October 22, 2016
Former high school star Mary Cain announced on her blog that she will remain on the East Coast this year and no longer be a part of the Nike Oregon Project under the direction of famed coach Alberto Salazar. She will now race in the Nike Elite uniform and be coached by John Henwood, who has overseen her workouts when she’s been on the East Coast since her high school days. Henwood does not have the coaching resume of Salazar, but he was a very good runner for New Zealand, running sub-4 in the mile and 27:45.98 for 10,000m.
Cain, only 20 years old, also announced she is now a full-time student at Fordham University. She wrote on her blog, “I am a full time student at Fordham University. I have made the decision to remain on the east coast for the foreseeable future, so I will no longer be competing in the Nike Oregon Project uniform. Although I enjoyed my time on the Oregon Project, we felt it no longer made sense logistically to compete for the team. These days, John Henwood has taken full control of my training.”
She’ll be racing at the Mayor’s Cup cross country race on Sunday in Boston.
Cain set the running world ablaze in 2013. First, as a 16-year-old high school junior, she won the USA indoor mile title, blowing away a field of professionals over the final 200m. Then, outdoors as a 17-year-old, she ran 4:04.62 for 1500m and made the final of the World Championships. Prior to Cain, the high school girl’s 1500m record was 4:14.50 by Jordan Hasay so Cain lowered it nearly 10 seconds.
Cain began working with Alberto Salazar at the end of 2012 with Henwood guiding her workouts on the East Coast. At the end of 2013, Cain signed a professional contract with Nike and formally joined Salazar’s Nike Oregon Project.
Cain’s running future seemed limitless as she started out 2014 very hot, running a quick 4:07.05 for 1500 (at altitude) to defend her USATF indoor title. Then she was second again at the USA outdoor nationals and won the World Junior 3000m title that summer. However, since then she has gotten progressively slower at 1500m each of the last three years.
Mary Cain 1500m Progression:
American running fans should remember Cain is still only 20 and she did things as a high schooler that no other American has done. That prompted Alberto Salazar to tell the NY Times in 2015, “I’m very confident she can (eventually) run 3:55. Maybe somewhere in the 3:52 range.”
Quick Take: Cain is a huge talent, she needs to find what works for her
One of our favorite mantras at LetsRun.com is “Talent does not go away.” Cain is one of the most talented female runners ever in the US, but that does not mean she is guaranteed to be a star at the senior level. To do that, she has to find a training situation that works for her and gives her the proper balance in her life. She is no longer the little girl who carried stuffed animals through the mixed zone at USAs. She’s now a young woman figuring out what works best for her. This summer, a happier and more mature Mary Cain told LetsRun.com, “The reason I’m relaxed is I’m finally in a place where I see it’s going to happen again … I know it’s going to happen and I know it’s going to be better than 4:03.” Hopefully her decision to stay on the East Coast full-time will be a step towards being in a figurative and literal place where she can “see it’s going to happen again.”