I could open this by saying that Sage Canaday was #3 on this years Ultra Runner of the Year poll. But that would be discrediting all he has done. Over the past year Sage has not only thrown down some impressive races (1st place at Speedgoat 50k, Tarawera 43 Mile, and North Face SF 50m), but he also released a film furthering the sport of ultra & mountain running (It's really good check it out!).
And did I mention that Sage is a super nice guy? After donating to Sage's Kickstarter campaign to make MUT Runner I immediately received a handwritten note thanking me for my support. Over the course of the past year i've received multiple handwritten notes from him. I guess what i'm getting at is, Sage is a really down to earth nice guy who seems to care a lot about promoting the future of the sport. So of course, he was a natural fit for this blog. So let's actually ask Sage some questions.
- What is your go to fuel, during training & during racing?
Sage: Most of my calories come from Vfuel gels. They are quick to digest and are easy on the stomach. For longer adventure runs in training I like nutty snacks like Ugo Bars and Trail Butter. Before and after running I carb up with my favorite beer, pizza and/or pasta!
- What is your favorite beer?
Sage: I love IPAs. The more hops the better. Right now the Avery Maharajah tops the list.
- Do you have any mantras you repeat in your mind during tough moments? How do you dig yourself out of low points out on the trail?
Sage: My usual mantra during an ultra (depending on the course) is "just don't walk." I usually am reduced to a powerhike at some points during a race though. Otherwise, my biggest mental trick is to break the distance or workout down into smaller segments and focus on what I can do in the moment. I think about things I can control like my form and how well I'm staying hydrated between aid stations.
- If you could hop in a time machine and talk to 10 year old Sage for 30 seconds, what would you tell him?
Sage: Read more books!
- If you could hop in a time machine and and talk to Sage 40 years from now for 30 seconds, what would you ask him?
Sage: Oh man, that's a tough one! I guess I'd ask: "Am I on the right path for making a positive difference in the world?"
- You have accomplished so much in ultra running so far, but the possibilities are endless. What are some of your bucket list races or goals?
Sage: I'd love to complete my first 100-miler at UTMB this year. I'm also signed up for Comrades. Those are both bucket list races. I'd eventually like to do the Western States 100, run in the US Olympic Trials Marathon in 2016 and 2020 (hopefully) and travel to Patagonia. I've been pretty lucky so far and it's already been amazing to get to run courses in so many different places.
- What does a typical training week look like for you? Do you follow a strict plan or a more lose plan?
Sage: I coach myself so I have a general plan in the back of my mind, but it changes a bit depending on my next race and how I'm feeling. During peak training I usually try to get my weekly mileage up to 80-100 miles a week and have over 8,000 to 10,000 feet of climbing (if training for a hilly trail ultra). I do long runs usually in the 22 to 30 mile range about once every 7 to 10 days and something faster like 2-mile repeats and 20minute Tempo Runs on the road.
- What were you like as a kid? What are some life experiences that helped shape you into the ultra runner and person you are today?
Sage: I grew up in the sticks of Oregon as a youngster. Most of my free time was spent outside building forts, riding bikes, collecting pine cones and exploring the woods. My older brother and I played a lot of traditional sports and were really competitive with each other. He'd usually crush me at basketball, badminton, tennis, disc golf, and ping-pong. When I started distance running in 6th grade I started beating him though (it was the only sport I could beat him at at the time).
- What kind of music do you listen to?
Sage: A bit of everything now. I appreciate classic rock and classical music to modern pop. I tend to set my radio in the car to the latest top 40 songs...and have been known to even like Taylor Swift!
- Whats the most embarrassing wipe out you have ever had on the trail?
Sage: In my first ultra at the Chuckanut 50km I slipped on a wooden bridge around mile 29 and tumbled into some rocks. It was after I had already gotten lost for awhile and i was trying to catch up to eventual winner Adam Campbell. I crossed the finish line with blood gushing down my leg and luckily RD Krissy Moehl had a doctor on hand that put 5 -stitches in my knee right on the spot.
- Do you enjoy running solo or running with a group of people on the trail?
Sage: Both. If i am doing a hard workout or long run I prefer to be solo now so I can dictate the pace without any external pressure. However, if I'm going for a relaxed run or adventure run in a new area I enjoy the camaraderie of other runners.
- What is one question you have never been asked in an interview, and whats the answer to it?
Sage: This question!
- Who do you look up to (Not just in running… but in life)?
Sage: My parents. They done a ton to support me and given me countless opportunities.
- What would you want to tell to the people who look up to you as a role model in the sport of ultra running?
Sage: Take your easy days easy! Don't race as much as I did in 2013 and 2014. Check out my YouTube channel "Vo2max Productions" for running tips!
- If you could run anywhere in the world with anybody who would you run with and where?
Sage: My Great Grandpa (don't know if he was a runner..but he could've been!). I met my great grandpa when I was like 1.5 years old so I don't remember him, but it would be really neat to talk with an ancestor and just hang out. I think we can learn a lot from our elders and from our roots.
- What is the proudest moment of your life so far, be it running or life in general?
Sage: Probably when I first qualified for the US Olympic Marathon Trials in 2007 at the age of 21 at the Grandma's Marathon in Duluth. It was my second marathon and I had the odds stacked against me because it was a hot day that year and I did it with only 17 seconds to spare!
- Last year I tried my first 100. Superior 100. I DNF’d after 14 hours and 100k because truthfully I didn’t believe in myself and it got dark and I didn’t have a pacer and I just collapsed. When I’m running on the trail sometimes I lose myself and zone out and I dream about finishing that race. I literally will get tears in my eye and I imagine running the last mile surrounded by my family and friends. Do you ever zone out on the trail like that? If so, what do you dream about?
Sage: For sure I love to zone out on the trail. I've found that over the years this usually only happens when I'm in a state of "Flow" and usually it requires a pretty hard physical effort. I'm aware of a lot of pain, but at the same time it is a rush to feel alive and very focused on the task at hand. At that moment time goes by really fast and at the same time it goes by very slowly. Usually I get emotional when I'm getting really low on glycogen and am about to bonk. At that point I usually dream about crossing the finish line and being able to sit down!
- Last what do you think this is?
Sage: That looks like a baby lion/ox mix.
- Last follow up, Are you reading any good books now?
Sage: For sure! I just finished "Linchpin" by Seth Godin last night and liked it. Currently I'm about halfway into "To Sell is Human" by Daniel Pink. It's pretty interesting, but so far I've liked "Linchpin" a bit more.
I should note that after conducting this interview Sage sent me another handwritten note and a copy of his book (did I forget to mention that Sage wrote a book about his experience training for the US Olympic Marathon Trials).
So if you ask me, what makes Sage so special isn't just the fact that he's insanely fast and an A-list ultra runner. What makes him so special is his love and passion for trail and ultra running. And it goes a step further than that, Sage is an ambassador to the sport that we all love. He is always offering up regular tips on his blog & YouTube page, producing MUT Runner the film, and corresponding so openly with those that look up to him.
So on behalf of Trail WhippAss, thank you Sage for all that you do to promote Trail & Ultra Running. With speedy but passionate and down to earth runners like yourself representing this sport, we all have a bright future to look forward to!