Catching Up With Olympian Jenny Simpson
It's been a time of transition for two-time Olympian and 2011 World Championship 1,500m gold medalist Jenny Simpson over the past six months. After the London Olympics, where Simpson failed to qualify for the 1,500m finals, she made the tough decision to change coaches, switching back to her University of Colorado coach Mark Wetmore. Quiet on the racing front in 2013 up until the Drake Relays, many wondered how Simpson was doing and how her coaching transition was going.
Turns out it's been going great. At the Drake Relays, Simpson ran away from an incredible 1,500m field, running an outdoor world number one time of 4:03.35. Coming off the high of Drake, we caught up with Simpson, discussing her early season fitness, what it's been like training under Coach Wetmore again and whether a return to the steeplechase might be in the cards for 2013.
Scott Bush (SB): Congratulations on a big weekend in Des Moines. What a race! How awesome does it feel to bust out such a great early season time?
Jenny Simpson (JS): It feels great. My race plan was as simple as it gets: follow the rabbit closely and when she drops off, just keep running. The result was better than I could have hoped for.
SB: Before Drake, it was a quiet start for you in 2013. How's life? How's training going for you these days?
JS: Life is good. My husband and I are transitioning back to Boulder, Colorado and excited about our future, as always. I'm back doing workouts with Emma Coburn, Shalaya Kipp, and the other CU women. They are simply a joy to be around and I have really enjoyed getting back into the training groove that I was so used to throughout college. Every day, at our respective jobs, my husband and I are just building our careers and enjoying being back close to friends who we can celebrate our life with.
SB: You made a change in coaches since the Olympics. What's the transition been like going back to your college coach, Mark Wetmore?
JS: In a word: seamless. I know the program and the program works so well for me. I show up, I do what I'm told as best as I can, and I go home to recover. The way my coaches approach training and racing suits my personality really well and feeds my individual competitive mentality. The greatest difference though is just being back at my alma mater. I have been so fortunate to have been welcomed to train in quite a few facilities around the country, but there's nothing like being around the staff and students you went to school with. The University of Colorado is a really special place to me.
SB: Okay, I have to get this out of the way, moving back to Coach Wetmore and having training partners like Emma Coburn and Shalaya Kipp, any chance we'll see you back competing in the steeplechase anytime soon?
JS: Haha, it is not in my immediate plans. I have had so many big decisions and hard discussions to get through since December. With the fortune of having the by in the 1,500m to World Champs this year, that was just one thing I felt like I didn't need to over think this year. So, 2013 is still going to be all about the 1500ms and when I feel like it's time for something different, the steeple question will always be there to consider.
SB: It's 2013, the start of a new Olympic quadrennial, what changes have you made to your training this season? Why?
JS: I'm not a coach. I don't want to be a coach. I made a change from one coach's system to another but I really just focus on what I'm being asked to do and don't try to break down their philosophical differences. I think the most important thing for myself going into the competitive year is to have a really qualified coach and to believe in the training. So far, I've had that every year of my career.
SB: You're part of Team New Balance. A lot of people know about Nike's support of the sport and other major shoe companies, but New Balance doesn't get talked about as much. What is New Balance's support like?
JS: New Balance has been an incredible sponsor and many of the people there have become my close friends, athletes and employees alike. From my perspective, NB's strategy has been to make a commitment to people and causes they believe in. That reduces some of the high-pressure stress for athletes and allocates company efforts to notable causes. I have a lot of respect for New Balance and the owner, Jim Davis. I'm proud to be Team NB because of the way I have been treated and the way they impact their community. Millions of dollars to Habitat for Humanity, 1350 domestic manufacturing jobs, $1M to Boston One fund; examples just off the top of my head. I'm so proud to be connected to that.
I should also add, when it comes to NB's impact directly on our sport - I've been able to be at the NB High School Indoor Nationals the past two years. It's incredible. The energy and excitement in the Armory is unbelievable. There was nothing quite like that when I was in high school. I love the way they're supporting that level of our sport by keeping it fun while highlighting the greatest performers. NB High School Outdoor Nationals is unfortunately in the middle of my season, so I'm not able to attend, but I'm sure it's just as fun!
SB: You've won national titles, held American record, competed in Olympic Games and won World Championships gold. Where do you see yourself four years from now?
JS: Packing for Rio! I really hope that I can continue to perform at a world-class level at least through the 2016 Olympics. Between now and then I hope I can continue to add medals and records to my career and I can be an inspiration to young women on and off the track.
SB: Shoes you train in?
JS: New Balance 890 and 880
SB: Favorite post-race meal?
JS: Ice cream, yes, as a meal
SB: Hours of sleep you get in a day?
JS: 9 is the goal, 7 is a minimum
SB: Car you drive?
JS: Audi A4 Convertible
SB: Top song playing in your iPod?
JS: Suit and Tie
SB: Last great movie you watched?
JS: The Way. Very good, go rent it today. Love Martin Sheen.