Molly's college years reflect hardships and hurdles, however, like always, she keeps running. Molly started out her collegiate career at Sewanee University where she ran on the track and cross country team. Deep down, however, she knew she could surpass the Division 3 level. After long hours of hard training and intense workouts, Molly persevered and made it to the Division 1 level at the school she grew up cheering for, The University of South Carolina. Everything looked great from the outside, however, ever since high school Molly had struggled with an eating disorder and arriving at USC was when she began to struggle the most. As a female runner, it can be hard to balance workouts and eating and because of this, many female runners struggle. Molly shared that, "overall the hardest part is recognizing you have a problem and addressing it. What most do not realize is how common this is when at the time it can feel like you are the only one in the world going through this." According to a recent study, 47% of elite female athletes in lean sports, sports that emphasize size, have experienced eating disorders which is more than double the percentage of comparable sports. This is obviously a common issue that is not discussed enough.
Molly shared that she hit rock bottom in the fall of 2020. She made it to a place where she was tired of going through the motions and was ready to get help. She emphasized that, "in order to fully get better, you have to want to get better." She went to a six week rehabilitation center where she knew she had a long, hard road ahead of her but knew she had to take the first step towards healing. “This was one of the hardest but greatest things I did,” she shares. Treatment gave her the first steps and put her back on track, however, when returning back on campus, relapse was difficult.
She soon began training again but was not competing. After many weeks off, stepping right back into Division 1 workouts were a challenge, however, even though she was not in her ideal shape, she only let this motivate her. She still struggled with the comparison factor but the more she went to her dietician, the more she knew the importance of being honest with the people around her and it became easier to talk to people about it all. She began to see a light at the end of the tunnel and now shares that, “I am in a way better place.” Everything is not perfect, and she still has the occasional relapse but has learned to learn from her mistakes and does not have the same shame factor that she used to. After years of hard work, blood, sweat, and tears, Molly is now competing at the same level when she was told she could never compete at the collegiate level again. The work and grit it takes to do this is almost unheard of, and yet she did not stop here. Molly ran the race of her life this year, qualifying her for the SEC Championship race in New York City this past January. If this does not inspire you, I do not know what will!
Molly now acts as a mental health advocator and courageously speaks on behalf of her experience to help others going through similar situations. In the fall, she even made several hundred green ribbons, which is the international symbol for mental health awareness, and passed them out to each runner to wear during the race in order to bring more awareness to mental health. As she stated that day, "I may not be the fastest runner on my team, but I felt like I made a difference that day." Just through this simple act, she had many people come up to her after the race to thank her for doing this.
Molly consistently goes out of her way to help others and make everyone feel known and is paving the way for female runners down the road. As she said, "I’m not trying to get better every day to be the best, I’m giving my best every day to get better."
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