Two-time Olympian Jenny Simpson, 28, is one of America’s best runners on the track, having earned world championship gold (2011) and silver (2013) medals in the 1,500-meter run. She was the world’s top-ranked 1,500-meter runner last year and came within a fraction of a second of breaking Mary Slaney’s 1983 American record of 3:57.12. In February, Simpson set a new U.S. mark in the indoor 2-mile run of 9:18.35. She’s preparing for this year’s world track championships in Beijing in August.

How did you start running?

There were a lot of value-building things that my parents introduced me to when I was younger—and that’s good, parents should impose those things on kids—but running was really 100 percent my idea.

Favorite place to run?

I appreciate tradition and history, and the Olympic stadiums really capture that in a special way. I feel fortunate to have raced in my own Olympic experiences in Beijing and London, and to be able to have run in Olympic stadiums in Moscow, Tokyo and Stockholm. I feel very connected with the women who paved the way before me when I’m there.

VIDEO: Why I Run: Jenny Simpson

Last good book?

I just finished “Memoirs of a Geisha.” It’s one of those books that people think, “Oh, it’s assigned in high school so it can’t be that good.” But it’s a really beautiful and fun story. I also recently read “Gone Girl,” which was quite disturbing and creepy.

Last good movie?

“The Way,” with Martin Sheen was really good. But I’m a total sucker for happy comedies or silly movies too. So much of life is really meaningful and important, but I love the escapism and enjoy watching ridiculous movies sometimes.

Favorite splurge food?

Everybody knows I love ice cream. What it does for my spirit probably more than offsets what it doesn’t do nutritionally. It’s something I never feel too guilty about.

Advice to runners?

No matter if you’re a first-timer or a high-level runner, the biggest thing you need courage for is getting to the starting line. It’s the courage to commit and prepare. Once you’re at the starting line, it’s just about executing your race the way you have prepared to.

PHOTOS: A Glimpse at Jenny Simpson’s Career