Almost every runner has a dream of participating in a marathon at some point in their journey. I fell in love with running during the pandemic, and now, it’s one of my main sources of exercise. So I decided to sign up for a half-marathon in 2023. Since I’m new to the sport, I never miss an opportunity to learn more about how I can improve my running. That said, I got the chance to chat with Olympian and long-distance runner Molly Seidel about her tips for new runners and what she’s learned throughout her career.
As someone who has been running since she was 12 years old and professionally since 2017, Seidel dreamed of going to the Olympics and winning a gold medal. Running has always been second nature to her and a form of relief. “It’s the thing that makes my brain work. I feel like my best self when I’m in motion. I feel blessed that the thing that I love most is the thing I happen to be pretty good at,” Seidel explains. “I truly think running is the greatest sport in the world, and it’s wonderful that everyone—no matter where you come from—could come in this sport and find their own way with it.”
Recently, she became the spokesperson for the Women’s Sports Foundation x Michelob Ultra Run Fund. The partnership is centered around trying to increase parity in the sport by providing training for women and nonbinary runners who are running their first marathon as well as awarding them NYC Marathon bibs for 2023.
Seidel made history in the 2020 Olympics as the third American woman ever to get a medal in the Olympic marathon, and she has learned quite a few things over the years that can be beneficial for runners at any level. Keep scrolling to see what advice she gives to runners today.
Listen To Your Body
I’ve read countless articles and watched tons of videos of people sharing what works for them, and more often than not, the routines and intensive training schedules that I’ve tried to follow end up failing. Seidel believes that our routines should be tailored to our bodies since they are our greatest teachers. “Everybody’s approach is different. You can have the best training schedule in the world, but if it doesn’t fit with how your body works, it doesn’t matter. The way I approach my training is very different from other runners. Listen to your body when you need a rest day,” she says.
Give Yourself Mental and Physical Rest
Running frequently can be quite taxing on the body, and most people who run realize that rest days are crucial in order to give your body a break. Seidel believes in the importance of resting your body as well as your mind. “Find a place for different kinds of running. There will be days you will be going all out as hard as you can, but balance that out with going out and meeting up with friends. That’s what makes running so special—it can be so many different things,” explains Seidel. “You can be fully dedicated and focused, and there can be days where you’re just going out and having fun.”
Do Something Completely Different on Rest Days
While some people consider rest days a day to get in a short run, Seidel suggests doing something you love that may be outside of running. “A lot of times, I go for a walk in the woods. I really like reading, so I’ll spend the day reading different books that have nothing to do with running. It has to be something completely different,” she says.
Know Your Strengths
Oftentimes, when we try to achieve a certain goal or status, we tend to compare our strengths and weaknesses to others. Seidel recommends not doing that and instead looking within ourselves for our superpowers. “I would get really down on myself that I couldn’t do certain workouts, and then I realized that it’s a strength to know exactly how my body functioned and knowing that I may not have the same body or same brain as someone, but it’s still pretty special, and it can do pretty special things,” explains Seidel.
Run your own race
Personally, I get intimidated when I see running times of other runners, and it makes me feel like I’m not a “real” runner. But Seidel stresses the importance of being able to run your own race and stay in your own lane. “My breakthrough in this sport didn’t come until the point that I got out of the mentality that I needed to do things the way that everybody else does them and finally started doing things the way that I needed to, and only then did I start to find success,” she says. This is something that Seidel lives by, and it helped shape her perspective when she was competing in the 2020 Olympics. “There was so much stress and pressure leading into that race. … Knowing that the minute I crossed this start line I got to call myself an Olympian, that allowed me to race without nerves, and it opened me up to an incredible experience,” she says.
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