28 JUL 2014 Feature

Work, rest and play – Brianne Theisen Eaton

Brianne Theisen (Getty Images)Brianne Theisen (Getty Images) © Copyright

World heptathlon silver medallist Brianne Theisen Eaton is among the world’s best combined eventers.

This week she will compete in the heptathlon at the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. Here the wife of Olympic decathlon champion Ashton Eaton answers our work, rest and play questions.

Brianne at Work


What is your favourite training session?

Brianne Theisen Eaton: My favourite training session is anything to do with hurdles and running workouts. Some people may think I'm crazy that I love to run so hard that I can't stand up, but I think with all the technical event work we do it can get frustrating at times, and there's something about unleashing that frustration in a good hard running workout that feels good to me. The hurdles have always just been really fun to me.


What is your least favourite training session?

BTE: My least favourite are the weight lifting sessions. With multi event training, it's hard to fit everything in when you actually have some energy and explosive legs under you. That means that usually our lifting sessions are the day after our hard running workouts and because this involves a lot of explosive leg work I always find it miserable! I get especially lazy in between sets when I have to take weight off and put new ones on. I usually make a deal with my coach, Harry (Marra), that I will do one side of the bar if he does the other.


What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

BTE: My three favourite things about being an athlete are: 1) travelling, 2) getting to set my own schedule (it's not your typical nine-to-five job), and 3) getting to test myself mentally and physically.


Who is your favourite training partner?

BTE: Well I only have one training partner, and that's my husband, Ashton, so I guess he's my favourite training partner. No, he'd be my favourite even if I had other training partners because although most training partners genuinely wish one another well, I think it's different when your training partner is your husband or your wife. We are literally each other's biggest fan, plus we get to compete at all the same competitions, do our pre-meets together, and know what one another is going through because we understand each other so well. 


Where is your favourite training venue?

BTE: I have a couple of favourites. Obviously, I love training at Hayward Field just because it's my home track and I find the atmosphere motivating and exciting, but just like any athlete I like to get some sunshine in the winter months and I love training at the Westmont Track in Santa Barbara.

Brianne at Rest


Describe your perfect day without training.

BTE: My perfect day without training (assuming I couldn't teleport to some tropical island) would be to wake up without an alarm clock, enjoy a cup of coffee and a power muffin from Humble Bagel (if you're ever in Eugene, you must try one!) while watching HGTV or Food Network. I would spend the day shopping and getting my nails done, and I'd wrap it up by going out for a nice dinner with my husband and renting a good movie from RedBox.


What is your favourite stress reliever?

BTE: Usually I like to lie in bed and watch Netflix or read to take my mind off something that is bothering me.


Where is your favourite place to relax?

BTE: Definitely the home I share with Ashton. Our friends have nicknamed it "The Den" because it's really quiet, comfortable, and when we shut the curtains at night it's just like a comfortable den.


What TV shows do you like to relax to?

BTE: I like a lot of different shows: Grey's Anatomy, Scandal, The Amazing Race, Keeping up with the Kardashians, and I hate to admit this but my guilty pleasure is The Bachelor/Bachelorette.


What is your favourite meal?

BTE: Hands down my dad's BBQ rib eye steak and my mom's baked potatoes, Caesar salad and garlic bread with a nice glass of red wine.

Brianne at Play


When did yous passion for volleyball start?

BTE: I started playing volleyball when I was in seventh grade and it quickly became one of my favourite sports. I only ever had time to play volleyball to a high school level because I devoted so much time to track.


When was your last game of volleyball?

BTE: My last game of volleyball was in Santa Barbara in April. I played on the beach with a bunch of French and Canadian combined eventers and some US athletes. You can only imagine how competitive it got! 


Are you better at volleyball than Ashton?

BTE: Way better! Ashton's strength in volleyball is his jumping ability and because of that he can sometimes get the job done, but it's not very pretty and he has no accuracy. We'll work on it. Maybe by 2020 there will be mixed doubles volleyball in the Olympics and we'll enter a team.


How do you feel your background in volleyball helped your athletics?

BTE: I think playing volleyball helped with my athletics a lot. I am a firm believer in playing a lot of different sports when you're younger, and I think volleyball not only helped with my coordination and keeping me athletic, but also the amount of explosive jumping and plyos you do in volleyball is the same sort of stuff I do in training now. We actually work a little bit of volleyball spike approaches into training for high jump.


Which track and field athlete (other than yourself and Ashton) do you think would make the best volleyball player?

BTE: Pretty much any high jumper. Obviously I am biased because he's Canadian, but Derek Drouin (2.40m high jumper) is incredibly athletic. He actually trained like a decathlete through college and I think if he didn't play volleyball when he was younger, he would pick it up very quickly.


Do you have an all-time favourite volleyball player?

BTE: I like Kerri Walsh and Misty May-Treanor (three-time Olympic champions). My roommate and I actually dressed like them for Halloween one year.


Steve Landells for the IAAF