Molly Seidel was supposed to be in Japan this summer for the Olympics, but that’s not happening due to the global impact of COVID-19. Fortunately, the 25-year-old decorated track athlete from Wisconsin is used to curveballs. Sometimes, they’re bad, like when an eating disorder led to osteopenia, which resulted in a hip injury that required surgery in 2018. Sometimes, they’re good, like when she decided to run a marathon for the first time ever—at the U.S. Olympic Marathon Trials, where she finished second and punched her (now delayed) ticket to Tokyo. She’s taking the postponement exactly as a runner should: in stride. — as told to Ashley Mateo
Tokyo, the Long Way: Marathoner Molly Seidel on Taking Adversity in Stride
The 10K was previously my main event, and that kind of high-intensity training just kept getting me hurt. So [after qualifying for the Trials in the San Antonio Half Marathon], I went into the marathon with the mentality of doing it to get experience. I used to put so much pressure on myself to run hard or be great, but this time my mindset was more, “Let’s just see how it goes.” I felt confident I could handle the distance and the pace, and I tried not to make the race any bigger in my mind than it needed to be.
It’s easy when you’re injured to define yourself by that injury. I had this victim mentality, but now I try to think of those things as a period in my life instead of who I am. Part of that was growing up and realizing my injuries were a direct result of my actions—like, oh, the reason my bones keep breaking is because my nutrition is shit and I’m running too many miles. If you take ownership of your situation, it’s easier to work through it.
The Long Game
It was hard coming off the momentum of the Trials and not knowing when things are going to open up again. I usually structure my year around certain races and training cycles. Now, it’s just about rolling with the punches and needing to have a lot of flexibility until we have a better idea of what our future is going to look like. I’m still running, but I’m trying to think of this postponement like an injury. I once had six months where I couldn’t run after a surgery, and I got through that; I can get through this.