The Road To Nationals with Emma McCune

UCLA Triathlete about her transition to Tri and what keeps her going

  • Hometown: San Francisco
  • School: UCLA
  • Sport: Triathlon
  • Instagram.com/phlegma1
  • RM:  How did you find your sport of choice?
    I ran cross country and played soccer throughout my childhood and high school. When I came to college, I was eager to find the same kind of community I had gained through my cross country and soccer teams, and I was also excited to try something new. So I decided to take up the challenge of learning how to swim and bike, and joined the triathlon team at UCLA. At first, the idea of doing triathlons was absolutely crazy to me! However, I soon became hooked to the sport, both through the community of people and the type of lifestyle it introduced me to. 
  • RM:  What drives your competitiveness?
    I am driven by a desire to always be improving: I am always looking for ways to strengthen my weaknesses and go beyond my strengths. So I guess the only person I'm really competitive with is myself. To me, nothing is more rewarding than breaking personal records and watching the hard work and focus that I put into every training session come to fruition through my performances at races. 
  • RM:  Athlete that inspires you? Why?
    Well, all of the athletes on my team continue to inspire me everyday through their incredible work ethics and awesome personalities. But if I had to choose someone in particular, it would have to be my coach, Brady O'Bryan, for embodying the essence of strength, perseverance, and resilience in every sense of the word, and for helping me to grow into a better athlete and person every single day. 
  • RM:  How many years have you been competing?
    This is my 4th year competing in triathlons! 
  • RM:  Perfect weekend workout trip... where to? what do you bring? Itemize it! Tell us why it's in your car and why we need it.
    Oh boy! Well, it would start with a long and epic bike ride with all of my friends. We would start when the sun is still down, because every good day starts with a sunrise. The ride would entail lots of climbing, lots of cool views, and lots of coffee stops. We would end the bike ride at a campsite next to a beautiful lake. Our cars will already be at the campsite (somehow they drove themselves there - technology these days!) and they will be FILLED with food, particularly all the makings of a burrito, avocados, fruit, ice cream, peanut butter, and more ice cream. There will also be a car full of dogs, because every good day is not complete without a dog or two. We'd swim and splash (mostly splash) around in the lake for a few hours. Then we'd make dinner, hang out by a campfire, and eventually fall asleep under the stars. The next day, we'd wake up early and go on an adventure run-hike before heading back home. And throughout this ideal weekend, nobody would have any homework or studying to worry about! 



  • RM:  Group Training or do you prefer solitude? why?
    Group training for sure! I honestly don't think I would be half as committed to this sport if it wasn't for the amazing group of people that I am blessed to workout with everyday. My teammates push me and motivate me to work harder at every practice, but also make it so that I am having a ton of fun all the while. In fact, I no longer view training sessions as "practices": rather, they are opportunities for me to go blow off some steam and have a good time with my friends. 
  • RM:  Best result so far?
    My proudest result so far was placing second at the 2016 WCCTC Conference Championships, behind my teammate and bestie Kelly Kosmo. I am also very proud of being the two-year reigning champ of the ever-prestigious "Best Strava Titles" award on the UCLA Triathlon team. I'm working hard for a three-peat this year! 
  • RM:  What are you working on right now?
    My swimming, most definitely. I'm especially working on my upper body strength so that one day I will finally be able to do a proper pool deck out. Any of my teammates can bear witness, my deck outs are pretty pathetic. Besides that, I'm working on graduating from UCLA and figuring out my future career in public health and medicine.
  • RM:  What are you training for now?
    Collegiate National Championships! I hope to finish off my collegiate triathlon career on a high note with a personal best performance. 


  • RM:  Training secrets? Care to share?
    I have four training tips that I always live by:
    1. Surround yourself with good people - just like every aspect of life, training is so much more enjoyable when you're surrounded by people who make you happy.
    2. Have fun! - swimming, biking, and running are fun, that's why I'm doing all of this in the first place! I get through every hard training session and push through the pain by reminding myself that I love what I am doing. Mental fortitude is the name of the game, and it's so much easier to remain mentally strong when you ignore the negatives and focus on all of the positives.
    3. Eat a lot of burritos
  • RM:  Do you have a dream race you want to create?
    Mars Triathlon - it's a triathlon, on Mars! This isn't actually a "dream" race, because it's going to happen: my friend Nik and I are currently in the process of figuring out the logistics and whatnot. Stay tuned for details! 
  • RM:  Training Tracks: Favorite songs to train/race to?
    Waited 4 U (Odesza Remix) - Slow Magic
    Pop That - French Montana
    Boarderline (Vanic Remix) - Tove Styrke
    Shots - LMFAO
    Love Me Like You Do - Ellie Goulding (kinda joking but also kinda not joking)
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