Number Cruncher: Exclusive Interview With Molly Huddle

Molly Huddle Photo:

Molly Huddle has run 14:51.84 for 5,000 meters so far this season. Photo:

Former Notre Dame standout breaking through barriers in a big way.

Interview by: Duncan Larkin

In the sport of track & field, the numbers alone can be quite telling. Heading into this year’s summer track season, former Notre Dame standout Molly Huddle’s 5,000-meter personal best was 15:17. In a series of breakthrough races so far in 2010, she’s whittled that time down to 14:51.84. That’s a 26-second improvement at a distance where PB’s are rare–and when they do come, usually arrive in single-digit seconds.

Huddle started making dents at the Mt. Sac Relays in April, running 15:05. And just last month at the Paris Diamond League meeting, she smashed the 15-minute barrier for the first time, becoming the fourth-fastest American woman over 5,000 meters in the process.

Upon returning to her home in Providence, Rhode Island after her big breakthrough in Paris, Huddle was expected to race the Bix 7 in Davenport, Iowa on July 24, but withdrew her name from the start list at the last minute to rest up for another series of high-quality European track races in August. caught up with Huddle earlier this week before she embarked on a quest to inch another second or two closer to Shalane Flanagan’s 5,000-meter American Record of 14:44.80. After your 5K PR in Paris, you flew home for some down time. How are you feeling after this rest period?

Molly Huddle: Good. I came off my 5K race pretty well. I kind of wanted to come home to train a little bit, because I was racing and not doing much in-between, but yeah, everything is healthy. I recovered pretty well from it. I’m very happy with it.

You are heading to Stockholm (Diamond League Meeting on August 6), correct?

No. I’m actually not running in Stockholm. I’m going to compete in London (August 13) and Brussels (August 27) instead.

You pulled out of the Bix 7 because you wanted to keep racing in Europe. Any regrets for making that decision?

I do. I have huge regrets. I think it would have been a tossup as to who would have won: me or Lisa [Koll]. I had a lot of fun in last year’s Bix. I really liked it and said I would be back. I even said that if I skipped any races this year, it wouldn’t be that one, but I was kind of advised by a few different people to choose one or the other. I might not have recovered from a 14:51 and a hard effort at Bix when I went back to Europe. It was hard to watch the race results come up, but I definitely would have had to run really hard with Lisa in there. It was hit or miss whether or not I could come off of it ok to go back to Europe.

What kind of races are you entering on the second half of your European tour?

I’m going to be in 5Ks. I actually thought I might have been in a 3K or a 5K, but Brussels and London are 5Ks, so I’ll be doing two in those meets and then a 5K at the Continental Cup ten days after Brussels. These are a lot of high quality races. It could go well or I could start to get tired. We’ll just have to wait and see what happens.

You have knocked huge chunks of time off your 5K PR. What are some factors behind that improvement?

In college, I was stuck at 15:30 for pretty much five years and then my first year as a pro, I switched over to Ray [Treacy] and I ran 15:17 that summer. I think he knows how to work with every type of athlete. He saw that I was tired and needed to do some shorter stuff and so he kind of brought the best race out of me. Then, in between, I got injured once or twice, so that’s kind of always been my problem—even in college. I’ve had about 17 months now without injury. I really even haven’t had to take a day off for injury for the past year and a half. I think that is the main thing. I’ve been able to get a full training plan in, which is a full year of what Ray wants me to do. He’s a great coach, especially in the 5K and 10K distances. There are some really great women to train with here. I think it’s the combination of all those things.

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