Everyone’s Chasing Molly Huddle
By: Cait Chock
Assigning a word to Molly Huddle this year, ‘untouchable’ may be most fitting. As 2014 presented itself to be an ‘off’ year in the track circuit, many athletes took the opportunity to chase fast times and hit the roads. Huddle accomplished both in nearly unrivaled fashion.
Looking at her spread of titles, course records, event records, and personal records, the most obvious place to start is Monaco, her 14:42.64 American Record for 5k. In 2010 Huddle shaved fractions off of the American Record, in 2014 she cut off more than two seconds. A time which surprised even the runner herself.
Molly Huddle, Oakley Mini 10k, June 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
Huddle wrote an exceptional blog post recounting that night. The glimpse into the psyche of our best American 5k’er is refreshingly open and raw: racing hurts, everyone gets nervous, everyone must constantly push the doubts out of their mind. “So, being a known ‘worrier’, I do have strategies for staying calm and focused before and during a race, but I have actually learned not to fight the anxiety too much as it seems to weirdly put me in my IZOF [Individual Zone of Optimal Functioning- thanks to training partner Roisin McGettigan for the sports psych education]. Before a race I like to think of ways to deal with a few different race scenarios to feel prepared, write out splits to keep me focused, and usually I pick a simple motivator to tell myself during the race.”
Despite being on top Molly has a special gift of humanizing herself in a unique way that makes her relatable, she’s quite funny even. Her Instagram feed shows her pre-race ritual of picking out a special nail polish color; you could imagine having a ‘normal’ conversation with this exponentially above normal runner.
Molly Huddle, Rome 2014, photo by PhotoRun.net
I say a unique way, because despite putting you at ease, one never forgets that she is freaking fierce when the gun goes off.
Outside of that shiny new 5k PR Molly also lowered her 10k mark down to 30:47. Rather than go back to Europe for a second track season, she took to the roads. Blitzing a 31:37 at the New York Mini 10k in June she surpassed Mary Decker’s record for an all-women’s U.S. road race, beating a tough field. Before four-peating a win at the U.S. 5k Road Championships she won the U.S. 20k Road Championships, demonstrating a transition to the longer events.
Interestingly enough not much has changed this year for the harrier training-wise, “I am doing slightly more mileage and slightly more volume on workout days in the winter and early season, but the paces aren’t too much faster or different than what I have done in years prior,” honest and humble, Huddle. Though she does give herself some credit, “I am a bit better at working out at altitude since 2010, but not by much!”
As part of the power-house post-collegiate Providence-based training group coached by Ray Treacy [other members include Amy Hastings, Kim Smith, and Roisin McGettigan], Ray’s style for his professionals is no-frills and ‘old school’. They don’t do any drills or structured core routines, he’s not there to oversee many of their workouts, and it hinges upon personal accountability. A situation that works perfectly as each of the women are driven enough themselves. “We meet for almost all long and easy run days and ideally we meet for workouts, but our schedules are very individualized based on races and events…I have done a lot of workouts alone or with my husband, which helps.”
Molly Huddle in Saucony ad, December 2014
Their training may be about the ‘basics’, but they’re taken plenty seriously. “There is a long run, tempo and track workout in there and the mileage is towards the higher side,” shares Huddle. Opting for a 12-day cycle versus a seven, “there are a few more easy run days than others may have but our workouts can be pretty hard so we need it.”
Huddle won the U.S. 5k Championships with a definitive gear-change, charging up the last hill, “I knew I had an advantage having done it 6 times before as it’s a tricky finishing stretch and actually shorter than it looks.” Demonstrating that this strength-runner possesses the speed and power to win with a closing move. Over the years her times, race tactics, and execution have all been sharpened, hopefully dulling the ‘worrier’ a bit in that regard.
But strength is clearly her strength. In moving past the 10k distance Huddle feels quite comfortable up through the 7-mile range, in getting closer to the half marathon, “I feel I have a better handle on the 10k distance this year but with the half marathon I seem to be coming up 2-3 miles short on strength at both NYC half and New Haven, so I can work on that for sure!”
Huddle, Daska, Oakley Mini-10k, June 2014,
photo by PhotoRun.net
All of that comes with time and more racing experience. Which brings us to the question everyone seems to be asking, ‘When will she run a marathon?’ In good time, People, in good time. When that time comes her training partners will facilitate perfect introductions, “Amy and I worked out together through June but haven’t worked out together since her build up for Chicago started-which I miss.” But there’s still a track to be setting fire to, “All my focus is on running better than I have at the World Championships on the track next year.”
Huddle will be battled Mamitu Daska and Betsy Saina at the BAA Half, finishing third. Molly Huddle will finish her season this weekend, with her eye focused for a repeat title at the U.S. 12k Championships, “I’ve done quite a lot of road races around the 6-7 mile distance so I feel ready for it and the challenging field it may bring, though I don’t have a time goal in mind. I am also not taking a break until the end of November so I will be glad to see that finish line!”
It may have been an ‘off’ year in regards to the track circuit, but in every way possible Molly Huddle has been ‘on’. Giving her two more years to get even better. “I’d love to represent USA on a second Olympic team in 2016 in either 5000 or 10,000, and I’d like to try a marathon before or after Rio, but need to see how the track treats me first.”
Dare I say I do believe that track will be treating her just fine.
For More on Molly Huddle from RunBlogRun:
Molly Huddle Four Peats CVS Health Downtown 5k, from EME News, note by Larry Eder (Sept 2014)
Two Seconds, No Finish Clock Picture, but Satisfaction: Molly Huddle breaks her own AR at 5,000 meters, by Larry Eder (July 2014)
Molly Huddle, RunBlogRun June Athlete of the Month: (posted July 2014)
Molly Huddle Wins Oakley Mini 10k, her biggest road victory yet, by Larry Eder
Caitlin Chock (caitchock.com) set the then National High School 5k Record (15:52.88) in 2004. A freelance writer, artist, and designer she writes about all things running and founded Ezzere, her own line of running shirts (www.ezzere.com). You can read more, see her running comics, and her shirts at her website.