Continues to run with the world’s best
Homegrown track and field athlete Emma Coburn continues to rack up personal record times and titles on the steeplechase circuit this season including winning her third National title last week at the US Track and Field (USTAF) National Championships in Sacramento, California.
Coburn missed most of last year healing from an injury but returned to action in top form winning the 3000-meter steeplechase at the IAAF Diamond League race in Shanghai, China on May 18.
She followed that with another podium finish at another Diamond League race, the top league among professional track and field athletes, when she finished third at the Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon on May 31 setting a new personal record (PR) time of 9:17.
“Going into that race my goal was to PR and to run aggressive again in the hopes that I could place high,” says Coburn. “The race went well and again made me realize that I belong in the top group of these races. It gave me confidence that I can run well even when feeling a little tired.”
Next on the schedule was the USTAF National Championships. Coburn had two National titles to her name already and was favored to rack up a third title heading into the race but didn’t let the pressure get to her.
“The build up to Nationals was nothing out of the ordinary,” says Coburn. “There is always an added pressure when you come into a race picked as the favorite. Luckily, between college races and US championships in the past, I’ve had some experience being calm under pressure. It doesn’t faze me much at all. I go to the starting line as if it’s any other race, ready to execute my race plan.”
Still, with the California heat settling into the Sacramento area on race day, the race wasn’t entirely free of issues.
“It was 90 degrees on the track and I don’t have a lot of experience racing in hot conditions, so the weather was a concern,” admits Coburn. “We did a lot of “cool prep” before the race to make sure our core temp was down before we got to the starting line (an ice vest, cold towels, cold water over us, etc).”
Coburn decided she would stay conservative and run with the pack and then continue to work on her final kick.
“My strategy was to be as relaxed as I could be for the first half and run with the pack, then accelerate,” says Coburn. “Accelerating over the last kilometer is always good practice because it prepares me well for fast closing laps of Diamond League races.”
Halfway through the race she found herself in the lead and carried the lead to break the tape with a time of 9:19 and win her third National steeplechase title.
“I was shocked that I ran that fast,” says Coburn. “It was the worst conditions I had raced in all year but I still managed to feel comfortable and run fast.”
Coburn chalks up her recent spate of success on both the world and national stage to experience. While she’s always been consistent, as she continues to compete she continues to gain steam with each season.
“This year is just another step in the right direction, with more small PRs,” says Coburn. “Nothing has changed in my training, I think just having another year of running under my belt is helping. Women middle distance/distance runners don’t hit their peak until their late 20s/early 30s, so I think some of the success stems from just being a year older, a year stronger.”
Coburn is back overseas now getting ready to race in a Diamond League steeple in Paris on Saturday, July 5, train in Switzerland and then line up for a Diamond League race in Glasgow, Scotland on Saturday, July 12. You can watch both races live on Universal Sports at noon.
“I’m really happy about the results because it gives me confidence knowing that I’m in the best shape of the season,” says Coburn. “It made me really excited to get to Europe and try and race in better conditions and run some more PRs!”