Olympic medallist Jenny Simpson reveals the rewards ahead for new runners who keep with it

World champion 1,500m runner from the USA, Jenny Simpson, joined the Olympic Channel Podcast for an interview. Here are five things we learned…
By Ed Knowles

Jenny Simpson is an elite 15,000 runner from the USA who is looking to go to her fourth Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Her long and illustrious career includes a world championship win and an Olympic bronze medal.

Jenny’s determination is infectious, and it’s meant people around her have become runners.

“One of the very crucial things that I try to encourage everyone that's trying this for the first time is, at the beginning, try to get through a month of misery,” she said to the Olympic Channel Podcast.

“No matter how hard it is, the first, second, third day. Stick with it. I promise it's worth it.”

From more running tips to staying grounded as an elite performer, here are four more things we learned from her chat with the Olympic Channel Podcast.

Jenny Simpson: beginner running tips

There is a thought that has gone through most aspiring athletes at some point.

What’s the point?

When you are starting a new regime, this can be especially challenging.

“There is this phase at the very beginning [where] your body really rejects that initial ‘off the couch onto into the run’," Jenny said.

“But once you break through that initial step of your body kind of getting [used to] the actual running part, it's so strange.

“Suddenly, one day you head out and you realise you're a mile into your run and you've been thinking about something else and the weather is great and you're happy and it's not very hard.”

Jenny Simpson of USA receiving her silver medal from the World Championships in London 2017
Picture by 2017 Getty Images

Jenny Simpson: Start running slow sometimes

One of the most common errors for new runners is that they push themselves to the limit every single time they go out for a run.

People run their top speed for as long as they can, and as often as possible.

It’s unsustainable.

“You go out, you have easy days, you have hard days,” Jenny explains.

You need to build a simple programme.

“You start out slower on your easy days. [And] on your hard days, you have to warm up before you go hard.”

If in doubt, seek out some help either from the internet or in real life.

“Go to a local running club staff [and] figure out a group to join… you'll learn quickly!”

Jenny Simpson on mental tips to stay grounded after triumph or disaster

Jenny became world champion really early in her career in 2011.

Since then, there have been more highs and lows.

She lost a shoe at the World Championships final in 2015. But took an Olympic bronze medal home from Rio 2016.

Either way – Jenny has surrounded herself with people who keep her grounded.

“It's good to come off the track on your worst day and know there's going to be another race and I'm going to have another chance.”

“And it's equally as good to come off a really good day and say, ‘This is just a result of all the work we've been doing for a really long time’."

In fact, one of her proudest achievements is that ability to reset quickly – not from a bad day. But from a career highlight.

“After I medalled in 2016, I think it was just a week later, I think we were racing in Paris. I still ran [a time of] 3.58. And so to be able to double back after all the excitement and crazy circus of being a USA Olympic athlete that medals, I was still able to perform a week later an ocean away.”

Jenny Simpson on being stronger together

The Olympics sets out to ‘build a world based on the rules of fair competition, peace, humanity, and reconciliation’.

It’s been a difficult time for everyone across the globe, but 2021 is an Olympic year.

“The pandemic has been exhausting.

“We were battered, all across the globe. I understand the sentiment of like us all ‘coming together’.

“But even greater and more important than that is us coming together to see how great we can be.

“It's not a competition of kindness. It's going to be a competition of excellence.

“And I'm really excited. I mean, I get chills thinking about it. I want to be a part of that.”