Coming into the 2020 Olympic marathon trials, Molly Seidel wasn’t pinned as the race favorite.
2 hours, 27 minutes, and 31 seconds later, she shocked herself and everyone else.
Molly Seidel, a first-time marathoner in a field of decorated athletes, took second at the U.S. Olympic Trials and punched her ticket to the Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Running only one marathon in between the trials and the Olympics, Molly pulled off the unthinkable. In an incredible upset, she took third place in a stacked field and brought home Team USA’s first Olympic marathon medal in 18 years.
Since her standout Olympic performance, Molly struggled for a few years through a string of injuries and mental health challenges. It wouldn’t be until the 2023 Chicago Marathon that she would make her return to marathon racing.
Thanks to COROS, we got the chance to talk with Molly about her return to racing, her Chicago Marathon Performance, and her preparations for the Olympic Trials.
Molly’s Build To Chicago As She Returns To Racing
After taking bronze at the Olympics in 2021, Molly started facing some setbacks. Prior to the 2021 New York City Marathon, she broke two ribs.
A few months later, she dropped out of the 2022 Boston Marathon because of a hip injury.
Finally, in 2023, after improving her mental and physical health, Molly was ready to make a return to racing. She ran a half-marathon in February, followed by a 10k in June and a 20k in September.She hadn’t had the results she knew she was capable of, but after a long hiatus from racing, she was patient with herself.
Her preparation for Chicago was much shorter than her Olympic buildup, as she was still dealing with some setbacks.
“Every marathon build is different, but this one was much shorter. I was dealing with anemia, so had less time to be really focused. Eventually, I was able to get into the swing of things,” she said of her build to Chicago.
Molly says her COROS data helped her keep track of her progress during her build.
She and her coach dialed in on her Load Impact and Fatigue.
Load Impact measures the strain your body accumulates from workouts over the last seven days. Fatigue is a figure that is the difference between Base Fitness and Load Impact.
During her Chicago build, they made sure to avoid spending much time in High or Excessive Fatigue zones.
Molly talks about the importance of being in tune with her body. Knowing when she is feeling off and may need to scrap workouts or make adjustments to her training plan was key to staying healthy and fresh throughout her Chicago build.
The Load Impact and Fatigue data gave Molly the ability to confirm when she felt more tired than she should or if she was nearing the line of a potential injury.
“I have a really intuitive sense of my body. After doing this for so long and going through so many injuries and setbacks, I am really able to tell when something’s not feeling right. The data from COROS really helps confirm what I feel, and we’re able to make adjustments to training from there.”
Using Chicago As A Step Towards Paris 2024
After doing all the training, Molly was excited yet still nervous to return to her first marathon since Tokyo.
She was able to look back at her accumulated training in her COROS data to give her objective reassurance that she was prepared.
“It’s really easy to get in your head and start having negative thoughts about not being good enough. I also tore my glute not so long ago, so being able to look at my data and having that objective perspective helped confirm that I was ready,” Molly said.
Molly was indeed ready, placing eighth at the Chicago marathon and second among the American women. Running a personal best time of 2:23:07, she is content with her progress and is taking confidence into her Olympic Trials prep.
“I don’t really look at my watch when I race; it’s really easy to get wrapped up, and then it gets into your head. It’s really helpful to go in and look at the data afterward to know what went well and where we may need to pay more attention.”
Molly is using Chicago as a stepping stone toward her main goal, the U.S. Olympic Trials.
Despite her setbacks, she says her overarching goal hasn’t changed.
“This [setbacks] hasn’t changed the goal. It’s always been Trials and qualifying for Paris. It changes the timeline and the stepping goals to get there. I’ve just had to be really honest with myself, focus on being healthy, and then on improving as an athlete. There have been rough periods, but it’s led to a lot of personal growth.”
Molly has undoubtedly battled through rough periods over the last few years. She says that while working hard on her mental health, there are still harder days.
“With the pressure of competing at such a high level, there’s always times when you won’t feel great. I think we should treat the brain just like any muscle,” she talks about her continuous mental health journey.
“Consistent work with a therapist, setting aside time to reflect, managing how much time I’m on my phone, meditating, taking downtime when I need it, alternating training methods. Finding different ways to balance out the pressure.”
With the Chicago Marathon completed, we asked Molly what was next for her ahead of the Olympic Trials.
“I’m taking some down weeks, and in November, we’ll really start the build-up to the Olympic Trials, which are on February 3.”
Molly says that making sure she’s recovered both mentally and physically is a priority for her before getting into big weeks of training.
Molly balances developing an intuitive sense of her body and objective data when gauging her recovery. She finds looking at the aggregate data from her COROS and the data trends helps her and her coach confirm when she feels ready to get back to full training.
Although she has yet to determine her next race, she will undoubtedly be running the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials on February 3, 2024, in Orlando, Florida. She will go head-to-head with the best marathoners in the USA in an attempt to make her second Olympic team.