Get to know Verity 'Beep Beep' Breen

January 15th 2020

She won the Nike Women’s Marathon in 2012. She’s got her own apparel company. She calls her life partner ‘El Husbandido’. Meet Verity ‘Beep Beep’ Breen.

Verity’s talent is only matched by her wacky (and omnipresent) sense of humor. One can’t overstate the value of sense of humor when it comes to racing at a high level (which Verity has done PLENTY of). When you laugh, you can’t help but relax.

When you relax, you always perform better. Is it any wonder Verity’s had such great success on the road? She’s always laughing. Therefore, she’s always relaxed. Therefore, she’s always out there kicking ass on race day.

We all have much to learn from Verity.

Have you always been a runner? How did you get into the sport?

No, I have not always been a runner. I tested out soccer. I did three years of ballet in my teens. I even did one season of baseball.

With running, I did this funny, random thing every now and again over the years. I would run the small block in the hood. Then, I expanded to two blocks and eventually, three.

I asked my mother to take note of the time on the kitchen clock before I left and let me know how long I was gone. Quite sure she just made it up, but she told me I was pretty quick. 

A few years later, I found myself engaged to a triathlete guy at 22. One night, I followed him on his run and whipped his butt on the way home. He was really annoyed. Luckily, as fate would have it, he called the wedding off some time later.

I bought a car, a triathlon bike, new running shoes, and took a fabulous, new job in sunny Queensland. I then commenced tackling the sport of triathlon with great gusto. I eventually navigated my way into the Australian Triathlon Team for the Triathlon World Championships.

I was 25 and so excited! I came to realize I could not only run, but loved running and the story starts there.

-What does a 'typical' week of training look like for you?

A typical base week is a minimum of 50 miles/week to keep general base fitness. When preparing for a key race, I might average 80 to 100 miles/week. I once did 8 weeks at 120+ miles. But, it didn’t work well for me.

However, for some this kind of volume works swimmingly. I have always worked full time, so it’s tough to manage this kind of volume, a career, and still have a balanced life.

BTW, cross training is king as far as I am concerned. I swim, spin, bike, and do weights every week. I do either power or bikram yoga to keep my flexibility and core in shape as I age. 

-Has your training evolved over the years? What do you differently now versus 10-15 years ago?

Yes, it has absolutely.  Every five years since I turned 30, I have put contingencies in place to reduce the risk of injury, improve the chances of having a long running career, and optimize as I age in order to continue to compete.

Now at 49, I take one week off with no running each year. The week is chosen where it fits best. During this week I still enjoy moving my body each day with various easy forms of exercise that are not running.  A swim, easy hike, cycle, yoga, etc.  

A mandatory rule after I clocked about 100 marathons some years back is a very low mileage week after every marathon. If I really go at one and race hard, I allow 4 weeks of easy running until I feel ready for sharp work, hard speed, etc.

-Is there 'one' singular running accomplishment you can point to that stands out above all others? 

The Canberra Marathon has always been a great race for me. Well, almost always. One year, the stars did not align.

Things were not clicking for me that day. For some reason, I felt a bit low mentally.

I gave a guy a lift to the race who was notching his marathon debut. At mile 20 (to my horror), I found myself getting swallowed by a pack of runners including ‘debut guy’! I freaked out.

I looked across the pack at ‘debut guy’. He grinned back at me. I then looked at the two women in the pack. One was very relaxed, confident, and still able to chat. The other was very quiet, determined, and controlled.

Something in me hardened. I was bound and determined to fight all of them to the finish. For 6 damn miles, I threw the book at them in hopes of breaking free.

Every time I made a move, they responded. The four of us were stuck like glue. At the last hill before a final, flat 400 meter dash to the finish line, debut guy made a go for it and broke away from us.

I followed debut guy. With every ounce of my soul, I threw in one final surge heading up hill. I broke away. I shook them off.

At the finish line, each of us shared some prize money. But, we also shared major hugs and smiles. All of us won that day.

Those two women set new PR's. As for me, I had an epiphany. A made up mind is a POWERFUL THING.

-What's the story behind your 'Beep Beep' catchphrase?

This is my signature signal when racing or training on trail or road. Due to the lightness of my feet landing people rarely hear me coming. So, in order not to scare the crap out of them, I yell 'Beep Beep' when I'm about to pass! It's always received with a laugh and gives people a chuckle creating good vibes.

-Do you have any special tips/tricks you'd like to share with our runners?

Be kind to your body. Keep it simple and real. Pay attention to the red flags.

Spend money on massage when you can. Don't waste too much energy (or money) on the gimmicks. 

Swim to loosen up the bones and the body. Do drills.

Listen to people that don't try to tell you they are an expert.  

Some people genuinely hate running, I say to them,  ‘That's totally ok, I hate cabbage.’

To be able to run as a hobby is a blessing. It's not a chore.

The body loves to be exercised and will love you back if you do it the right way.