Friday Focus: Sophie Cantine

Sophie Cantine is quickly developing into one of the nation's most promising young middle-distance runners. The Lakeside, Wash. sophomore has raced to the tops of the national leaderboards during her debut indoor track season. She currently ranks US #5 2:50.25 1k and US #7 2:14.39 800m. MileSplit caught up with the young stud before she races the open 800m and Sprint Medley Relay at the prestigious Simplot Games this weekend.

MileSplit: What do you think of indoor track? What made you decide to compete during the indoor season this year?

After having run outdoor track for 6 years, I tried indoor track for the first time last year as a freshman and saw it as a fun way to shake things up in between cross country and the outdoor track season. I decided to do indoor races this year to work on certain areas of my running, to get an idea of where I am before the outdoor season begins, to work on some different distances, such as the 1,000m, and to pick up some tactical experience. It has been really fun!

How do you feel about your fitness at this point in the season?

I am feeling strong, but I have not been training to peak during the indoor season. My training has focused primarily on building my strength along with a moderate amount of speed work. I am looking forward to more speed workouts as I move into the outdoor season.

Can you run us through a typical workout week?

Monday: form work, sprint intervals

Tuesday: recovery run and core

Wednesday: tempo run or long intervals

Thursday: recovery run and core

Friday: rest

Saturday: Middle distance intervals ranging from 400m to 800m, tactical training

Sunday: Long run

You are racing a stellar field at the Simplot Games this weekend. What are your goals?

I have only raced the 800 once during this indoor season so I am looking forward to this race! I am excited about the great competition and am hoping it will help me to gain tactical experience and possibly improve my time. Also, since the indoor track in Seattle at the University of Washington is oversized as a 300m track, this will only be my second time racing on a 200m track and I am looking forward to gaining more experience and becoming more comfortable on the smaller track.

You recently traveled to the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix in Boston to compete in the Junior Girls' Mile. What was that experience like?

The experience was amazing! It was awesome to meet so many great high school runners from all over the country and to stay in the same hotel as the pros! Every time I stepped into the elevator at the hotel, there was at least one professional runner in there too, and it was so fun and inspiring to see them in person. The race was well run and organized and I really enjoyed the challenge of racing against such a competitive field and of navigating a 200m track for the first time.

Have you ever traveled to Boston before? Did you have time to check out any landmarks or do any sightseeing?

I traveled to Boston once four years ago because my dad ran the Boston marathon, and have traveled to New York City several times because my mom grew up there. I am a city girl at heart and have enjoyed my past trips to the east coast, so I was really excited when I learned that I had an opportunity to go back to Boston and race this year. Four years ago, we checked out a lot of cool historical landmarks, so this time we didn't run around too much, especially since it was a short visit and it was extremely cold that weekend. However, we did walk around Cambridge and we explored the neighborhood around the hotel.

Any funny stories from the trip?

It was a little awkward traveling to Boston as a Seattleite just one week after the New England Patriots defeated the Seattle Seahawks. I had to witness all the local New England Patriots fans celebrating in front of me, a devoted Seahawks fan. When I met Boston locals, they were all saying, “Oh you're from Seattle?" and then they would immediately bring up the Seahawks' devastating loss, which I thought was slightly offensive, but funny too.

What does the rest of your indoor schedule look like? Do you plan to contend for a national title at New Balance Nationals?

My high school outdoor season begins in two weeks so this will be my last regular indoor meet. I would like to compete at New Balance Nationals but have not finalized my plans.

What are your goals for the rest of the year?

I hope to continue to improve my speed, strength and tactics and to overall grow stronger as a runner, both physically and mentally.

How does it feel to be a younger athlete competing against juniors and seniors? Do you get nervous? What do you tell yourself or what do you do to calm your nerves?

At first as a freshman, I found racing against Juniors and Seniors intimidating since I had raced in two year age groups for years at Junior Olympics. However, by the end of freshman year I was completely used to racing high schoolers of all ages and did not even think about the ages of my competitors. If I ever do feel intimidated, I just try to focus on my own race rather than worry about who is around me.

Tell us a little bit about your athletic background. When did you first start running track/xc and what other sports did you play as a kid?

When I was little, I figure skated competitively, swam, and played club soccer. When I was nine, I decided to try out track for fun since everyone said I was fast on the soccer field, and I really liked it. That Fall, I tried cross country and have been running ever since. As I became more interested in running, I gave up figure skating, and eventually soccer too, so that by the time I was 13 years old, I was only running. I still occasionally swim for cross training.

What's your guilty pleasure?


What's a fun fact that most people may not realize about you?

My favorite running partner is my dog Cody, a Bernese Mountain Dog, who is surprisingly athletic for a 90+ pound dog.

What's your most embarrassing running-related moment?

During the most recent cross country season at a league meet, there was about ¾ of a mile to go and I was leading the race and I ran the wrong way. My teammate, who was running a few seconds behind me, kindly called me back before I got too far away. Then, two minutes later, I went the wrong way again and all the course monitors and my teammate called me back again. By this time my teammate had taken the lead. I tried to come back, but my mistakes got the best of me and I was runner up. Thankfully, the meet was not a critical one and it was my own teammate who passed me, but I was beyond embarrassed when the meet was over, although I have to say, the course was actually not marked very well.

What was the moment when you decided you were a "runner," not just a "person who runs"?

The first few years that I ran, running was just one of several sports in which I participated. Yet, as I became increasingly successful at the Junior Olympic national track and cross country meets, I started to wonder what I could do if I really focused on running. So, when I was thirteen, I quit soccer and devoted myself to running and considered myself a “runner".

What is your biggest pet peeve?


Describe your perfect day.

I would sleep in until 10:00 am and wake up to a sunny morning. I would then make some homemade French toast for breakfast and then a little later I would go for a late morning run. In the afternoon I would relax outside in my backyard and read a book, and then after dinner I would take an evening walk with a friend and my dog to conclude my day!

Fun stuff!

Pre-race pump-up song: Hall of Fame by The Script
Favorite movie: I know this is sort of cheating, but I really like all the Harry Potter movies; I can't choose one!
Last book you read: Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell
Favorite post-race meal: Cheese Pizza!!!!!!
If you could work out with any athlete (dead or alive) from any sport, it would be... Jenny Simpson