Renergized Mary Cain Moves Back East

By Chris Lotsbom, @ChrisLotsbom
(c) 2015 Race Results Weekly, all rights reserved

MA (25-Oct) — Signing autographs and posing for pictures, Mary Cain
smiles non-stop. She wears the same grin that was seen week-in and
week-out in 2014, when she took the American track scene by storm and
claimed a gold medal at the IAAF World Junior Championships. Here today
for the Boston Mayor’s Cup Cross Country meet, hosted by the Boston
Athletic Association and USATF New England, Cain savored the relaxed
and fun atmosphere.

The Mary Cain here today is visibly
upbeat, a somewhat changed 19-year-old. She’s a far cry from the young
woman who walked off the track dejected after an eighth place finish at
this year’s USA Track & Field Championships in June.

Mary Cain is giddy and wears a bright orange ribbon in her hair. She’s
re-energized and ready to build off her 16:46, third place 5K finish

“I’m not the down Mary Cain in interviews any more!” she
exclaimed with glee and a chuckle, moments after a recorded interview
with Race Results Weekly came to an end. “I’m super happy!”

one-on-one with RRW for close to ten minutes as rain began to fall,
Cain described her new outlook on running. Since moving back to her
family home in Bronxville, N.Y., earlier this year, she feels a new
sense of energy.

With the move East, Cain has gone back to
the basics, focusing on why she fell in love with running in the first
place. She’s going back to the things that made her arguably the top
prep runner in American history, and a feared athlete on the track

Cain still wears the black-skulled Nike Oregon
Project kit with pride, perhaps more pride than ever before. Some media
members and fans had wondered if Cain and coach Alberto Salazar were
growing apart after a tough 2015 track season, culminating with her
move back to Bronxville.

On the contrary, Cain said she has
confidence in Salazar and still talks to him daily, relying on him for
workouts and advice. The only change –really– is being thousands of
miles apart, she said.

While Cain released a blog entry earlier
this month that touched upon the move, she had not previously gone into
depth regarding the topic. Today, Cain opened up to Race Results
Weekly, providing context on the transition.

“I think a lot
of it has been going ‘back to basics’ as my mom says. A lot of it is
quality workouts and quality running [now],” Cain began. “I think last
year I really got caught in the ‘I’m running against 30-year-olds, I
have to look like a 30-year-old on the track’ [mentality]. So I’d be
doing crazy tempos, crazy mileage, crazy cross training, and I would
get into running and by the time I’m doing the actual sport that I do,
I felt really awful, really crappy. You could see it in my results.”

moving to Portland and attending the University of Portland, Cain
ramped up her training. She’d routinely make 30 minute drives from the
college campus to the Nike campus for track workouts.

living in Portland had its many benefits –including the superior
facilities, personal training under Salazar, and more– it did come
with apparent drawbacks. From today’s conversation, Cain sounded like
she was a bit stressed in Oregon, and put a lot of pressure on herself.

The move back to Bronxville was a step back, a
forward-thinking move to get back to what worked best; what helped her
set personal bests of 1:59.51 for 800 meters and 4:04.62 for 1500
meters on the track.

“Part of the reason I moved home is
because this [meaning 2016] isn’t really the year to mess up again. In
a way I knew this was a system that works, and we’re all really
comfortable and confident with it, and I’m just happy to be back,” she
said. “I think one of the biggest things for me is just having fun with
again, seeing all these kids [looking at the children around her]. When
I was out in Portland there was a lot of really great things about it.
But being home, I’m a New Yorker and I think I’ve really enjoyed being
back out here.”

If a title was necessary, Cain’s move could be
called “Back To The Future.” She’s returning to Bronxville and her past
while hoping for future success. She’s reverting to the training system
that she was most comfortable with.

“This year, it’s just
been about the running,” she said. “I’ll do my core, I’ll do my
strength training, I’ll do my occasional cross training if I need it.
But it’s really about going through the motions of running and I think
that’s made it more fun again for me. I came into this sport because I
love to run. And I’m back home with my parents who help me out.”

rattled off names who have been supportive and key to her career:
Salazar; her parents Charles and Mary; her sisters Aine, Catherine, and
Mairead; and Olympian John Henwood, who oversees her training in
Bronxville and was on hand today.

“In a lot of ways its just
what I did junior and senior year of high school. Alberto is 3,000
miles away but we still have got the phone and technology like we did
two years ago. We’re on the phone all the time. I think it’s kind of
nice to almost bring it back to what kind of got me into the sport in
the first place,” she said. “Alberto and I developed a relationship
kind of how we are working together right now, so it feels like how it
used to be. It hasn’t really changed at all.”

Cain continued:
“In a way I think our relationship is probably even better now because
I’m not the crazy college kid now!” She noted specifically frantic
calls from Portland traffic jams, and other stresses trying to juggle
academic and athletic excellence (Cain currently is enrolled at Fordham

Today’s Boston Mayor’s Cup Cross Country meet was
another step forward to what Cain hopes is a successful 2016,
culminating with a trip to Rio de Janeiro and the Olympic Games. She
does not know when her next race will be, but hinted at a return to New
York’s Van Cortlandt Park for another cross country event. She will run
an indoor track season, and is eager to lace up the spikes again soon.

October 25, I know I’m in pretty good shape. I’ve never been in this
kind of shape this early, so I’m pretty excited about that!” she said.

the success that Cain has achieved prior to her 20th birthday comes a
lot of pressure and expectations, both internal and external. During
the better part of 2015, Cain was troubled by the lack of progress and
success she had become accustomed to in 2014.

Now, going into 2016, she’s refocused. She’s in a more comfortable setting, and is ready for more.

a lot of ways right now is just getting back into racing because last
year really wasn’t that good,” she said, speaking directly into a video
camera and sounding like a mature, focused adult. “It’s about being
able to get to the line, go through the pre-race jitters, get a good
effort in. But really get ready for indoor [track]. I’m excited for
this indoors. I feel like I’m back on track — no pun intended.”

Mary Cain after taking third place at the 2015 Boston Mayor’s Cross
Country meeting

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