Athlete Profile – Emily Horvath

Emily Horvath

What two or three books would you recommend?

It doesn’t have to be triathlon related, but may have helped you with motivation/balance or to get through a tough time or create a new approach to the sport. 

Life is a Marathon by Matt Fitzgerald – great book, his “memoir” of sorts. An unreal story of his career and his wife’s struggles with bipolar disorder, and how they intersected.

In the Water, They Can’t See You Cry by Amanda Beard. An open, honest look at her life…a reminder that looking happy on the outside doesn’t always mean happy on the inside. 

I love biographies…real ones…because I love learning the stories behind people. There are so many common threads that connect us all – even when our tapestries look completely different.

What is a specific “failure” or “apparent failure” in a race or training that set you up for future success?

Or what was a turning point in your triathlon career that changed how you approached the sport/lifestyle?

This is the story of my last year! I started with Coach Robbie last August after completing some races but not really feeling like I reached my potential because of inconsistent training (and really having no idea what I was doing).

I had the goal to race IM Florida – which was a bit daunting with only about 12 weeks to truly train. I just sort of put blind trust in him and really stuck to the training plan. I gained more fitness in that short period than I ever thought possible! I felt as ready as I could be for the race.

I had a great swim and the best bike of my life, but unfortunately due to some GI issues, I DNF on the run. But the strangest thing was that I wasn’t really all that disappointed! Sure, I would have loved to have finished my first attempt. But I was just so happy with the consistency I developed and the progress I made during training. I really felt like it was a successful journey.

A few weeks later I ran a ½ marathon (wanted to do something with that run fitness!), and I had a lifetime PR by 10 minutes – a dream that I had thought was pretty much dead. The whole experience just gave me a newfound love of training and a renewed sense of confidence in myself. I’m so grateful l for it, and excited to keep going!

Emily Horvath

If you could make an Instagram post you knew would be seen and shared by millions, what would it say?

It doesn’t have to be your quote, just something you love and think would make a difference. 

“People will forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”  This is one of the truest statements I know. 

In the last 5 years, what is the behavior, habit or new belief that has most changed how you train? 

I think my attitude about health and fitness has changed in general. Growing up as a swimmer, I really took having a healthy, active body for granted. I just never assumed I would live any other way. It didn’t take me long (ok, maybe 4 years of college and 4 years of med school) before I realized that this wasn’t the case. Life, stress, and other “priorities” left me feeling like a shell of the healthy person I had once been. It was really scary and eye opening when I started to see people my age having health issues, and I started to appreciate the fact that tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Now my training is all about feeling the best I possibly can every day – because today is the only thing I can control. 

What advice would you give a friend your age who is just getting into triathlon? What advice should they ignore?

I would tell them to just have fun and enjoy this amazing sport! It shouldn’t add any stress to your life – only enjoyment.

In the last 5 years how have you changed your approach to nutrition? What are some specific benefits you’ve found?

Nutrition has been an ongoing battle for me! When I was a teenager I struggled with an eating disorder, and it really affected my swimming performance. It was a difficult period for sure, but I’m glad I went through it – and it’s something I reflect on a lot actually. It’s made me appreciate how much nutrition really matters in terms feeling my best both mentally and physically. I love feeling strong and fueled! I’ve really enjoyed cooking more over the past several years and learning more about nutrition to find what works best for me.

Emily Horvath and family

When you feel overwhelmed, unmotivated or distracted what kind of things do you do to get back in the game and re-center/focus? If helpful, what questions do you ask?

It sounds cheesy, but listening to the C26 podcast and watching Ironman videos on YouTube helps me a lot. I tear up at the finish line shots and music every time! I love seeing the struggles people go through and then seeing them overcome. Listening to Mike and Robbie always reminds me not to take myself too seriously – that things don’t have to be so complicated. Just swim, bike, run, and have fun. Another thing that helps me is just going for a swim. The water always feels like home, and kind of transports me back to simpler times. I can drag myself to the pool feeling awful and having a pity party, but when I’m done I feel like a different person. I think the smell of chlorine is therapeutic 😊

Of swim, bike, run, what is your toughest sport and what kind of things have you found helpful to improve?

Bike, for sure. It’s a mental thing, because I really didn’t start biking until several years ago. I’ve been swimming and running for a long time. The thing that’s helped me the most has been riding outside as much as possible. It’s helped my handling a lot, which has made me more confident. Hills have also always made me uncomfortable, so I make myself ride them whenever I can (well – as much as I can find them in the flat Illinois cornfields). The mechanical element of bike maintenance is still intimidating to me! 

What is your “why” when it comes to triathlon and how do you keep it present in your mind?

I think my “why” is kind of fluid actually, but a big part of it is just wanting to keep my body and mind as healthy as I can. It’s such a gift to be able to do this sport, and it’s one that a lot of people don’t have. I don’t want to waste it. That’s not to say I don’t still struggle with consistency! I definitely go through funks and periods where I don’t feel like training. But reminding myself how lucky I am to be able to get up in the morning and say “I get to go for a 60 minute run today” helps keep me focused. Most days. 😊

Emily Horvath and family

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