Emily Sisson After Her American Record: “I’d like to medal and I’d like to try to win a Major”

by LetsRun.com
January 21, 2023

Last Sunday, Emily Sisson ran 66:52 to become the first American woman to go sub 67 minutes on a record-eligible course.

Emily After Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston 202
Emily After Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston 2023

The 66:52 was her third American record in less than a year. Last May, she ran 67:11 for her first AR in the half marathon, then in October ran a 2:18:29 marathon AR in Chicago.

Sisson joined us as the guest on this week's LetsRun.com Track Talk podcast.

The full podcast can be listened to in the player below or here on your favorite podcast app.

We also have video highlights (15 minutes out of our 28 minute podcast) of our talk with Sisson below and a full transcript of our talk for LetsRun.com Supporters Club members.

"The two really big goals I still have left are I'd like to medal and I'd like to try to win a Major"

Watch or listen above or keep reading below for a full transcript of our talk with Sisson for LetsRun.com Supporters Club members.

LetsRun.com: Our guest is an NCAA and US champion on the track, a US Olympian and the American record holder in the half marathon and marathon. She already held the American record in the half marathon before last weekend, but on Sunday in Houston, she ran 66:52 to take 19 seconds off her American record and become the first American woman under 67 minutes on a record-eligible course.

We're very pleased to be joined by Emily Sisson. Welcome to the Letsrun.com Track Talk podcast Emily.

Emily Sisson: Hi, thank you for having me.

LetsRun.com: We're joining you on Tuesday, two days out from the record. Are the quad's feeling good? Are you fully recovered from the effort yet?

Sisson: Yea, actually I do feel fully recovered and, I do think the shoes helped with that.  Lately, the last few races, I feel like I've bounced back from them pretty fast. And I felt that way after Chicago too, which I was just shocked by. That was just so different from my last two marathon experiences. So, yeah I feel good and feel excited to get training for my next marathon now.

LetsRun.com:  I feel like you're clockwork at this point. You got an American record, you just bounce back and then you hit another American record, bounce back, hit another American record, and now you've got a spring marathon coming up later this spring, which you can't announce yet.

I'm sure in due time we'll learn about that. Let's start with the race in Houston on Sunday, did everything go pretty typically before the race in terms of your pre-race routine? Did anything out of the ordinary stand out to you?

Sisson: No. Nothing too exciting. It was pretty standard. Nothing pre-race anyway.

Starting off Running Under 5 Minutes a Mile

LetsRun.com: So the race begins and Hiwot Gebremaryam who ended up winning the race, she takes it out very hard. I think it was about 15:14 through 5k and you and just Jessica Warner-Judd who you're running with get gapped. Did you expect to be running with her or were you surprised how quickly she took out?

Sisson: Yeah, I wasn't surprised. I had a feeling her and maybe Dibaba, we didn't know how fit she would be, that they could take off and start running really fast. And I talked to [coach] Ray [Treacy] before the race and he told me, just run about like 5:06s. But that if there wasn't a group to run with, that it'd be better me running, like 5:03, 5:04 minute miles and having a group [to run with] and doing that versus 5:06s solo. And we were definitely going faster [laughs] than that. But I remember we started off and the first mile was under five minutes and Ray told me that would probably happen, so not a big deal. But then we didn't really slow down that much. And I kept looking behind me and there wasn't really anyone there. So I kind of was just like, "I either have to commit to this pace and hope I don't die too much, or slow down too much. Eventually, I'll have to correct."

But either do that, or run a half marathon solo and I really didn't want to do 13 miles solo. So  I was like, "You know what, I'll try this. This feels okay. I'll slow down eventually at some point, and get into a rhythm, but for right now I want to run with a group of men." And Jess Judd was right there, and she was there for a while. She had a great, great race. I think she can run a lot faster if she gets into a more evenly-paced half marathon. So I think she'll see a lot of success on the roads too.

But yeah, I definitely started off faster than we were hoping, but I don't regret going with them.

LetsRun.com:  In Chicago you famously weren't aware of your pace during a lot of the race. Were you aware how quick you were going in Houston?

Sisson: Yeah, I was aware how quick I was going and I was looking at my watch every mile to see what I was hitting. I didn't look at my watch in Chicago, but, sometimes I do this thing where I say something, and in my head it makes perfect sense and then afterwards I get a lot of follow-up questions. In Chicago I did have two pacers so I didn't really have to worry so much, I'm like, "Well, that's their job." And they did a great job with that Brian [Harvey] and Jonny [Mellor]. And my job was just to see if that pace felt right. If I needed to go a little faster, slower, adjust from there and then I intentionally didn't want to look at my watch the first half in Chicago, but then I unintentionally shut it off, [laughs] like halfway through the race. So didn't really have a choice. It worked out fine. I saw the halfway split in Chicago and it really helped me kind of dial in and focus on how I was feeling in that race. But this one's different when you don't have pacers. You kind of do have to pay attention to that.

LetsRun.com: Which do you prefer? Having the constant feedback of seeing a split every mile or not really knowing what pace you're on, just having these people to guide you along?

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by LetsRun.com
January 21, 2023

Last Sunday, Emily Sisson ran 66:52 to become the first American woman to go sub 67 minutes on a record-eligible course.

Emily Sisson Half Marathon in Houston

Sisson in Houston (Kevin Morris)

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The 66:52 was her third American record in less than a year. Last May, she ran 67:11 for her first AR in the half marathon, then in October ran a 2:18:29 marathon AR in Chicago.

Sisson joined us as the guest on this week’s LetsRun.com Track Talk podcast.

The full podcast can be listened to in the player below or here on your favorite podcast app.

We also have video highlights (15 minutes out of our 28 minute podcast) of our talk with Sisson below and a full transcript of our talk for LetsRun.com Supporters Club members.

“The two really big goals I still have left are I’d like to medal and I’d like to try to win a Major”

Watch or listen above or keep reading below for a full transcript of our talk with Sisson for LetsRun.com Supporters Club members.

LetsRun.com: Our guest is an NCAA and US champion on the track, a US Olympian and the American record holder in the half marathon and marathon. She already held the American record in the half marathon before last weekend, but on Sunday in Houston, she ran 66:52 to take 19 seconds off her American record and become the first American woman under 67 minutes on a record-eligible course.

We’re very pleased to be joined by Emily Sisson. Welcome to the Letsrun.com Track Talk podcast Emily.

Emily Sisson: Hi, thank you for having me.

LetsRun.com: We’re joining you on Tuesday, two days out from the record. Are the quad’s feeling good? Are you fully recovered from the effort yet?

Sisson: Yea, actually I do feel fully recovered and, I do think the shoes helped with that.  Lately, the last few races, I feel like I’ve bounced back from them pretty fast. And I felt that way after Chicago too, which I was just shocked by. That was just so different from my last two marathon experiences. So, yeah I feel good and feel excited to get training for my next marathon now.

Emily Sisson En Route To Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston 2023
Emily Sisson En Route To Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston 2023

LetsRun.com:  I feel like you’re clockwork at this point. You got an American record, you just bounce back and then you hit another American record, bounce back, hit another American record, and now you’ve got a spring marathon coming up later this spring, which you can’t announce yet.

I’m sure in due time we’ll learn about that. Let’s start with the race in Houston on Sunday, did everything go pretty typically before the race in terms of your pre-race routine? Did anything out of the ordinary stand out to you?

Sisson: No. Nothing too exciting. It was pretty standard. Nothing pre-race anyway.

Starting off Running Under 5 Minutes a Mile

LetsRun.com: So the race begins and Hiwot Gebremaryam who ended up winning the race, she takes it out very hard. I think it was about 15:14 through 5k and you and just Jessica Warner-Judd who you’re running with get gapped. Did you expect to be running with her or were you surprised how quickly she took out?

Sisson: Yeah, I wasn’t surprised. I had a feeling her and maybe Dibaba, we didn’t know how fit she would be, that they could take off and start running really fast. And I talked to [coach] Ray [Treacy] before the race and he told me, just run about like 5:06s. But that if there wasn’t a group to run with, that it’d be better me running, like 5:03, 5:04 minute miles and having a group [to run with] and doing that versus 5:06s solo. And we were definitely going faster [laughs] than that. But I remember we started off and the first mile was under five minutes and Ray told me that would probably happen, so not a big deal. But then we didn’t really slow down that much. And I kept looking behind me and there wasn’t really anyone there. So I kind of was just like, “I either have to commit to this pace and hope I don’t die too much, or slow down too much. Eventually, I’ll have to correct.”

But either do that, or run a half marathon solo and I really didn’t want to do 13 miles solo. So  I was like, “You know what, I’ll try this. This feels okay. I’ll slow down eventually at some point, and get into a rhythm, but for right now I want to run with a group of men.” And Jess Judd was right there, and she was there for a while. She had a great, great race. I think she can run a lot faster if she gets into a more evenly-paced half marathon. So I think she’ll see a lot of success on the roads too.

But yeah, I definitely started off faster than we were hoping, but I don’t regret going with them.

LetsRun.com:  In Chicago you famously weren’t aware of your pace during a lot of the race. Were you aware how quick you were going in Houston?

American Record Holders: Emily Sisson, Keira D'Amato, Deena Kastor, Joan Samuelson
American Record Holders in Chicago: Emily Sisson, Keira D’Amato, Deena Kastor, Joan Samuelson (Kevin Morris photo)

Sisson: Yeah, I was aware how quick I was going and I was looking at my watch every mile to see what I was hitting. I didn’t look at my watch in Chicago, but, sometimes I do this thing where I say something, and in my head it makes perfect sense and then afterwards I get a lot of follow-up questions. In Chicago I did have two pacers so I didn’t really have to worry so much, I’m like, “Well, that’s their job.” And they did a great job with that Brian [Harvey] and Jonny [Mellor]. And my job was just to see if that pace felt right. If I needed to go a little faster, slower, adjust from there and then I intentionally didn’t want to look at my watch the first half in Chicago, but then I unintentionally shut it off, [laughs] like halfway through the race. So didn’t really have a choice. It worked out fine. I saw the halfway split in Chicago and it really helped me kind of dial in and focus on how I was feeling in that race. But this one’s different when you don’t have pacers. You kind of do have to pay attention to that.

LetsRun.com: Which do you prefer? Having the constant feedback of seeing a split every mile or not really knowing what pace you’re on, just having these people to guide you along?

Sisson: I really enjoyed Chicago. I liked just focusing on what felt right. Because I wasn’t being coy. I really, going into that race, just wanted to [give] like,  whatever my like maximum effort was that day, not maximum effort, whatever my best was on that day. I just wanted to reach that potential. And if that was, like, 2:19:40, I would have been happy with that, or if that was 2:19 flat, I would’ve been ecstatic with that. And so I really just focused on is this a pace that I can sustain, how am I feeling, can I pick it up? And throughout the race, a couple times, I was able to talk to Jonny and be like, “I can go a little bit faster,” in Chicago, and that was kind of fun, just going off feel.

So, but then, I don’t know. I guess Houston’s fun too because when you don’t have people pacing you, you have to almost use a different part of your brain, making decisions. “Do I stay with this pack? Do I try to catch that person in front of me?” It’s just different types of racing, I guess.

LetsRun.com: So overall Ray said something about 5:06 which is … he knows you pretty well, because that would be 66:51 and you ran 66:52.

Sisson: Yeah [laughs]. Yeah.

LetsRun.com: Obviously you got the American record. You’re the first American under 67 minutes on a record-eligible course so congratulations.

Sisson: Thank you.

How Does She Grade Her Performance?

LetsRun.com: But when you finished, what’d you think of that performance on the scale of zero to 10? How would you rate it? What were you thinking pre-race? Did you have an A goal, a B goal, a C goal?

Emily Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston

Emily Breaking US Half Marathon Record in Houston 2023 Houston, Texas, USA (Kevin Morris photo)

Sisson: I wanted to go for the win and then along the way if I won the race, I figured I’d set the record because it usually is won in under American record time. So my goal was to try to go for the win, but she was just too good on that day. I think that was a good race given how it went out. And I’m happy with where I’m at in training right now. I think that’s a good solid run. I’m not as fit as I was in Chicago. I’m not out of shape either, though, so I think for where I’m at right now in my training cycle that’s a good performance.

So I’d like to run faster and I’d like to get a little quicker at the half marathon. I just need to find one timing-wise that makes sense and I think a lot of American women can run faster in the half marathon and I’ve always wondered why most of our PRs really aren’t quite indicative of what we’re capable of. And I think the timing of Houston is a big, big part of that, because that’s the one fast half marathon [in the US]. And if you’re a marathoner, like you’re either just coming off a fall marathon or getting ready for a spring one. And a lot of track athletes, their man focus is just making the team, like USAs is their main goal.

But I think there are a lot of women that can go faster. I don’t think [laughs] I’m the only one that can go faster than that. So, maybe we should just make a Marathon Project Type course for the half marathon out in in Arizona and fly everyone out here [laughs].

How Fast Can She Go in the Half Marathon?

LetsRun.com: I think that would be awesome. Because like you said, a lot of people when they race the half marathon, it’s an inopportune time, it’s part of their preparation for a marathon, so that’s really the races they’re peaking for. So we were talking about this earlier on the podcast before you joined. Your American record in the marathon is four minutes and 25 seconds off the world record in the marathon. And your American record in the half is four minutes off of the world record in the half marathon. So it would certainly seem like there’s some time to be chopped off there, and you’ve said that too. Like how far do you think Americans can take that half marathon record? Do you think sub 66 is reasonable, or is it 66:30? Where do you think that could be if we get that Marathon Project Type race and everyone’s going for it?

Sisson: I definitely don’t want to set a limit or a ceiling. But I think based on people we’re competitive with – seeing someone like Eilish McColgan run like 66:30, I’m like, “Okay, I’m usually competitive with her.’ So that’s probably where I should be at. Or like Klosterhalfen breaking 66. We have Americans competitive with her. So yeah, I think in that ballpark is where we can get. And I don’t know if maybe Europe has more half marathons. I think they definitely do. I think people are capable of it, so, it’d be fun to see. But yeah, that’s my own main theory why a lot of Americans haven’t run faster. I don’t know if that’s accurate or not, but that’s the only thing I could think of.

I think that’s probably a good area to shoot for, the low 66 minutes.

LetsRun.com: Was this race like its own training cycle, or was this part of your next marathon cycle?

Sisson: No, it’s kind of weaving into my next marathon cycle. I came out of Chicago feeling really good. And training’s been, it’s been solid. It’s been fine. I’ve had little hiccups here and there, like unrelated to Chicago, just the typical getting sick, rolling an ankle type stuff, dealing with that stuff kept me from getting in too much of a rhythm. And I think that’s okay, though, because I have a big training block coming up, so I think just getting in some good, solid training right now is a good place to be in January. So, hopefully a smooth 12 weeks coming up. We’ll see how it unfolds.

How did she celebrate? Beer or Wine?

LetsRun.com: One more question about racing in Houston. How’d you celebrate? Are you have a glass of wine after the race person, are you a hamburger person? How do you celebrate these things?

Sisson: I usually go for a glass of wine, yeah. That’s usually my go-to. But after a marathon, I just want a hamburger, fries something like that. I actually don’t want anything sweet. I think it’s from just the fueling in the race and before because it’s just so much carbo loading that I don’t even want to look at a doughnut afterwards. I just want fries [laughs] and my wine. [laughs]

LetsRun.com: So what was the wine of choice in Houston, do you remember?

Sisson: It was Malbec.

LetsRun.com: Well, that’s my wife’s favorite red.

Sisson: Really?

LetsRun.com: Yeah. She’s told me when I got to the wine store … I don’t drink wine. Tell me if this is true…. if she drinks a cab, she’s “Get an expensive one.” If it’s Malbec, she’s “Don’t waste your money on the expensive one. I like it as cheap as you want to get it. ” That didn’t make sense to me, but …

Sisson: [laughs] I don’t know about that, but I have an app. It’s called Vivino and they take a picture of a bottle of wine and then it has a rating. And so I do different price ranges. And sometimes the cheaper one actually is rated higher than the more expensive one.

LetsRun.com: I have a similar app for for beer. It’s called Untapped. So I know exactly what you mean.

LetsRun.com: I was going to try to figure out what marathon might be in 12 weeks. I found one that’s in 13. I’m not going to try to get you to reveal it on the show but …

Sisson: [laughs]

Her Spring Marathon and Racing Hilly Courses and the Paris Olympic Marathon Course

LetsRun.com: It sounds like you’re running an overseas marathon and not doing Boston. Is that because of the hills? Boston is a hilly course. Historically, you haven’t liked the hills.

Explain the rationale behind that.

Sisson: I think I’m hesitant because I just don’t want to get the story stuck in my head that I don’t like hills. I think Boston is probably the one course I will have to prepare for the most with the hills. It probably won’t come the most naturally to me. But I have run well on hilly courses in the past, but not for marathons [laughs], so … And I don’t know if the hills makes a big difference, like running a hilly 6K race or something, you’re just not out there for that long. Maybe the hills don’t beat you up quite as much as they do over a half marathon versus the marathon.

But yeah, I think we did choose a flat one for the spring and this year especially probably will stay away from hills. And it’s more not because I don’t think I can run well on them because Ray and I do think I can, if I train for it, I think I could run well in New York if I prepare for it. But it’s more I recover really a lot better from flat courses if I go in healthy anyway. And because for me, I’m so quad dominant. That’s my [laughs] my weakness. And so, coming off any hilly race, even if it’s just like the New Haven 20K my quads’ll be beat up from the downhills. So, with it being an Olympic year next year, recovery and kind of just trying to stay healthy is a big, big focus of ours.

LetsRun.com: Obviously you still have to make the team, but they have revealed the Olympic marathon course. It is fairly hilly in that middle section. Have you looked at it at all? Do you have any thoughts on the Olympic marathon course in Paris next year?

Sisson: I looked at it and I read it in feet instead of meters at first, so I was like, “Oh, that’s not so bad.” [laughs] and then I realized it was meters and I was like, “Oh. [laughs] That’s actually … That looks tough.” I’m curious about that because it is extreme and that’s the one thing with marathons that makes me a little nervous. Anything that’s too extreme, I’m like, “Oh,” like you just don’t really know until you’re out there how you’ll handle it. But the one positive thing I would try to focus on if I made the team is Ray has told me in the past, he thinks I can run hills, as long as I have flat stretches of road to recover before and after. And you do, you have a good bit of the middle of the course is pretty hilly and so a lot of climbing, but it’s not like in Atlanta, where it was constantly rolling.

So, I mean, that’s what I hope. I will have to do some training if I were to make it. And that would probably give me better feedback. But yeah, I think the rolling hills of Atlanta, was what he said, probably got me more than anything, not the amount of climbing. There was just no flat [laughs] … There was not one flat part. [laughs]

Olympic Marathon Course Elevation Profile
Olympic Marathon Course Elevation Profile (meters)

LetsRun.com: I remember seeing that quote. He said it was just certain type of hills. We got the elevation chart up on the screen now. It’s 15K totally flat, then you go uphill for 5K, and then you come down here for 1K, then flat for 7K, uphill for 2K, downhill, and then … I don’t know. I think 32, 33 kilometers of it is totally flat, so …

Sisson: Yeah. It will be interesting [laughs].

Do American Marathons Pay More than Foreign Ones?

LetsRun.com: Plus, if you want to make a big move, is someone really going to blast it before you even get to halfway? So, I would think people might be cautious on that hilly part, which might be nice. And then, it would be interesting to see on that second big hill, approaching 30K. That might be a natural spot, obviously, for somebody to try to break things open. I’m curious when you pick an overseas marathon, is that a financial hit? Would an American marathon pay more or is it really not that much of a difference?

Sisson: No, the American ones will pay more, yeah, definitely. And I do want to do all the majors. So I do want to do Boston. I want to do New York. I just have to time it right for what my big goals are and kind of work back from that. So right now we’re working back from the Olympic trials, so the overseas one made the most sense in our plan right now. But yeah, it is a little bit of a financial hit, but I do feel like we’re in a good enough place that we don’t have to always choose marathons based on what’s paying the most. Our approach is more just focus on running well and then that part will follow. So don’t focus on just always trying to get the biggest appearance fee if it’s not going to be the best race result or may set you up poorly for the Trials. That’s kind of how we operate, I guess.

Sisson’s 2 Big Goals

LetsRun.com: You got all these American records. What motivates you? What do you want to do in this next marathon? What’s your big goal there? Is it to win it, to run another American record? And for the rest of your career, what is the big goal?

Sisson: For this next one, my goal is to be … it’s a really good field, so, I want to be able to compete with that field and hang in there. I know what kind of pace they’re going to go out at. And I need to get really fit to be able to do it. But my goal is to run faster, be competitive with that field. But then my big career goals … I feel like, luckily I have been able to do a lot of the things I’ve hoped to do which is kind of nice. And the two really big goals I still have left are I’d like to medal and I’d like to try to win a Major. And those are the two things that I feel like motivate me the most.

And, I’m only 31 and people are running well into their late-30s, actually early-40s now [laughs] so I’m hoping if I just keep trying maybe one day it’ll click. But I could work really hard and accomplish neither of those things because they’re so hard to do. But what probably motivates me the most, are those two big goals.

Kids, Maternity Leave, and the Choices Women Make

LetsRun.com: Look at Keira D’Amato. Pretty amazing what she’s doing in her late-30s. But, one thing that’s gotten a lot of publicity, and I think in a good way, over the last decade or so, really, has been the push for women to get more rights like maternity leave, Alysia Montaño really led the way. Allyson Felix jumped on board. Lauren Fleshman has this new book out about the different challenges that women face. Have you thought about that, like down the road “Hey, do I want to have a family? If so, do I want to have my own, or adoption?” That’s just a thing that men don’t have to think about, but you’ve got some good role models in Molly Huddle and Kim Smith, that did have children. Is that something that’s crossed your mind?

Sisson: Yeah, it’s definitely something we talk about because especially as a distance runner, often our prime years, well, people are stretching it later and later, people are running really well into their late-30s, like we said. But oftentimes your peak years in running overlap with when you want to have kids [laughs]. So, it is something my husband and I have talked about, even like early on, because we knew this was the career that I was taking. And I’m really lucky that I have people like Molly Huddle, I have Kim Smith, Roisin McGettigan. I have a lot of older teammates that I looked up to in the past and I can go to with questions about this.

And I’m really thankful for all the work people have done to earn more maternity rights for women because that benefits athletes like me and the younger women coming up. We do want to have our own families some day, and it’s nice to not have that stress so much. I was reading about Lauren’s book and also, being able just to see the transparency that Molly shares .

It’s nice being able to see a realistic comeback after having a child. Like seeing Molly share with all of her followers on Instagram “This is week 12 post childbirth, and this is what I’m doing.” And just getting to see that natural kind of progression back to fitness and then see her have a great run like she did in Houston. It’s inspiring for me to see and it kind of helps me realize you can have both.

So, I kind of think I trailed off there [laughs] but I think I might’ve answered your question.

Beating Tirunesh Dibaba

LetsRun.com: Yeah, that was great. Speaking of which, you beat a three-time mom and one of the greatest runners in history, in Houston, Tirunesh Dibaba. Was that nice to add to the bucket list?

Emily Sisson 2:18:29 American Marathon Record
Emily Sisson 2:18:29 American Marathon Record (Kevin Morris)

Sisson: I mean she’s not at her her best right now, so it’s more … It was cool seeing her in-person, just because she’s accomplished so much. I did know in the last four years she’s had three kids, so we didn’t really know what her fitness was going to be because most of the past four years, she hasn’t been running probably very much. But she’s one of the best ever so you don’t ever count someone like her out. She’s one of those people that is just so talented, one of the greatest ever that you never know where she’s going to be at.

So it was cool actually just seeing her and meeting her, but she’s not at her best right now.

Women’s Marathoning Going to Another Level in 2022

LetsRun.com: We’re at an interesting time in the women’s marathon, probably coming off of the greatest year in the history of the women’s marathon. You ran 2:18:29 in Chicago last year. On January 1, 2022, that would’ve put you number 14 all-time. But it only put you number 20 on the 2022 world list. That’s how fast this event was last year. And obviously the shoes help, compared to five or six years ago. But does that alone explain this explosion? Do you have any theories on why suddenly we’re seeing 2:14s, 2:15s, 2:16s with regularity in this event?

Sisson: It just seems like there’s more depth because the top times haven’t dropped as much. The world record hasn’t. But there’s just so many more sub 2:19, sub 2:20 women out there. And I’m sure the shoes definitely help, but I don’t know. Do you think more people are just moving up to the marathon earlier in their careers?

LetsRun.com: Yeah, I don’t know. We couldn’t really figure it because there’s not been a similar bump on the men’s side and I don’t know if it’s just there’s more Kenyan and Ethiopian women taking it up, but it’s not limited to that country, because obviously you and Keira also broke the American records last year. I don’t know. That’s kind of why I was asking you if you had any theories, because we can’t really figure out.

Sisson: It’s one of those things I can’t quite figure out either. Like the only thing I can think of is more people are moving up. More people are moving up in general earlier. Like how old is [Letesenbet] Gidey, she’s quite young, isn’t she?

LetsRun.com: Yeah, she’s probably 23 or 24, right?

Sisson: I don’t think people moved up that early before, did they? And so there’s more, maybe more people like her that still could be running really fast on the track but is then also reaching the marathon now. Actually, I don’t know. I don’t have an answer for that one, but I find it interesting too.

LetsRun.com: Do you feel pressure as just an American distance runner to kind of raise the game and to keep up with them? Because 2:18 a few years ago, that would’ve been one of the very best in the world. And you got second in a world marathon major running it, so it’s not exactly chopped liver. But you were also four minutes behind the winner in that race. So do you feel pressure as an American to kind of keep stepping it up and to catch up with these women up front?

Sisson: A little bit, but then I also know I can only improve as much as I can improve, if that makes sense.

Like I can only be as good as I’m ever capable of. And I think I can run faster than 2:18:29. I don’t think I could’ve run faster on the day. I think that was as fast as I could go. But I do think I can run faster, and I do think I can be competitive. But, I don’t know where my ceiling is. And I don’t want to put a limit on it or anything, but I guess I’m focusing on what can I do to stay healthy, to do as much training as I can so that I can reach that potential, if that makes sense. And whatever that is, that is. And maybe my best bet for trying to win a marathon major isn’t then a flat, fast course. Or maybe I do keep showing up and maybe just have to be kind of lucky on the day.

I don’t know. But I do think I can keep improving. But I don’t think to myself, “Well, how can I run 2:15 pace,” because that’s not how you improve. It’s, “How can I just get faster than I am today?” and so that’s how I look at things.

LetsRun.com: That seems like a very smart approach because that’s what we saw the previous generation of American women, whether it was Shalane Flanagan winning New York, Des Linden winning Boston, Amy Cragg medaling at Worlds, they would just get themselves in as good shape as possible and keep taking their shots, and eventually all three of them got one of those big rewards. So I think that makes sense to take the same approach.

Sisson: They’ve been inspiring women to look up to. I was there when both Des and Shalane won. And both those days were just so cool. Luckily we’ve had a lot of women to look up to . They’ve been doing great things right now.

Rest of 2023 Plans

LetsRun.com: We’ll try to get you out of here soon. We promised you 25 minutes and we’re already over that. So one or two more questions. But, I’m wondering if you’re counting back from the Trials, you must kind of have the rest of the year after this spring marathon planned out. What does that look like? Is it going to be any track races? Are you going to do another fall marathon before the trials? What are you thinking?

Sisson: So Ray told me not to decide on a fall marathon until after … I always want to say the marathon I’m doing [laughs] … until after my spring marathon. So he said we can choose in May if I’m going to do a late summer or early fall marathon, or if I just want to wait till the trials. So he just wants to see how I come out of the spring one. He said if I come out of it as well I did Chicago, then I can definitely do one. And I’d like to, so I’m hoping I do. And then if not, I’ll just get on the roads and maybe do some road 10Ks, maybe fly to Europe for a fast half marathon. I’d get back on the track. Yeah, I do like the track. I just found full track seasons beat up my body a little too much, so I wouldn’t do that and I can’t do that if I’m doing a spring marathon anyway.

I think I kind of just have to wait and see. But I’m open to a lot of things.

LetsRun.com: World half, would that appeal to you in Latvia, at the end of September?

Sisson: I forgot about that one. Yeah, that’d appeal to me, depending on what we decide to do.

LetsRun.com: Do you feel like the marathon’s your best event? Ray told us years ago when you were in college you would be a good marathoner. But do you feel like you’re better at the marathon than the half marathon and the 10K and which do you prefer?

Sisson: I like switching it up, I really do. I don’t have a favorite event. Time wise, it probably is my best, relative to all my other PRs, but it’s probably still too early to say. Because I made an an Olympic team on the track in the 10K, so, I guess it depends on how you define what’s the best or what’s the most successful. We’ll see, I guess. We’ll know at the end of my career.

LetsRun.com: All right. Well Emily, we thank you so much for joining us. We covered everything we wanted to go over. And obviously, congratulations again on another incredible run in Houston last weekend. And best of luck this spring. I’m sure we’ll all be excited to follow whatever marathon you end up running.

Sisson: Thank you.

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