Emily Sisson, Olympic Marathon Trials favorite, is READY for Saturday

"I feel fit and I feel healthy. With a marathon, that's not everything, but those are two big parts of it."

Emily Sisson is the American record holder (2:18:29) in the marathon and the pre-race favorite to win the 2024 US Olympic Marathon Trials.

At the time of publication, 64.2% of you are picking her to win the Trials in the LRC $20,024 Prediction Contest Sponsored by Relay. (You can still enter here)

Who will win women’s race?
Emily Sisson 64.2 %
Betsy Saina 25.6 %
Keira D’Amato 6.2 %
Others 4%

Sisson talked to LRC this week via video conference, and by all accounts her buildup for Orlando has gone very well.

The full video of the talk is below with highlights below that.

Article continues below player.

“Everything’s been better, all the long runs, all the tempos, and actually my long interval workouts, those have actually been better than they’ve been before.”

When Sisson was asked to compare her fitness and buildup to the 2022 Bank of America Chicago Marathon where she broke the American record, she said:

Everything’s been better, all the long runs, all the tempos, and actually my long interval workouts, those have actually been better than they’ve been before.

The workouts like on paper, like the times they’re all better. I think like I get confidence from that, but also just I’m feeling good and I’m feeling strong. So the training’s been good.

Sisson ran a 30:52 time trial on the roads in Arizona, which is just slightly slower than her official track PB of 30:49. Sisson, unlike Trials #2 contender Betsy Saina who ran a workout with 12 male pacers in Kenya, ran the workout all alone although her husband Shane was next to her on a bike. Sisson wasn’t blown away by almost setting a 10k PR in practice, as she said her track PR should be much faster. But she was pleased she could run that pace by herself. “I was happy that I was able to push myself that hard on my own,” she said.

Lessons from Chicago 2023

Chicago 2023 didn’t go as well as Chicago 2022 for Sisson, as she developed a side stitch later in the race and ran 2:22:09 for 7th place.

Sisson now views the Chicago 2023 setback as a positive experience as she learned from it. “We found some videos early on in Chicago and I just looked a little less fluid this past fall than I did in my 2022 Chicago.  It was really subtle, like there was a little bit more movement in my upper body. So, we’re trying to like stay on top of that a bit more this time just to make sure nothing like a side stitch or anything else breaks down again,” she said, adding she worked with chiropractor John Ball.

Respect for the competition and the marathon distance

Sisson enters the Trials not only fit but healthy. When asked whether she worries about the other competitors in the race, she said, “It’s not that I don’t worry about my competitors. It’s not that I don’t think about them, but, I just feel like the marathon’s different than like a half marathon or a 10k. When I go into those races, I’m just trying to be as fit as I can and try to be fitter than my other competitors. But in the marathon, you are racing your other competitors, but you’re also racing the marathon itself. So it doesn’t matter, what your competitors are doing.”

“I feel fit and I feel healthy. With a marathon, that’s not everything, but those are two big parts of it. So I am happy with that. I’m happy with how training went,” Sisson said.

Getting a Real Olympic Experience

While Sisson made the 2020 Olympic in the 10,000m, she,  like Aliphine Tuliamuk, said she missed out on the traditional Olympic experience because of the Covid protocols.  She’d like to get another shot at it. “Being an Olympian is like the biggest dream,” she said of a goal that started when she watched Olympic gymnastics with her mom as a kid.

“I was so thankful they happened in 2021, but it was definitely a different Olympic experience than Olympics prior. So I’d love to get back there.”

Of Sisson’s 5 marathons, the only one that went poorly was the 2020 Olympic Marathon Trials in Atlanta where she dropped out.

Now with some time to reflect, Sisson has a better picture of what she think went wrong. “I think I went too hard in the buildup. I think my body, when I was standing on the start line,  I think I was tired and, and I just didn’t realize it at the time because I was so new to the marathon, I thought it was just so normal to be tired,  but there were things afterwards that I looked back on and there were signs that maybe I’d pushed it too hard in training.”

Sisson has backed off a little in her training this time. “So we did try to focus this time on getting good training in, getting in a good buildup, but just not overdoing it.  I don’t wanna leave my race in training,” she said.

Sisson does believe she can do well in a hilly marathon. If she qualifies for Paris, she’ll get the chance as the Olympic course has a massive uphill heading to Versailles.

What About the Shoes?

In conjunction with our sister site, BetterRunningShoes.com we’ve been asking some of the Trials contestants what shoes they’ve been training in and will race in. Sisson likes training in the New Balance 880, and will be racing in the New Balance Pacer. Sisson is pretty unique amongst the pros, as the Pacer isn’t a large stack height super shoe. It does have a carbon plate.

(Have you entered our prediction contest? It’s free. Do so now: 2024 LetsRun.com Marathon Trials Prediction Contest Sponsored by Relay)

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