Caroline Wozniacki, the No. 8 tennis player in the world, had no plans for November. So instead of decompressing after a long, 10-month season, the 24-year-old set an ambitious goal of joining 50,000 others and running the New York City Marathon.
With just a few months of hard training under her belt, she will be hitting the pavement Nov. 2 as a New York Road Runner, helping to raise money for Team for Kids, an organization that supports free youth running programs in New York City and around the country.
Wozniacki is also the first pro athlete to attempt a full marathon while still in the prime of her career; on Tuesday, in fact, she prevailed in a 3 hour, 15-minute "marathon" tennis match over Maria Sharapova in China and credited her training for New York. Unlike most first-time marathoners, the former No. 1 and 2014 US Open finalist travels the globe regularly and has had to incorporate more running into her regular tennis training between matches while dealing with jet lag.
We tracked her down for a quick Q-and-A.
espnW: What has your training been like for the New York City Marathon?
Wozniacki: It depends on whether or not I have a match the next day, but I try to run 7 to 10 kilometers [a little more than 4 to 6 miles] per day. If I have a match the following day, I'll cut back a bit, but I still feel I need to get out there and train. Lately, I've run a few half-marathon distances to test myself. In the coming weeks, I'll do a few more.
espnW: Obviously, tennis and running are very different, although in both sports, it's just you out there. How has your marathon training affected your tennis game?
Wozniacki: Running helps me clear my mind and gives me time to just relax and be consumed by my own thoughts. I feel it's improved my focus and concentration during my matches and given me a way to unwind in tournament weeks.
espnW: What or who motivated you to run the marathon?
Wozniacki: Running the New York City Marathon has always been on my bucket list, so it's something that's been in the back of my mind for some time. Also, running the marathon for the Team for Kids charity is such a worthy cause. That in itself gives me all the motivation I need.
espnW: How much running were you doing before you decided to train for New York?
Wozniacki: I've always done a lot of running. Cardio is something I have to do as a professional athlete, but it is also something I do really enjoy mixing into my workouts as much as possible. Since I made the decision to run the marathon, all I've done is change the distance I run from 5 kilometers to 7 to 10 kilometers per day.
espnW: When did you start training? Do you feel as though you are ahead of the game in some ways, given that you are already a pro athlete?
Wozniacki: I started training in mid-June. I think being a pro athlete has definitely helped, as I was already in pretty good shape before I started training.
espnW: What types of music will you be listening to on the marathon route?
Wozniacki: I'm going to create a new playlist for the race. There will be a lot of Calvin Harris, Rihanna, Bruno Mars and David Guetta to inspire me.
espnW: Have you set a time goal for the race?
Wozniacki: My goal is to cross the finish line without passing out along the way.
espnW: Have you received advice from anyone who has been down the marathon road before?
Wozniacki: There have been a few people that have reached out and given me some good advice. Also, Adidas Running has given me a number of helpful tips on what to eat leading up to the race as well as what fluids to drink and gels to eat during the race to keep my energy levels up all the way to the finish line.
espnW: Have you had any difficult training-run experiences so far?
Wozniacki: I ran 15½ kilometers in Tokyo a couple weeks ago, right after a three-hour training session on court. Probably not my best idea ... but I made it. Another one ... I ran 7 kilometers, having just arrived back home from Beijing. I was pretty jet-lagged and tired. It was really tough.
espnW: Have you ever tested the running waters before by completing a shorter race?
Wozniacki: No. The New York City Marathon will be my first-ever race.