Lolo Jones is going to get an Olympic medal. It’s just a matter of time. In 2008, the track star from Iowa by way of Louisiana State University narrowly missed the Olympic podium after a heartbreaking stumble in the 100-meter hurdles final in Beijing. She again narrowly missed out on bling when she placed fourth at the 2012 London Games.
So during the past year, Jones swapped her tracksuit for a bobsled zip-up and trained to be a brakewoman for the U.S. bobsled team. She earned a ticket to the 2014 Sochi Games, becoming a member of a small, exclusive club of athletes who have competed in both the Summer and Winter Olympics. She did not earn a medal in Russia, but she walked away with pride, coming in 11th in a sport she’d only recently learned.
Now the 31-year-old ASICS athlete is re-focusing on her first love, running, and setting her sights on the 2016 Summer Games in Rio. Her quest is off to a good start: at the USA Track & Field Championships in June, Jones ran the 100-meter hurdles in 12.89 seconds—one of the fastest marks in the world this year and an impressive achievement, especially since Jones had to lose 30 pounds of bobsledding weight to get down to her ideal track and field number.
Four months after her Winter Olympics debut, Jones talked with STACK about getting back into running shape and her plans for Brazil.
STACK: What made you decide to get into bobsledding in the first place?
Lolo Jones: I remember sitting on the couch and watching TV after the London Games. I was really frustrated. I felt like I had poured everything I had into two Summer Games and come so close, and yet I was not coming home with a medal. I was really down on myself. And I thought a lot about how I could continue my athletic journey. That’s when I thought of bobsledding. Since then, I’ve been going non-stop, competing in bobsledding and track for the last two years. I’m going to need a break after this track season.
Track and bobsledding could not be more different. How did you get ready to run again so quickly?
It was tough. I had to lose the 30 pounds I had put on for bobsledding. For the first time in my life, I could relate to the struggle to lose weight. I was definitely not ready to wear that tiny, two-piece track uniform.
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How did you slim down so dramatically?
I stopped consuming 3,000-calorie weight gainers and dropped 10 pounds in a week. I lost the next 10 pounds by cutting my portions and eating healthier meals, like chicken or fish. No more double-cheeseburgers! The last 10 pounds were the hardest. I had to be really careful with my cheat meals (burritos) and sweet tooth (chocolate). I’m at 140 pounds now, but I’d like to get down to 133.
Did you always the plan to return to track?
Yes. After the Winter Olympics, I was physically fit and really strong from pushing the bobsled. But it was tough to get my energy up again. Competing in an Olympics can really drain you mentally and physically. One thing I’ve learned throughout my career is that whenever you lack motivation, you lack goals. So I had to re-focus and redefine my goals, like win a certain number of races this season.
What does your workout routine look like now?
You can’t do the same workout every day and expect results. Our method is based on cycles. We build up to hard workouts within three weeks and then take a rest week. Also, if you increase your volume, you need to decrease your rest. For example, if I’m running for longer and slower, then I get less rest time. But if my run time is faster and shorter, I get a longer time to recover so that I can run at a higher velocity next round. Rest is really important.