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Ultra Versatile: 5 Questions With Sage Canaday

We caught up with road marathoner turned mountain ultra runner Sage Canaday after his first snowshoe race.

At 27 years old, Sage Canaday has covered a lot of ground and a variety of terrain. The 2:16 road marathoner turned off-road ultra/mountain runner recently completed his first snowshoe race, which also happened to be his first time on snowshoes. The result? He finished a close second to 2012 National Snowshoe Champion Josiah Middaugh. We caught up with Canaday recently to hear what he has planned for the rest of 2013.

RELATED: Sage Canaday Racing At World Mountain Championships

You DNF’d at the The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championship [last fall], what happened?

Basically I missed a turn. I didn’t have the opportunity to pre-run the course and was paranoid about getting lost, so I studied the course map intently leading up to the race. But, due to all the rain and degrading course conditions, race organizers changed the course the day before the race and I missed the turn to the Muir Beach aid station. I made up the distance, but it was a huge mental blow, I had some hard falls and finally just hit the wall. It was my first DNF in a race over 10K.

Earning a win at the USATF 100K Ultra Trail Championships title at the Bandera 100K and setting a Bandera 100K (January 2013) course record in the process is a solid start for 2013. What’s next, maybe a 100-miler?

Finishing first and setting the course record at Bandera was definitely a great start to the year! Since I dropped out of the TNF 50, it didn’t take me as long to recover. I was able to keep my fitness going through January so I was ready for it. It rained the night before the race and the course was muddy, but I was better prepared than I was in California. I’m feeling better about the distance. I still have a long way to go, but now I’m confident I can do it without bonking really hard.

I want to keep working to establish myself in the ultra mountain running scene and focus on 50 – 100K’s with lots of climbing. Next up, I’m running the 100K Tarawera Ultra Marathon in New Zealand this March. I’m also excited to go back to New York in June for the first running of the Cayuga Trails 50 in Ithaca.

I would definitely like to make it to the Olympic Trials again, but the window for the 2016 trials doesn’t open until August, so that may not happen this year.

As for a 100-miler, I can see myself doing it one day, for sure. I earned an automatic entry into the Western States 100 at Bandera, but I’m not ready for it this summer. I want to get my road marathon time down first, qualify for the 2016 trials and then I’ll go for it.

How has your training shifted from your Hansons-Brooks Distance Project Team days?

I wanted new scenery and to see how I responded to longer distances. Now I do consistent training, with high mileage, high intensity to increase my lactate threshold and also putting on more miles even when I’m tired. I’ve added trails, uphill and mountain running and training runs up to 30 miles long.

I’m now more relaxed on my easy days, and, especially with the varied terrain of trails, it’s more important for me to run by time instead of miles, and judge workouts based upon effort and intensity. I’m really enjoying running on softer surfaces and listening to my body.

Depending upon race timing, I try to break my training down into blocks. I’m currently in a six-week cycle of focused training for New Zealand.

You’ve been tinkering with your fueling and hydration. Are you figuring out what works for you, besides eating massive amounts of donuts or pancakes before a workout?

It’s all part of training!

I’ve learned that ultras are basically a contest to see how much you can eat without getting sick. I burn through fuel at a pretty high intensity, so I’m happy to take in straight sugar, like Coca-Cola. The salt and fat in potato chips is good too. I’m also tinkering with adjusting my food based upon my sweat rate. My stomach is pretty tolerant.

You started Vo2max Productions to promote your book, Running For The Hansons: An Insider’s Account of The Brooks-Sponsored Marathon Training Group Made Famous by Olympian Brian Sell, but it’s grown into much more, with videos, race and gear write-ups and coaching. Where are you going with it and your self-proclaimed social media addiction?

I have a passion for business and marketing and created Vo2max Productions so I could self-publish my book. Then I started uploading my running videos and tapped into the Google ad stream. I also use it as a platform to offer email and individualized coaching for athletes. It provides some income and keeps my mind busy between runs and races.

A lot of the videos I post are product reviews, race reports and training videos. I create them as a way to give back to the running community and the sport that has given me so much.

I was thinking about about doing a second edition of my book, but I’m really passionate about videos. Instead of writing so much, I want to do a documentary film series about what it takes to compete on the world stage in ultras and mountain running. More on that front this summer!