Molly Beckwith is a name that is being heard more often in the world of track and field. The first time her name came up this season is when she led and won the 800 meters at the Mt. Sac Relays (2:00.34) and then taking the win in a PB at the Penn Relays in the mile. This past weekend she won 800 meters at the Billy Haynes Classic in 2:01.70. She will compete in Doha, Qatar this Saturday.
Her and her coach recently discussed this start to the season “I ran pretty fast, pretty earlier. 2:00 flat isn’t actually too fast right now,” she further explains, “Looking at the bigger picture that I’m trying to accomplish is more than that. 2:00 is a good starting point for me because I know 1:58 is just around the corner and potentially faster than 1:58 is in my future. I don’t know if that is in my future for this season or not but a good beginning of my season was leading a whole race running and winning in 2:00 flat.”
Of course the bigger picture for this season is making the Olympic team and just from previous year’s results, it appears that one will need to break 2:00 to make the team and maybe even to make the final. “I think my goal for this season was to run under 2 minutes as many times as I could before I get to the Olympic trials” Molly states and goes on to explain, “I need to know that running 2:00 flat is a realistic day for me even if I don’t feel great. I think I’ll have a lot better shot at making the team.”
Molly does not see the PB in the mile as a big surprise mostly due to changes from last year to this year. “I’ve noticed a change in myself and gotten it from a few other people that I have a lot more confidence now” she said.
Molly has begun to see a sports psychologist who has helped her see that she cannot control what others are doing and has changed her race mentality. “I’ve become a lot more selfish in terms what I think about before a race, what I think about at practice and what I think about off the track. I’m thinking about myself and what I need to do.” She goes on to explain, “I’ve made a big point this year to really focus on myself. And look at other people and their successes, say that is awesome and if they can do it I can do it.”
Another one of these changes for Molly was building confidence “I sat down and looked at what needed to change and it was everything I was doing. I needed to build confidence.” For Molly, the confidence needed to come from how she compared to herself to other runners, physically and the knowledge that she could run fast day in and day out. For her this meant she had to lean up. Molly saw a sports nutritionist and has lost a substantial amount of fat. The nutritionist taught her correct portion control and not to fill herself to the brim. The other change in her diet came from knowing when to eat i.e. eating right after she worked out to replenish her carbohydrates. Molly acknowledges that her eating habits before might have been from her soccer past, “As a soccer player it was working but as a professional track athlete it wasn’t” she said.
“It has really given me a lot of confidence walking onto the track and knowing I have put everything into place, finally. Last there was something missing both physically and mentally and I think that was a big part of it” she states.
Change is nothing new for Molly. She had received a scholarship to play soccer her freshman year at Indiana University. After four knee surgeries, the doctor seeing how much pain she was in and how unhappy she was advised her against returning to soccer. Molly decided to walk onto the track team.
“The first few months were the most disastrous few months ever. I had a coach pull me aside after week one, she said she didn’t think this was a good idea for me to do. She didn’t see me going very far in the sport. I told her to wait, hold on, and just give me a track season. I just have to get out of this soccer shape into this track shape because they are two different sports. She trusted me and gave me a chance” she explains.
By sophomore year she was seeing success placing at indoor big 10s. After a coaching change, Molly began to train as an 800 meter runner. She ran her first 800 meters in 2:14 and by her junior year she felt like she was running well collegiately with a 2:06. Molly says it was a complete lifestyle change from soccer to track.
“There was so much more responsibility with track. When you were on the soccer team, you had to go practice every day at 3:00 and morning lifting at 6:00. It was just structured and you never did more than what you were supposed to do because that is what everybody else was doing because you were on the team” she explains. Once on the track team, she realized that her success was up to herself, “I couldn’t depend on anybody else for my success, just me”.
While transitioning from soccer to track was a dramatic lifestyle change, Molly has also had to transition from college athlete to pro athlete. This meant different type of injuries and lessons. This past fall she had a stress fracture which frustrated her due to doctors not giving her a yes or no answer unlike when she had her ACL tears. She sought advice from other pro runners who had dealt with the same problems finding some of the best advice from another Saucony athlete, Molly Huddle, who told her, “Honestly, you have to be positive about it and sometimes they are blessing in disguise, obviously your body needed rest.” Molly Beckwith has come back stronger and says, “It ended up being a blessing disguise”.
Another lesson that Molly has slowly learned, “SOMETIMES less is more” she begins “I thought when I graduated college that even if I felt terrible, I still needed to do my six mile run”. Though she says this where the sometimes comes in, when in the training phase and doing two a days the body is going to feel like that. “But when you get to a point in your season where all you need to do is race well. In that circumstance that is when less is more” she explains. Molly goes on to explain that sometimes your body is going to benefit from a different work-out or more rest. If she hadn’t learned that lesson, she could have been more injured and not peaking at the right time.