Molly Seidel's journey to becoming an elite long-distance runner is anything but ordinary. Born into a family with no prior running background, Molly has defied expectations and carved her own path in the world of professional athletics. But what truly sets Molly apart is her unwavering commitment to taking care of her body and listening to it—a philosophy that has allowed her to chase her dreams while staying happy and healthy.
A Different Beginning
"I don't come from a running family; neither of my parents run," Molly shares. "They don't understand this; it still blows my mom's mind that I have to run twice a day, every day." Molly's story begins with a unique challenge: pursuing a passion that her family couldn't quite comprehend. But she knew that running was her calling, and she was determined to follow it.
The Importance of Support
Despite her family's initial puzzlement, Molly feels incredibly lucky to have people in her life who prioritize her happiness and health over her race results. "They just want me to be happy and healthy because they know if I'm happy and healthy, I'll race well," Molly explains. This unwavering support system has been instrumental in her journey.
A Childhood Dream to College Success
From an early age, Molly's heart was set on Olympic gold. In fourth grade, she wrote on a little card, "I wish I'll go to the Olympics and win a gold medal." Her dream was set, and she was determined to make it a reality.
Molly's journey took her to University Lake School in Harlan, Wisconsin, where she achieved remarkable success. She won 12 state titles and even secured a national cross-country championship during her high school years. Her success continued into college at the University of Notre Dame, where she majored in biological anthropology and pre-med. During her college years, she won four national titles in cross country and indoor and outdoor track events.
The Olympic Dream
Molly emphasizes that running at the Olympics is not something you decide to do lightly. "You have to focus your entire life around this goal," she says. "Everything. It takes your entire life to do this." Her dedication and passion for the sport shine through her words.
The Body as an Instrument
Throughout her career, Molly has learned that her body is like an instrument that requires precise tuning. "You have to have an incredible toolbox of things to keep your body moving every single day," she explains. This includes rigorous pre- and post-run mobility exercises and stretches tailored to her body's specific needs.
A Finite Perspective and Strategic Shift
Molly's journey has been punctuated by injuries and challenges, which have shaped her approach to running. "I've always seen my running career as a very finite thing," she admits. This perspective has fueled her determination to give her all to the sport while she can.
As she matures as an athlete, Molly recognizes the need for a more strategic and body-conscious approach to her training. "I need to work with my body rather than fight against it," she declares. Her goal now is to be the healthiest version of herself, even if it means not necessarily winning medals or making the Olympics.
Sailing and Racing Brain
Molly's childhood involvement in sailing taught her valuable lessons about strategy and tactics, which she applies to her running. "I really thrive in tactical environments," she notes. For her, running isn't just about speed; it's about making smart choices and setting up races strategically.
The Road Ahead
Molly envisions continuing her running career well into her 30s and 40s, but with a different mindset. She plans to be kinder to her body and work in harmony with it. "I'm going to try and be the healthiest version of me, and I'm just going to see where that ends up," she says.
Chicago Marathon and Beyond
Molly's upcoming race in the Chicago Marathon holds special significance. It's her first major race in a while and in many ways her 'hometown race.' Her primary goal is to use it as a building block for the Olympic trials. She's focused on the big picture—qualifying for the Olympics—while listening closely to her body's needs.
Molly Seidel's story is a testament to the power of determination, support, and, most importantly, listening to your body. Her journey, from a non-running family to the brink of Olympic qualification, is a remarkable one. Molly's wisdom lies in her understanding that true success in sports comes from being in harmony with your body and taking a long-term view of your goals.
As she continues her running career, we can all learn from Molly's philosophy: prioritize your well-being, and the rest will follow.