Stuart Weir spoke with Jenny Simpson last week. Here’s his piece with Jenny Simpson, post her WR at the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix. Stuart has covered meets around the world, interviewed athletes both domestic and global for RunBlogRun over the past several years.
Jenny Simpson is the 2016 Olympic bronze medalist, 2013 World silver medalist, 2011 World Gold medalist, and now, world record holder, with her US All Star team (Emma Coburn, Sydney McLaughlin, Brenda Martinez, Jenny Simpson).
Jenny Simpson for RunBlogRun
Jenny Simpson talks to Stuart Weir about versatility, experience and Fifth Avenue.
Jenny Simpson is a versatile athlete. While her main successes – the full set of medals at World championships or Olympics – have come in the 1500 meters, she has won the USATF Outdoor championships at three events 1500, 5000 and the 3000 steeplechase as well as taking 2nd-place finish at US Cross Country Championship. When I mention this, she adds that she still has ambitions to break 2 minutes for 800. Her PR is 2:00:45. The versatility is part of who she is: “I really enjoy being good at more than one thing. When I talk to kids, that is one thing I encourage them – when you find one thing you’re good at, never assume it’s the only thing you will be good at. And I like to demonstrate that in my running career”.
Incidentally she prefers the 1500 because you can “have all the effort, the difficulty and the pain over in 4 minutes – as opposed to a 5K which is 15 minutes”. While she plans to concentrate on the 1500, she added: “It’s fun to switch to the 5K or down to the 800 once in a while – or a cross country race and just touch base with the joy of running once in a while where there is a little less pressure. It’s good to mix it up”.
Her favourite race of the year is the New York, Fifth Avenue mile. That is hardly a surprise: she has won it 5 times, including the last 4 years. Why is it so special: “I just think it’s such a wonderful thing that for the entire year I run all over the world – in Asia and Europe -and then to be able to run the standard mile, which in any case is an American invention. And to run a mile in the middle of New York City in the midst of American culture and busyness and an incredible running community, it just seems so fitting as an American to be able to return and run my last race of a very long season back in the United States. I enjoy it, in fact I love it, and I really look forward to ending my season there each year. I seem to have a knack for it, I really do. And it seems to feed right into my sense of pride and ego. And I think I’m gonna be hard to beat there for a long time!”
Having run at the elite level for 10 years and more, Simpson sees her experience as a major advantage over younger runners: “I think I am able to do two things. First of all experience gives you the opportunity to be calm in the middle of the storm. When people make really big moves or do something crazy, it is easier when you are an older, experienced runner to say, ‘I know what I’m capable of and I trust that’.
“It is easier to trust it as you have tested your limits and you know where you stand. I also think it’s easier to think on your feet and make really smart decisions when there’s a lot of pressure because I have had an opportunity for many years of my career under high pressure situations to try different tactics and see if they work or not. There are times when I have run races and been really aggressive and it didn’t work and there have been times when I’ve been too cautious and I have learnt my lesson. So I just think that experience under those circumstances of affords you a lot of advantage”.
The way she timed her finish to perfection in the Rio final showed her experience coming to the fore.