Sage Canaday is a tour-de-force in the running world, having established his credentials from the very start of his career when he became the youngest participant in the Olympic Marathon 2007 trials at age 21. An Oregon native, Sage won the Ivy League Conference 10000m in 2007 and qualified for the US Olympic trials in 2008. His running resume includes a 17th place finish at the 2010 Chicago Marathon and placing second at the 2011 Walt Disney World Half Marathon.
In 2012, Sage shifted focus to ultramarathons and trail running, and has now set his sights on becoming one of the best Mountain-Ultra-Trail (MUT) runners in the world. His dazzling MUT resume includes placing first at the punishing Tarawera Ultra Marathon in New Zealand in March 2014 and winning The North Face Endurance Challenge 50K in Costa Rica in May 2014. Sage also has a thriving social media presence with his successful Youtube channel and production company, VO2Max.
We were privileged to have a conversation with Sage on life as a MUT runner, some of the toughest challenges from this career, and his training and nutritional philosophy. You can find out more about Sage at www.sagecanaday.com.
You are focusing on becoming one of the best MUT runners in the world. India has a small, but passionate ultrarunning community. We also have some challenging ultras and mountain races of our own, like the Nilgiris Ultra and the Ladakh Ultra. What training advice would you give to runners who are just starting to, or are thinking about making the transition from road races to mountain trails? Also, will India be on your running calendar anytime soon?
That is great to hear! I think the biggest thing for making the transition is to work on running more hills – gaining vertical in training, long runs and intense uphills. Also, I’m working on extending my long run (single longest run in any given week) for spending more time on my feet and working on running more trails instead of roads. I don’t have any events planned in India yet for the near future, but I’d love to come and visit one day!
You won the Tarawera Ultramarathon 100K in 2013, and successfully defended your title in March 2014. What are the unique challenges at Tarawera and how do you train for them?
Tarawera is a great, classic trail race with a course that goes through a lot of forests and around lakes. It has an elevation profile that is very similar to races here in the US (like those trails in California). Since the trail was not too technical and the elevation was closer to sea level I was able to train much more like a traditional road marathoner. The one issue that I was not used to was the heat and humidity. Coming from the mountains of Colorado, I was used to very cold conditions and snow – whereas in New Zealand it is the end of summer and it was quite hot! I prepared with “heat training” by wearing extra jackets when I trained in the snow in Colorado all winter.
You placed third at the Transvulcania in 2014, which is considered one of the toughest mountain ultramarathons in the world and attracts the best in the sport. Could you share with us the experience of what it is like to run an ultramarathon on a trail with such a punishing elevation? Also, how cool is it to have a volcano summit as part of the trail?
Transvulcania is a beautiful and very challenging race. The sheer amount of vertical gain really made my legs hurt, but the views of the sunrise coming up over the horizon of the ocean with the other Canary Islands seemingly “floating” above a cloud inversion as breathtaking (literally and figuratively!). I probably should have logged more vertical in training, but I was coming off of the Lake Sonoma 50-miler in April (California), and I was tired. The volcano summit has spectacular views and I found the technical, rocky descent in the latter stages of the race to be very challenging and scary!
At Unived Sports, we love plant powered athletes like you! Could you briefly share your nutritional philosophy and regimen with us? How important is it for runners to incorporate scientific sports nutrition into their training?
Behind the actual training you do (and sleep), I think nutrition is the biggest component in how well you can perform. I eat a fairly high carb diet with a lot of breads, rice, beans, fruit and vegetables mainly. I think if I focus on eating a lot of vegetables then I will get a lot of vitamins and nutrients I need to perform my best and recover. So far it’s worked out pretty well for me!
You have built an incredible social media presence with your production company VO2Max, and you have said in the past that your videos are a way of giving back to the running community. How does the process of making these videos and investing in your social media help you with your own running?
It’s very inspiring for me. Through social media I can interact and connect with other fellow runners from around the world. When I hear positive feedback about how my video may have helped someone enjoy their running more, I get a lot of satisfaction from it.
India has seen a huge upswing in its running scene in the past 10 years. Like with any other passionate sporting community, Indian runners have been said to increase their mileage too much, too fast – exposing themselves to injury. What are your essential tips to prevent injury in beginners and seasoned runners?
Take your easy/recovery days very easy and slow (or don’t run some days). I think that between long runs and harder/faster workouts, you need some days where you can really just run relaxed and enjoy every step (and not be in pain!). It takes a lot of time to build up mileage and the best way to do that is to graually increase one variable in your training at a time.
What are you training for in 2015?
Right now I am training for the LA Marathon in March. After that I plan to race the Comrades ultra in South Africa (May), the Zermatt Marathon (July) and the Speedgoat 50K (July), and the UTMB100 (Aug).