The middle, long distance and cross country runner believes that success comes from hard work and dedication.
Raise Your Game: How did you first get involved in athletics?
Emily Pidgeon: I used to run for my primary school from year three until year six. At the end of year five a coach, whose son went to the same school as me, asked me to go training with him so I said 'Yes'. I really enjoyed it and kept going from there.
RYG: A lot of people are often put off by the thought of running long distances. What was it that attracted you to that discipline?
EP: To be honest, I was really bad at sprints and could only really run cross country! Everyone else preferred 100m races at school and I would come last in those races, but was always good at the cross country. I very much preferred it and I did more of it because I enjoyed it. I tried to avoid the sprinting if I could!
RYG: How dedicated do you have to be to get to your level?
1 June 1989
Middle, long distance and cross country running
- Bronze medal 5000m - European Under 23 Championships in Lithuania
EP: I've missed out on some things and haven't lived like a normal teenager in that I don't go out partying so much because I've got to get up early in the morning due to training. You have to be very dedicated, but I really enjoy it so it's not an issue. It doesn't feel like a burden and you don't mind making the sacrifices.
The school used to organise post-GCSE trips away, but I was never allowed to go on those. There was one trip where they went to build orphanages in Romania and I've always loved the idea of doing that, but was never allowed to go. I didn't really mind because my friends were very understanding and they involved me as much as they could.
RYG: How do you balance the studying for school or exams with your busy training schedule?
EP: You have to be very disciplined. You have to get up in the morning with an idea of what you've got to do that day and when you're going to fit it all in. You have to use every minute and you need to use your time wisely. Don't stay in bed late. Get up with an idea of what you've got to do and get it done.
RYG: Why is it important for you to set goals?
EP: It gives you direction so that you know where you're going. It motivates you to go out training when the weather's not so nice, or if you've got a very hard session, it gives you something to look forward to and to work towards. It's important to have an idea of what races you want to do and where you want to finish. It helps to keep you motivated.
RYG: How important is it to ensure that your body gets the right amount of rest?
EP: When you're training, you don't actually adapt to the training during the session. That comes afterwards when you sit down for a few hours and let your body recover. If you're running around after a session or rushing in to town, you can't recover properly and when it comes to the next session you won't be as fresh as you should be.
RYG: Although you compete in an individual event there is a strong team of people behind you. How do they ensure you're in peak physical form for training and competitions?
EP: Most athletes have their coach who deals with the athlete's running and then there's the nutritionist, the strength and conditioning coach, physiotherapists and doctors. They are the people who keep you in one piece and get you back on the track each day. Your coach has the biggest input because he's the one who sets your training, motivates you and helps you through your races, but you couldn't go out and do what an athlete does every day unless you had the rest of the team behind you.
RYG: What do you say to yourself to get through those difficult periods during races?
EP: You always go through a difficult patch during the middle of the race where it gets very hard, but towards the end, when you see the finish line, you pick yourself up a bit. When you're out there for a long time you need to motivate yourself to stay on track and work towards a personal best or something similar.
People always ask if I get distracted during races, but with so many people running and swapping positions throughout you can't lose focus because there's so much going on and so much to think about. Often we'll have a very slow start that eventually winds up and gets faster and faster, so you can't afford to lose concentration when that happens otherwise someone will make a break and you'll get left behind.
RYG: What makes a successful athlete - talent or attitude?
EP: You can't be successful with just one of them. You need a combination of the two, but I think attitude is hugely important. If somebody has got huge amounts of talent, but not the right attitude, they will never make it. If you've got the right attitude, and you're an aggressive runner, then you'll always do better in races. A good combination of the two would be ideal, but it can be quite hard to come by.
RYG: What are your goals and ambitions for the future?
EP: I hope to go to the 2012 Olympics. That would be absolutely amazing. Any Olympics would be incredible, but to have one in your own country is a once in a lifetime opportunity. That's a huge goal for me, but after that I'm looking towards 2016 because I think I'll be more in my prime by then. By the time 2012 comes around I want to be up there ruffling a few feathers. It's hard work, but it's a lot of fun and I like what I do so that's good!
RYG: Do you have any advice for all the young people looking to follow in your footsteps?
EP: It's hugely important to enjoy it. It's a very hard sport and it's such a hard sport to do if you're not enjoying it. You get such a good feeling when you run well and achieve a personal best or a win, and if you enjoy it, you should be willing to work hard. It's a brilliant sport and I hope that more people take it up. It's got a bad reputation at school and not many people enjoy it, but I love it and you should enjoy it too!
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