Last week I had the great opportunity to hear Jenny Barringer-Simpson talk about her Gold Medal, World Championship win in the 1500m in Daegu, South Korea on September 1st. Jenny is the first American woman to win the 1500m since Mary Decker Slaney won in 1983. From Rieti, Italy, where she was preparing for another turn at the 1500m, Jenny had much to say about running and what it’s like to be a world champion.
I have to admit, I didn’t know much about Jenny before last week. Finding my love for running after I was finished with school, I’ve been more interested in long distance running than track and field, so I’m not the most knowledgeable person about track & field stars. That being said, after hearing Jenny speak about running, I’m completely impressed and will be following her as she continues to succeed in the sport.
Turns out Jenny has been known as a Steeplechase runner but has switched to the 1500m under her coach Juli Benson, at the Air Force Academy in Colorado. She said the switch took about 6 to 8 months but now she’s more sharp and tactical because in the 1500m, you can’t “put daylight between you and the next person.” Last year she suffered an injury that kept her from racing most of 2010 season and then battled the flu this past Spring. Jenny believes things happen for a reason and because of the illness in the Spring, she was at the perfect point in her training to have a great race on September 1st when she won the world championship in 4:05.87. The last thing her coach told her before stepping up to the start line? “Stay out of trouble.” What did she think about during the race? Her younger sister who’s serving in the Army.
Winning At first “everything went quiet” and she felt a “wonderful sense of shock” that she had won. Because she doesn’t focus on who is who while she’s racing, their all just bodies, she knew there were no others around her when she crossed the line, but thought they had maybe lapped her and she hadn’t really won!
Looking ahead, she’s thinking about the London Olympics but hasn’t set out her plans quite yet. While Jenny feels she’s only getting stronger through this season, she wants to focus on what’s ahead. That being said, she’s going to decide what she wants to do this Fall then highly specialize on a specific distance and races so she’s at her strongest point at the right time next year.
Support Jenny was extremely humble about being a champion and several times mentioned the amazing support system she has. From her husband and family, to her current and past coaches, to the cadets she trains with. She credits those she trusts with the fact that she hasn’t burned out and takes time to rest when she needs it. After each season she takes 10-14 days off without running to let her body rest. She’ll indulge in family, friends, biking and hiking. She relishes in the fact that her family doesn’t know much about running so when she’s with them, she can disconnect from running a little and ‘be normal.’
Spectator Sport? When asked about the disconnect between the high number of US medals at the World Championships to the low number of media at the event, Jenny agreed it’s the big conundrum because so many people are running now and know what running is all about, that it doesn’t make sense as to why more people don’t pay attention to professional running. She hopes that running continues to gain momentum and professional running builds a bigger following.
Encouragement Her tip to new runners is to give running a chance. It’s not easy, even for elite runners after taking some time off, so don’t give in after only a few runs. Stick with it even for a few weeks before giving up! She wants younger runners to know that she doesn’t do anything in training that others can’t do. She has ‘no special guru or secrets.” It’s about knowing what you want, going after it and being consistent.
Jenny is quite inspiring, humble and obviously thrilled to be able to make running her career. I hope we’re cheering her on in the Olympics next year!
Watch Jenny’s win HERE.
Follow Jenny’s success HERE.
- Do you follow elite runners? Track & Field or long distance?
- Did you run on a team in high school and/or college?
Today’s workout -
- 3mile run
- Ab exercises
- 2x18 tricep kickbacks
- 2x16 lateral arm raises