Meghan Duggan entered the year having never run more than two miles at a time.
“In hockey,” she said, “it was really a no-no to do any type of long endurance training.”
Now the three-time Olympic medalist is in her final preparations to race Sunday’s New York City Marathon.
“It’s opened up a whole new world to what my body can go through,” she said.
Duggan, who retired from hockey in 2020 after captaining the U.S. to the gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics, decided to make her 26.2-mile debut to raise awareness for the Women’s Sports Foundation, a nonprofit founded by Billie Jean King in 1974 to advance the lives of women and girls through sports.
In addition to serving as Women’s Sports Foundation president, Duggan is the New Jersey Devils director of player development and a mother of two.
Juggling so many responsibilities, the 35-year-old occasionally got out of bed at 4:30 a.m. to do long runs before her kids woke up. Or, she did them on the treadmill at night after her kids went to sleep.
“I’ve had to be flexible as we all do in life,” she said.
Duggan’s two children, George and Olivia, are her biggest cheerleaders.
During training runs, Duggan’s wife, Canadian Olympic hockey champion Gillian Apps, pulled the kids in a bike trailer as they clapped and screamed, “run mamma run!” Duggan often finds George running laps around the house yelling “marathon, marathon!”
“It’s important for me to show my kids you can do hard things,” Duggan said.
Duggan is planning to race alongside Haley Skarupa, a gold medal-winning teammate at the 2018 Winter Games. Erika Lawler, a 2010 Olympic silver medalist hockey player, also planned on running the race until she suffered an injury.
“Hockey players aren’t really meant to be runners,” Duggan said, “but I think that’s why Haley and I are so excited to do it.”
Duggan has not been shy in seeking advice. At the Women’s Sports Foundation’s Annual Salute to Women in Sports gala last month, she cornered Jocelyn Rivas, the youngest person to run 100 marathons, and Alysia Montaño, a U.S. Olympic 800m runner who made worldwide headlines for racing while eight months pregnant at the 2014 USATF Outdoor Championships.
“It’s certainly made me really respect other sports and what goes into it,” Duggan said. “Not that I didn’t before, but I never had the opportunity to put myself in the shoes of another athlete in a different sport. This is kind of my first time, and it’s been eye-opening and enjoyable.”
Duggan’s goal is to complete the 26.2 miles in under four hours.
“I think it’s a realistic goal,” Duggan said. “That’s something that is not easy to do and will be incredibly challenging, but I think even just the accountability of saying it out loud makes it that much more exciting.”
This might not be the last marathon for Duggan, who grew up in Danvers, Mass.
“I’ve had a lot of friends run [the Boston Marathon],” she said. “I would love to do that, but I’m going to get through this one first, and then we’ll see.”
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