Trails – Just Try It

Sage Canaday (Cornell) has had quite a variable running career.

First, it was the uneven terrain of earthen trails of Oregon.  Then, the rubber surface of a running track and flatter grasses of cross country at Cornell.  Later, it was the hard asphalt of roads of the Olympic Trials Marathon.  Now, he’s back to the earthen trails, but he’s running up mountains instead.

In June, we shared the great news of Canaday winning the US Mountain Championships at Mount Washington, qualifying for the World Mountain Championships later this year.  We didn’t know at the time, but it was his second ultra-marathon ever.

Earlier this week, Canaday sat down with his former coach from Cornell, Robert Johnson, in a feature interview for, a website co-founded by Johnson.  In the interview, Canaday shares to Johnson what it is like to train for the mountains compared to road racing.

“[Canaday] explained that his training for mountain and ultra races is a bit different than what he did for his marathons. “You focus more on putting time on your feet, less on intensity,” Sage said. While at Hansons his long run topped out at 20 miles, now he is doing up to a 28 mile long run and 31 miles in races. Also, while many marathoners do flat training runs, when Sage is trying to get ready for a mountain race he makes sure he does runs with a lot of elevation change and that takes extra planning. Many runners take for granted how easy it is to step out the door and do a run right from the house or to drive up the road for a track workout. Sage (who never touches the track now) will sometimes drive 2 hours in search of mountain runs that feature over 14,000ft in overall elevation change (up and down).”

If anyone is curious on what it is really like to race or run on trails, Canaday has this to say:

“Go out and try it, that’s the first thing I’d say. It is a totally different type of running really, so for some people it takes a totally different skill set. But the same fundamental principles of running through pain and being aerobically fit come into play.”

For more updates on Canaday’s training and progress, you can follow him on his website’s blog.

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