5 Questions with Olympic Champ Gwen Jorgensen before the Chicago Marathon

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by LetsRun.com
October 1, 2018

Gwen Jorgensen is the reigning Olympic champion in the triathlon. Last year, she surprised a lot of people by saying was leaving the sport of triathlon to train for the marathon full-time as she wanted to be the Olympic champion in the marathon.

Jorgensen is less than a year into her career as a full-time runner, which was announced a few months after she became a mom to son Stanley last August 16th. Jorgensen surprised many by running 15:15.64 for 5,000m in her first track race as a full-time runner on February 10th, less than 6 months after giving birth. According to conversion calculators, it’s her best performance of the year. She has had some other notable performances, including running 31:55 for 10,000, finishing 7th at the USATF Championships in Des Moines, 5th at the AJC Peachtree Road Race and running 70:58 for the half marathon. She’s a member of the Nike Bowerman Track Club, where she is coached by Jerry Schumacher and her training partners include marathoners Shalane Flanagan (NYC champ) and Amy Cragg (World Champs bronze medallist).

Jorgensen racing at Stanford earlier this year (via @talbotcox)

Jorgensen racing at Stanford earlier this year (via @talbotcox)

Throughout this year, Gwen has said her performances at the shorter distances were not that important, that she was focused on training for the marathon and getting ready for 2020. She will take a big step in that direction on Sunday at the Bank of America Chicago Marathon. With the withdrawal of Americans Jordan Hasay and Amy Cragg, Jorgensen could vie for first American honors with Laura Thweatt (2:25:38 PB, 70:17 half marathon PB).

Jorgensen only has one marathon under her belt, a 2:41:01 in 2016 shortly after winning triathlon gold in Rio.

Jorgensen is a super accessible athlete with not only a strong presence on social media, but her own media team, led by her husband Pat Lemieux (editor’s note: if every athlete did what Gwen did in terms of media, our job at LetsRun.com would be super easy). Gwen definitely is focused on Chicago this week, as when we reached out to her to chat this week, her team said she’d prefer to do it via email as she was focusing on the race.

Thus our five questions with Gwen Jorgensen.

1. LetsRun.com: How have your Chicago preparations gone?

Gwen Jorgensen: I had no idea what to expect while training for a marathon. There were weeks it was so draining and fatiguing I wondered if I was gaining anything by trotting the miles. There were sessions that were tough, short, long, fast, slow. I had so many different experiences on this build without any races to check in on fitness. I only had my training journal and belief in the process. I have no idea how Sunday will go, but I am so excited to race. This marathon is all about gaining experience and learning. I have worked hard and have an amazing support team behind me.

LRC: What is your goal for Sunday? How will you measure success? Do you have a group or pacers to run with?

Gwen: I will look to Jerry [Schumacher] to assess if I have met outcome based goals. I know that in this marathon I will have to pace myself and not go out at a pace that I cannot sustain. My fastest time will come if I can negative or even split so I will be looking to run a pace that I can sustain. I do not want to get hung up on a time or place as I cannot dictate what my competitors or the weather does. I need to run a marathon to gain experience. I have worked extensively on my nutrition plan and I am excited to see how that goes.

LRC:  Is it weird for someone with as much success as you have had to go into a race not thinking about contending for the win?

Gwen Jorgensen running at Metronic 10 miler back when she was a triathlete in 2016

Gwen Jorgensen running at Medtronic 10 miler back when she was a triathlete in 2016

Gwen: I am not happy that I am not in 2:19 shape but that is the reality of training less than a year solely in the sport of running. On Sunday I need to run my race and focus on the process of running a marathon. The end result will be what it will be. Last year there were 4 or 5 women that went out at 2:16 pace in Chicago; unless they blow up incredibly I would be out of the race from the start if the same happens this year.

LRC: You’ve been a full-time runner just about a year now. How would rate the past year? Feel free to note anything surprising/different than you expected.

Gwen: I am deeply competitive and am not happy with top 10 results. This year has been all about training for the Olympic trials in 2020. I believe that I have done great work to get ready for that race. I am training and racing on a very short timeline all while trying to learn a new sport. I do not have the flexibility to lower my mileage to get ready for a shorter track race or 10k road race. My entire season has been built around getting ready for the Olympic marathon. I have to work hard and remain focused on my main goal, trusting the process.

LRC: You got a lot of fanfare with your lofty goal of wanting to win the Olympic marathon. Now that you’ve been running a year is that still your goal or have you changed your focus?

Gwen: My goal of winning another gold medal has not changed.

Discuss this article in our forums here: What’s a successful run for Gwen Jorgensen on Sunday in Chicago? 


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