Sage Canaday isn’t just one of the most successful American ultra-marathoners of all time, he’s also one of the most personable and connectable endurance athletes we currently have! Over the past few years, I’ve greatly enjoyed getting to exchange emails with him. His personal advice and interest in the lives of his fans is awesome to watch.
With his YouTube channel, social media accounts, personal website and even his occasional posts on runner forums, he’s one of the easiest athletes to connect with. Thankfully, he recently took a few minutes to answer some questions for 30under3!
I’d love to interview many more runners (and a few others are in the works) but I’m especially hyped that Sage was the first. It was great learning more about his mindset towards goal-setting and how he’s handled some of his career’s adversity. Enjoy!
P.S: Thanks for the Instagram follow, Sage!
30under3: How do you go about goal setting? Do you focus more on short-term, long-term, both?
Sage: Well I try to preach and practice both the value of long-term and short-term goal setting. Even within the context of a a goal race or event we usually try to have “A”, “B”, and “C” goals.
So it is a lot like layering. Some of my goals have been very cut and dry like running a sub 2:19:00 marathon to qualify for the Olympic Trials, but then with trail-ultra events time goals usually get thrown out the window and it is all about place. Long term goals for me and many people that we coach and try to connect with online usually include the idea that running is a lifestyle and it is a sport we want to do long-term for decades. So one of the top long term goals is always just to stay healthy and be able to train consistently.
I think sometimes I make the mistake of getting too caught up with short term goals and jumping around from #AnySurfaceAnyDistance that it has hurt some of my performances. But then again another short term goal is also having fun, and I’ve had a lot of that through doing so many different types of distance races all around the world.
30under3: What have been some of the craziest goals you’ve set for yourself in life and in your running career?
Sage: As a young kid I dreamed of making the Olympic team. First it was in the 100m-200m sprints, but then I quickly realized I wasn’t a very fast sprinter. So then I dreamed about the 10 km to marathon range. Even back at a very young age I knew that it was a very ambitious goal. By the time I was in college the goal shifted to “just making the Olympic Trials” so I could be “one race away from qualifying for the US Olympic Team.” That was much more doable and I accomplished that when I was 21 years old. I had other goals in NCAA college running like winning the Ivy League Conference. I ended up doing that in the track 10km, when I had originally envisioned doing it in cross country (I was 2nd in cross country). My other goal was to make nationals, which I did as a senior. The final goal was to be “All American” but I was about 20 seconds and 30 places too slow at nationals to accomplish that goal.
In mountain-ultra-trail running some of my dream goals are still to win UTMB100 and to win Comrades. I think the original goal of trying to win UTMB was pretty crazy back in 2015 because I was coming off of road running and it was my very first 100-mile attempt..but I truly believed I had a chance. So far I’ve run way below my expectations at 100-milers, but I’m still working on that! In my mind Comrades is really a high end goal because you have to beat 20,000+ strong runners. There is a lot of prize money on the line and a lot of really, really fast guys that compete in that historic race.
30under3: What is it that gets you out of bed to train every day?
Sage: I simply love running. I like being fit. I remind myself that my time is limited to run competitively and that this is my dream job.
I try to always be thankful for the people in my life that have supported my running from my family to my sponsors and the generosity of the running community.
30under3: How do you respond to setbacks and failed goals?
Sage: I try to get even more motivated, learn and try again! Sometimes it is really hard. Sometimes the goals evolve or change over time. But I think you have to be flexible.
There is a fine line between being “realistic” and being a “dreamer.” Some goals you realize you should keep more private and some you want to shout from the rooftops and announce on social media.
30under3: Outside of running, what motivates and inspires you?
Sage: I’m pretty into music. I like to dabble with my guitar and keyboard and listen to bands play popular cover songs on youtube. I really like all kinds of music from classical to ragtime to oldies and modern/alternative rock to EDM. Sometimes I even try my own covers and film them as spoof “music video” intro clips for my social media.
30under3: What do you wish the world knew better about Sage Canaday the person, not just the runner?
Sage: I was super shy and a big time nerd in middle school and high school. I put a lot of energy into my academics. In college I realized I had a passion for business-marketing and social media even though I started off as a mechanical-aerospace engineer at Cornell. Making videos has always been a big passion of mine and now YouTube has become a really big part of my life.
I’m very thankful that people actually watch my videos and I hope that they can be a positive influence on their running and health.