Series18 Nov 2013

Work, rest and play – Jenn Suhr


USA's Jenn Suhr at the 2013 IAAF World Championships in Moscow (© Getty Images)

In the latest in our series where we delve into the work, rest and play of a leading athlete, we focus on the USA's world indoor pole vault record-holder Jenn Suhr.


What is your favourite training session?

Jenn Suhr: Anything that really works on the skill part of it (pole vaulting). If I take off on a run-up that is a little shorter than my competition run-up and I can really work on some (technical) things, that is my favourite type of workout.

What are your three favourite things about being an athlete?

JS: One is I get to work with my husband and coach (Rick Suhr) on the same goals and when we  accomplish them it gives me so much more satisfaction to share it with someone. Secondly, the travel. The sport has taken me to places I would never normally have been to and that is something I have learned to appreciate. The third thing is when things really work out, it is knowing the hard work I’ve put into it (to achieve that). I don’t know about other sports, but the way track and field is designed you have to put so much time and work into it (to get the results).

What is your favourite training venue?

JS: We train so much at home (she trains in two corrugated iron army-style huts in her backyard) so I would say there. My training facility is a steel building and quite cold with not a lot of light. It has become my most comfortable training spot. I really don’t want to train anywhere else.

What is your favourite music to train to?

JS: I listen mostly to modern music, but when I’m competing I like to listen to something a little more edgy. I like Alicia Keys’ Girl on Fire or something by Nickelback or The Script.

What is your least favourite thing about being an athlete?

JS: The stress and travel of competition and living out of a suitcase. The other hard part is finding a place to train when you are travelling and sometimes this means I haven't prepared quite as well as I would have wanted. That is always the one part I cringe at and don’t look forward to.


Can you describe your perfect non-training day?

JS: I really enjoy Sundays, especially in the US at this time of year because it is the (American) football season. Right now I look forward to Sunday football and relaxing with friends and family. American football is what I like to watch. I go to a lot of the (Buffalo) Bills games through the season.

Where is your favourite place to relax?

JS: About three years ago Rick and I bought a little cottage on Lake Ontario, so that is somewhere we often visit. Even during the season we go to the house. It is only 45 minutes from our home and we have a boat out there. We go there to forget about training and to relax.

If you could pick one athlete to relax with, who would it be and why?

JS: I’ve always been a big fan of Serena Williams (the 17-time grand slam singles tennis champion). I did get to meet her after the Olympics which solidified this believe as I enjoyed her company. I’d like to hang out with Serena Williams and ask her some questions.

Do you have a favourite movie?

JS: I’m not a big movie person. I’m more of a series person and I’ve been watching the Burn Notice series. That was my entertainment while in Europe this year.


What do you do for fun?

JS: It's going camping and boating and visiting Niagara Falls, even though I’ve seen it many times before. I like to do lots of different things that this area (New York state) offers. I don’t feel a need to jump in the car and drive for hours when I have so many great things close by.

We hear you are a huge fan of animals. What was your first pet?

JS: It was a white guinea pig. I wanted one really bad. I asked my mom and she said, 'you'll have to ask your dad’. I asked my dad and just at that point someone else was talking to him and he answered, 'yes’. I thought he was talking to me, so I was screaming that I could have an animal. He didn’t have the heart to tell me no, so that was the first animal. I was aged about seven or eight.

Why are animals so important to you?

JS: I grew up with animals all my life. They’ve always been around and when I was younger we had a dog and a cat. I knew that once I got my own place I would get a white Great Pyrenees dog. I’ve always been a huge animal lover. It is something that has been a big part of my family. I also have an orange coloured tabby cat.

If you were an animal, what would you be and why?

JS: I would settle on being a dog. If a dog has a good owner, they have it made. I spoil my dog. Most people tend to spoil their dogs.

Is there any animal out there you are not fond of?

JS: I’m not a big fan of coyotes. We live in a rural area and I can hear them at night screaming. I don’t really like them.

Steve Landells for the IAAF