French long-distance running pro Sophie has a deep-running passion for endurance. Her hallmark is striving to perform at her best whatever the challenge. The 2013 European Cross-country champion continues to push herself to new distances. And to deliver winning results.
How did you start running? Running is a simple way of life. I always ran just for the enjoyment until someone introduced me to competition at the age of 20.
Running has always been a big part of my life. It’s the easiest sport you can do – all you need is a pair of good running shoes. I live in a small town where people only play rugby. I trained on my own near my house at the top of a big hill. I would try to beat my time every week. I also participated in cross country and would win against the guys.
Why do you run now? This is a question that everybody wants the answer to. Running is a way of life and motivation. It allows you to focus on yourself, to be one with nature and forget about the outside world. I love to feel my body grow and improve while pushing my limits.
What was the most important race you’ve run to date? Each race was important because I learned something each time, but one that stands out was certainly the first time I ran in the Olympic stadium in Beijing, China (at the 2008 Olympic Games).
What is your pre-race ritual? I do a little early jog and a few strides in the morning, then I pack my bag with everything I need to compete. I eat something and then I focus on myself – thinking about the atmosphere of the race ahead.
What do you think about while running? This is another question a lot of people ask me – especially runners who are just starting out. It is the same as in training, I take time to focus on my breathing and try not to think about anything. I just stay focussed on myself.
What is your go-to training meal? It depends on the season, but I like vegetables, rice, green spinach, fatty acids from plant sources, like avocados, or animal sources, like oily fish. Also eggs and bananas. I am used to not eating a lot before training. Sometimes I run on an empty stomach because I love to have a hard session early in the morning. The most important thing for me is to have a good dinner the day before. After a session I love eating bananas, fruits and almonds.
How do you recover after a tough run? The first thing is to start with simple basic things like a shower - finishing with cold water. Eating and sleeping well is a priority. I follow a tough session with an easy workout the day after and will go cycling or swimming.
What song is your go-to for the run? I never run with music because I want to listen my body. My favourite music is the music made by my feet. I hear my breath and I love the sound of nature.
Who is your “team”? Prior to the race my team is my coach who provides me with a fixed program. After the race it is my training group and my boyfriend. He is also my running partner and helps me succeed in each session. My team is also my sponsors such as On.
Apart from endurance sports, what is your passion? I am a woman – I love shoes… but sport shoes. I am also in love with technology. A few years ago I worked to develop track spikes and I won the European title with those shoes that I helped create. I also love the mountains and climbing up to the very best view that I can reach by myself.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a professional athlete? I would probably be a sports teacher because that’s what I studied for at university. I would have liked to create running shoes – but 20 years ago in France it wasn’t an option. I studied Sports Management and have a Masters in Sports Performance. And two years ago I completed my diploma in Sports Nutrition.
What was the best piece of running advice you ever received? My best advice comes from Brother Colm [the Irish missionary and athletics coach known as the godfather of Kenyan running]. A lot of athletes say train hard, win easy. He adds – with mind. I laugh because it’s true… It is not true that if you do a lot you will win a race – the best is to train at your intensity and with your own quality.
What advice do you have for someone who wants to follow in your footsteps? Believe in your abilities and dreams without setting limits – but give yourself the means to reach them. The capacity to achieve something is not enough, this capacity must be stimulated day after day. Be patient and rigorous. Surround yourself with people you trust and stay focussed on yourself.
Why On? I am curious because I have a long history in helping to develop racing equipment. I looked at the On website in 2017 and I was impressed by the number of triathletes who ran in the shoes. I also loved the aesthetic of the design. So I asked to try them out. I tested four pairs and I loved them immediately. With On, you can find your own shoe and succeed in your goals over short or long distances.
What are your favorite On items and why? I like the Cloudflash for competition and quick sessions on the road or on the track. I tried the Cloud X one time at a fast tempo and I was pleasantly surprised – I can also compete in 10km with the Cloud X. I use the Cloudflow for my training, and easy or long runs because you have dynamic flexibility. They also look great with jeans!