Molly Huddle is one of USA’s top distance runners, an Olympic Finalist, US Record Holder, 21x National Champ and 4th place finisher at Worlds..... In other words she’s a bada** athlete. But when I asked Molly if her claim to fame was her success in running or her viral campaign to get a #RunnerGirlEmjoi created that she said it was probably the latter . She admits she’s surprised by her new found status as the emoji queen, but welcomes it as she does love a good emoji.
In this interview Molly shares some revealing insights into her competitive mindset, her nervous thoughts and the remarkable adaptability of running!
What’s the hardest thing about being an professional athlete and competing?
Molly: I find it hard to deal with the pressures of an important event in the days and hours leading into it. It's hard to find that balance between preparedness/wariness and confidence/unflappability.
What’s the most underrated element of training and competing?
Molly: I'd say consistency is an overlooked cornerstone to successful racing because it isn't very interesting. It doesn't photograph well or make an exciting story and can be adversely affected by always testing new trends or changing programs too often. Breakthroughs can seem like dramatic moments but are often supported by a few years of uninterrupted work and gradual progress just waiting for the right moment to solidify.
How important is recovery?
Molly: Recovery is important in preventing the injuries, illnesses and fatigue that can hinder the fitness you worked so hard to build. I found it hard at first to admit the level of recovery I actually needed, but saw pretty immediate PR's and improved workouts once I committed to easier recovery runs and an extra day of rest between workouts.
How you do you recovery?
Molly: I recover with one easy run of under an hour. It's a good day to take the scenic route and not worry about pace. (Full disclosure; Molly recovers with me (Ro) on her easy days. I take my role of “pacer of easy runs” very seriously :)
How and when do pre-race nerves show up for you?
Molly: For me, pre race nerves usually show up as one of two things: strange ailments or last minute doubts about whether the plans I made during saner times included enough or the right kind of work to get the job done. I try to look to people close to me for reassurance and remind myself that my judgements are clouded by nervousness right then.
Have you ever said ridiculous things to yourself before you race due to nerves/pre race anxiety? Can you share an example of something you’ve said? How did you ignore/deal with these nervous thoughts?
Molly: Having a secret flare for the dramatic, before important races I have told myself everything from you will lose to you will drop out to you are dying. As catastrophic as they sound, I realize they are just the product of nervous synapses firing off gibberish in my brain, so they come and go quickly and I don't put much stock into them. I try to match each one with an equally outlandish positive thought.
What’s the best part of running?
Molly: The best part of running is that once it's part of your routine, it can be whatever you need that day: competition, camaraderie, reflection, health, ......transportation :).
What’s the best part of competing?
Molly: Competing can be scary because it involves risk and vulnerability; everyone lines up and agrees to go to a breaking point, so sometimes you end up as one of the broken ones. But the best part of competing are the times you agree to go to a breaking point and end up pushing back what you thought were limits.
What’s it like to have a breakthrough race? Can you describe the feeling?
Molly: A breakthrough race feels like validation of all the hard days, attention to detail and difficult decisions made along the way. It's like suddenly being able to zoom out on a map and see not only are you not lost, but you're actually headed somewhere better than you had imagined.
Good luck Molly!
Molly Huddles lives and trains in Providence, RI. She will compete at the Olympic Trials on Saturday at 11.04am PST in Eugene in the 10,000m with the goal of making her second Olympic Team. More blogs about Molly here & here.
Runner Girl Emoji Shwag
Get your #RunnerGirlEmoji shwag and support middle school running programs in Rhode Island! Molly asked me and my husband to help her create the #emojirunnergirl . We recently teamed up with the awesome SarahMarieDesignStudio.com to print it on shirts + mugs. Check 'em out and rock them to support #emojiequality
Roisin McGettigan-Dumas, is an Olympian, sports psychology coach and the co-author of Believe Training Journal (VeloPress), available for order now