, the late afternoon deadline that we always used to work to on daily on daily newspapers. So this was very different and you had like a lot of free rein, it was also very interesting from a coach athlete point of view, Jerry had always been the boss, right? This very larger than life charismatic coach who is, you know, so well respected by all of his athletes, and really just a very strong paternal figure. But here I was, for the very first time having to give Jerry the the rules and deadlines. And so that was really interesting. Yeah, so Jerry and I began working on the book project together. And that then ultimately led me to Triathlete Magazine because traffic was part of pocket outdoor media, then also part of the civilian press, and triathlete part of the same family. And when the book project was coming to an end, I was very much like, Oh, I really want to stay in this world. I asked fellow press, if there are any jobs going, which they weren’t, but they were like, ah, but triathletes looking for a managing editor. So I jumped over there, and worked there for three years and really discovered. Yeah, like I said earlier, you really discover how much you’ve learned and how much you know, and how much expertise you have, which as a pro athlete, you just take for granted, because you’re in that world, you’re embedded in it. And it was really only then, and also yet can turn to speak to the point I made earlier about triathlon, when I first got into triathlon, I was just blown away at how warm and welcoming and inclusive it was, and how everybody is wanting to teach you what they knew. And so as a content creator, as a journalist, as a writer, that’s always a big part of why I love doing what I do, because now I’m in a position as the person who showed up to try my first triathlon in 2005, and knew very little about the sport, there were a lot of people who kind of taught me a lot. And so now it’s kind of very serendipitous, if you’d like to be in a position to continue helping other people learn more about how to get the most from their sports, whether it’s triathlon, or swimming, running, cycling, whatever it might be. Yeah, and that’s just what I love doing and feel very fortunate to have been able to step into this world from the world I

Rob Pickels  31:53

was in. Well, I think that you’re right, in that you were fully immersed for a long time. And we know that that full immersion is hugely important for learning a new language or for you in the beginning of your career, learning how to ride a bike, right, you learned all of the things you need to do just by being immersed there. And yeah, I’m sure that or I know, I shouldn’t say I’m sure I know that there’s just this wealth of knowledge that you’ve been able to gain, you know, throughout the years. And so I mean, I love the fact that you’re here with us now and able to share that with people. And for me, it’s been interesting to watch how media has been changing. Yeah, and maybe how some traditional forms of media are struggling in this day and age. And, you know, coming over here into the fast talk side and doing things more digitally and online content and everything else. You know, I think that that’s really interesting. And we’re super fortunate to be able to have that.

Trevor Connor  32:45

So go back to your comment about making big decisions in life that go horribly wrong. joined us. Yeah, tell us about coming over to fast talk labs.

EK  32:56

I bumped into Rob pickles on Pearl Street one day,

Rob Pickels  32:59

I bought her coffee. sealed the deal right there. She just never went home. All their coffees expensive. So she knew how committed I was. Yeah,

EK  33:09

yeah. I was like coffee. There you go. boxcar. Oh, boxcar that was. I don’t remember our first day.

Rob Pickels  33:18

It’s okay. My wife doesn’t remember it either.

EK  33:23

Yeah, so I already knew about you guys. i How did I know about you? I think one of your newsletters landed in my inbox somehow, we think. And I was like, Oh, these what are these guys doing? I was impressed with the number of experts you had, who are contributing. I was like, Oh, these guys seem serious. Yeah, you piqued my interest. And that was probably early in 2022. I’d first noticed students just signed up for your newsletter, and then just kept getting spammed all

Rob Pickels  33:55


Trevor Connor  33:58

So that actually worked. Yeah.

Rob Pickels  34:00

And for everybody moving forward, who gets spammed by that newsletter? Ek is the one that writes. So it’s come full circle in pretty much all aspects of her life.

EK  34:10

Yeah, it’s fun, isn’t it? Yeah. So no, I guess I was interested in what you’re doing. I think the future of media I mean, as we know, like digital media is in a very interesting space right now. And the future of media, I think, is already niche and is going to become even more niche. And I could see that fast talk was definitely leaning into a niche. But yeah, just interested to see what you’re doing and what the future plans and direction were. And here I am. Well, then

Rob Pickels  34:37

I think that that’s something that’s very interesting about media in this day and age is fast talk is pretty niche, but at the same time, we’re able to pivot and we’re able to listen to our consumers. We’re able to change our content and we’ve been involving more triathlon Advocate has infected us just like we in fact Did her. And I think that that’s really powerful at this point in time. And in this building, we have such a wide range of individuals with individual experiences and expertise, and us being able to leverage that I think is really, really terrific.

EK  35:15

Yeah, you know, obviously, I could see the cycling influence in cycling, focus, fast talk, and you guys are already keen to expand that and expand horizons. And so sort of stepping into triathlon, but not just triathlon trail running Ultra running adventures, if you’d like, you know, there’s, there’s obviously, a large part of the fast audience who are key who is serious about their training, training, science, physiology, nutrition, recovery, etc, etc. They’re training to win or lose train into PR. But there’s also a lot of people out there who are just looking for their next adventure, and they want to be fit, and they want to enjoy it all. And they want to get the most from it. There’s also people who, you know, I think a lot of traffic. So this like, lifestyle oriented, you know, like your training is part and parcel of a overall healthy Well, life. And it might not be anything to do with beating your body or beating any competitors on race day. It’s about improving. You know, it’s like I said about that first triathlon of mine, you know, it’s about how do you get better? How do you improve your swim? How do you improve your bike? How do you improve your run? And so I think, you know, there’s, whether you are here to win, whether you’re here to just achieve, whether you’re here to explore, we were looking to create content that will help you do all those things. So

Trevor Connor  36:24

to put you on the spot a little bit, so I’m really interested, what are you most excited about? What do you see happening that you really want to put your stamp on?

EK  36:33

Oh, I don’t know. But at the moment, we’re focusing on improving the website and building out that, and increasing the membership, you know, like really creating, having people see and feel the community that we’re trying to build. And the membership component of that, obviously, like paywalls, have been a kind of a controversial topic in digital media. But I do believe that premium content, if you create it, and you’re giving people the value, and they can see the value, and they can they can gain from it, then they see the value in joining, they see the value in becoming part of the community they they see that they can learn and they can they see that they can grow. And they can benefit from the expertise that from the content that we’re creating. So I’m, I guess I’m most excited about building that out. And hopefully, increasing our community increasing the number of people who consider themselves to be fast talk members consider themselves to be part of hostile community. Yeah, I

Rob Pickels  37:26

think that that’s a really important aspect of this science, you know, gosh, research journals, and whatever else, where people are able to get this information that everything is so locked down. And the democratization of information at this point has become so important. And I think that those are important changes that we’re going through with fast talk labs, making this podcast available to everyone re looking at our content and how we’re distributing that, you know, in the listeners, you need to know that we have a lot of changes that are sort of brewing up in the background right now. And I for one, can’t wait to make all of that stuff live. And I came from a world of really long lead times making peril in the cycling industry. And, man, I’m still struggling with that now, right? Because you just want it in front of people, you just want to be able to show them this really awesome thing that you’re that you’re working on. Yeah. And, you know, your insight has been hugely integral into doing that.

EK  38:19

Yeah, and I think all of us come from different, we all come from different sports, different backgrounds. But I think one of the things that unites everybody is whether it’s in the pool at 5am, or whether it’s out on a group ride gravel ride on a Sunday morning, or whatever it might be. There’s that camaraderie and there’s that community and there’s that bond. And there’s that trust that comes from people doing sports together training, like racing, re trying to reach a goal together. And that’s in that community. And that connection is what keeps people coming back. And it’s, it’s that that I really want to build into fast talk. And I think that’s where we’ll have people want to come be part of the community and be like, Oh, I get that you guys are doing something more than just creating content, you’re trying to help me get the best out of my sport, and my adventures and my and my performance. So I think that’s really, that’s really a big part of it for me

Rob Pickels  39:02

into that point of having it seen by as many people as possible. I love the changes that you’ve made on social media, where we’re giving people some more actionable advice, even just send our social feeds. And, you know, the other side of this is in the future, you know, look to this, maybe in the beginning of the new year, I don’t know that we have a specific date, where we’re going to be moving away from a completely locked down website, which is what we have right now that you have to have a membership to view any of our content, we’re going to be moving that so that people are able to view a significant amount of that kind of in a metered system, obviously, you know, I hate to say it, but the truth of the matter is, we’re a business we do need membership to survive. But we are going to be opening things up so that people can view and take in that content and they’re able to learn and to read and to watch at their own pace. And that’s going to be a huge, huge change for us moving forward that I’m really excited about.

EK  39:57

Yeah, I think that’s gonna be great. I think historically the in to net has always been free. And changing those habits, changing consumers habits and changing consumers expectations about what’s free, what you have to pay for is obviously a process that’s, you know takes time and some people are more willing to open their wallets and others. But I think there’s an exchange there. If we’re expecting somebody to pay for our content, it has to be premium content, it has to be good. And so there has to be an element of you know, you’re going to learn something, we’re going to give you something that is a value to you, we wouldn’t ask you to pay for it otherwise, and it’ll help you be a better athlete or help you be a better informed coach. And as part of that you’re part of foster community, you’re part of, you know, you’re part of what we’re trying to build and grow. And hopefully people see that. So we do, I do want there to be premium content out there that you can consume it fast talk, and it will help hopefully help you achieve your, whatever your goals might be. And so yeah, there will be changes coming early in the new year. So yeah, which I think we’re all excited about.

Rob Pickels  40:54

Yeah, the other thing that I’m really excited about is we’re re exploring the user experience of our website, the journey that people go through. We’re reassessing that through the eyes of these updated athlete and coach personas that I mentioned earlier. And I really think that that is going to be key to people enjoying the premium side of this content. Yeah, and I really think it’s going to elevate that experience. So yeah, I know I’m you know, I’ve Gosh, I wish it was January already. I don’t want to fast forward through Christmas or Thanksgiving. But a big part of me does wish it was January tomorrow. Thanksgiving. It

Trevor Connor  41:28

was a month ago.

Rob Pickels  41:29

Get over it. No, God, do you even have turkeys in Canada?

Trevor Connor  41:34

Yes. Americans come up all the time. Do they put up

EK  41:40

dad jokes free premium content.

Trevor Connor  41:47

Tell you episode wants that she’s already getting

EK  41:49

charged for that.

Trevor Connor  41:53

Well, Emma, Kate to finish things out here. You have been an athlete at the highest level, you’ve made a career of helping athletes sharing good information with them. So I don’t think this would be a complete episode without saying what are some wisdoms you could share with all of our listeners advice, suggestions, things you’ve learned the hard way? Oh, golly.

EK  42:17

Wow, there’s a lot there. I would say, I think you know, staying true to the roots of why you do what you do. I think you know, now I’m retired from triathlon. I haven’t actually raced triathlon since 2018. But it’s interesting to me to see what I almost feel like, watch what I am doing. You know, like, I love trail running now. And every weekend on a Sunday morning, I’ll always go out, I almost always go out for like, two. So our trail run. And so I think finding what you love and keep doing that. And I’ve never take for granted the fact that I can I get to like swim, bike, or run or lift weights or whatever your favorite activity might be. So I think really leaning into doing what you enjoy doing staying fit. And well, I think ever since I’ve been a little girl, I’ve always enjoyed the fact that we get to move our bodies. And that’s what the human body is designed to do. It’s designed to move and explore. And so I just, I just love keeping on doing that. So even though I’m not sort of swimming, biking, and running miles and miles and miles every week, I still just love doing the things that make me happy. So I’d say do that. whatever your thing is do it and and do it to the best of your ability.

Trevor Connor  43:23

Great. Well advocate. I’m glad we got you on the show. This certainly won’t be the last time we’re excited to have you be part of this. We’re excited what you’re bringing to the company. Can’t wait to see all these changes that we’re going to have in 2023. So I think with that, Rob, you want to take us out.

Rob Pickels  43:42

That was another episode of Fast Talk. Subscribe to Fast Talk wherever you prefer to find your favorite podcast. Be sure to leave us a rating and a review. The thoughts and opinions expressed on Fast Talk are those of the individual, especially EK bruiser crazy. As always, we love your feedback. Join the conversation at forums.fasttalklabs.com or tweet us at @fasttalklabs. Head to fasttalklabs.com to get access to our endurance sports knowledge base coach continuing education, as well as our in person and remote athletes services for EK Lidbury who really isn’t crazy. She’s pretty awesome, and Trevor Connor who’s Canadian. I’m Rob Pickles. Thanks for listening!