The 40th edition of Sierre-Zinal is over. The results are in if you read my pre race post (here) then you will see that a few surprises came once the finish line was passed.
One of the surprises of the day was from Sage Canaday. As he says in his post race report, “After having a string of strong ultra-trail race performances for the early part of this year (two 100km wins, two 50 mile wins, a 3rd at Transvulcania and a 3rd at Mt. Washington, and a 50km win) I figured I was due to have a tough day and get “lit up” soon enough.”
It’s tough being at the top! And I have to say, to remain at the top you need to be smart. Lets look at the lessons Geoff Roes is currently giving out on how to burn out! We are not invincible. Sometimes we may think we are and I guess when you have success to the level that Sage has had in the last twelve months, then, as the multitude of race invites arrive, it must be difficult to say no!
“The thing is a lot of times you learn the most from your biggest disappointments.” It may very well be that Sage is start that learning process now. It’s a good thing. Better to learn to kick back and make smart choices in your early years and race for a lifetime than find out in 5-10 years that you can no longer carry on.
You can read Sage’s full blog post HERE
Read my Sierre-Zinal post race summary HERE
Here are some things that Sage learned from this Sierre-Zinal experience:
1. Prior course knowledge is essential for not only executing proper race-day tactics/strategy, but also for specificity in training and knowing what demands will be placed on the body. I should have figured this out after Transvulcania this year.
2. Racing ultras in the US does not carry over the same fitness required for shorter distance (or perhaps any distance) mountain races in Europe. The mountains here are steeper and less forgiving compared to running up the more reasonable slopes of US trails. I think this goes along with still not having enough vertical in my weekly training as it’s takes a certain type of musculature to be able to pull of power hiking 30% grades and then running (and switching back and forth) for hours on end. Furthermore, I should have had more intense training to generate more muscle tension in my legs…a couple Vertical K’s would’ve been much more specific prep!
3. It takes me longer than 2 weeks to recover from an ultra…even “just” a 50km like Speedgoat. I remember in my days at Hansons I had a good seven-week block averaging 130 miles a week and I hammered a 20-mile long run (with a final 3 miles in 14:50) about 3 weeks before the Boston marathon in 2010. I thought I was in the best shape of my life but I ended up tanking and had “dead legs” early on in the race. In retrospect I’ve learned that my body is fragile and I can easily overtrain (and over race) myself before I get injured or mentally “burnt-out.” My climbing legs couldn’t fire at 100% during this race and taking a full 7 days totally off after Speedgoat probably made my Vo2max drop a good 2-3% anyway. Unlike certain other ultra-mountain runners I can’t recover very fast.
On a final note. Sage will be back! No doubt. He has heaps of talent, he is young and ultimately, as he says, “The thing is a lot of times you learn the most from your biggest disappointments.”