I try to eat fairly healthy most of the time…products from my sponsor Flora definitely help with that (and Sandi likes this stuff too!).
This past weekend I finished 3rd place for the 3rd time at the Transvulcania Ultra Marathon. While I was honored to make the podium again at this amazing race, I also will admit that I am a bit disappointed to not run a super fast time and to not improve my place by a single position! Part of this has to do with a change in the race course which added a bit of distance and climbing (so I guess I can throw the time comparison out the window this year!).
Another part of this has to do with the outstanding and dominating performances that race champion and course record holder Luis Alberto Hernando (who I will point out WON for the 3rd Time…now that is consistent!!) churned out as well as a top performance from French runner Nicolas Martin for 2nd place. The final switchbacks heading down to the port of Tazacorte are on the left side of this picture (and above the buildings!). Thanks to the people (local crowds of support and running fans) this finish line is always super exciting and special!
Right now the focus is on staying healthy, recovering quickly, and building up my mileage and long runs for Western States.
Thank you for all your support on here, on YouTube, and on our “Sage Running” Coaching Website (check out our Training Plans there)!
Like with distance running training, individualization and customization is ideal for “fine tuning the athletic machine.” We are all-different and respond slightly different to various stimuli.
Well for starters you probably all know by now that I have a heavy bias for whole food plant based eating. Highly processed food, food with artificial colors and food with preservatives isn’t that good for you! In closing, people seem to generalize with macronutrient ratios as the “end all” to describing a diet (i.e. Personally I’ve found that a lot of antioxidants (from things like Flora Healthy Green TEA as well as Goji Berries!) and a nice source of Omega-3s and fiber (from Flora Healthy flaxseeds) are part of what keeps me healthy as an endurance athlete. I think we can learn a lot from “Blue Zones”…cultures of people that have thrived with certain types of diets for long periods of time. This is why I believe it’s a “study of many.” We’re all in this together as a human species.
As most of you know by now, I’m not toeing the line at the 2016 US Olympic Marathon Trials next weekend. But it has caused me to look in depth at my own training and progression in running, see some mistakes and areas for improvement, and to ultimately to be thankful for what I have been able to do!
I threw in a mountain-ultra win at the Speedgoat 50km in July and spent summer mountain training in France where I ran the first 40-mile of UTMB in the lead pack before falling and hurting my knee on a rock on the way down….which required stitches and took me out for awhile.
To run a fast marathon again in 2 years (and I do want to qualify for the 2020 US Olympic Trials!) I’ll need more speed and running economy workouts at faster paces as well (high altitude and winter training conditions need to be avoided for that). Right now though, I’m going 100% full fledged into Mountain-Ultra Trail Running and I’d like to finish my first 100-miler this year on the big-stage! As a pro runner I have no excuse not to put in 15-18 hour training weeks (instead of the 14-15 hour ones I’ve only done). A recent stir of events in the MUT Running world has resulted in some rather heated “debates” on social media. However, I don’t want people to take my comments out of context as little snippets here and there posted in threads online can get out of hand quickly!
So the purpose of this blog is to share my opinion on doping in MUT Running and to hopefully provide a little more of where I am coming from in regards to this issue. If you weren’t aware, Lance Armstrong has been quoted in the media as taking up an interest in MUT Running. This past weekend, Lance raced a 35km trail race in California called the “Woodside Ramble” and won overall. I’ve been fairly outspoken about performance-enhancing-drugs (PEDs) in sport and since I depend on running as a major source of income there is a financial stake that I play in being absolutely as competitive as I can be in the sport. So that 3rd point is really important because I sense that some people might (I think wrongly) compare certain mistakes in life to what Lance did and somehow relate by wanting to “give him a second chance.” I think his main second change in life was beating cancer. From my point of view, an athlete like Lance repeatedly made a choice every time he injected that needle.
I also think there is danger in getting too caught up in calling things like weed and caffeine PEDs (which they are of course, but on a much smaller scale), to be remotely on the same level as a heavy hitting substance like EPO. Knowing how a professional athlete’s mind works though, there is seemingly always an intense desire to compete. Because of those reasons I don’t think he deserves the honor of appearing in results alongside the names of clean athletes. The high costs and relatively low effectiveness of drug testing, as well as the lack of drug testing in MUT Running is also a huge barrier that we must address in the future.
If the worlds of cycling, track and field, road marathons and organizations like IAAF have demonstrated anything already, it is that corruption and greed have led to PED usage in sport at all levels. Race To Rescue ePub (Adobe DRM) can be read on any device that can open ePub (Adobe DRM) files.


In an extension of his Vo2max Productions Youtube videos, Sage provides distance runners with training information, nutrition tips, and ultra racing strategies to get the most of the sport. In our Sage Running Secret ebook Sandi and I qualify that as having “consistent variation.” That is the goal is to train well and race routinely well, but with an upward trajectory for adaptation and self improvement (or at least a better running experience and overall health). The continual process of testing and retesting body and mind and searching for improvement is where I get my kicks. I was consistent…but consistently too slow for my goal of running under the US Olympic Trials Marathon standard (which I need up missing by 12 seconds). I executed a race strategy of taking the lead early on the climbs and truly believed that it was best race strategy to try to win the race and run a fast time. However, for the next 1 hour uphill climb segment I split 3-minutes faster than I ever have! Sandi enjoys the view…we stayed in a local apartment here the week before the race to live and train. I am really fortunate and the generosity and positive energy of the running community has really all made this possible. While I agree that our individual differences make us unique, I also believe that we all have a lot more in common than many think (and this includes what may be good for us to eat!). I’ve had blood panels done as a runner to check to make sure my iron levels, B12 levels, magnesium levels and vitamin D levels are in check.
Unlike in many first world countries like the US, these people do not suffer from high rates of coronary heart disease, cancers, diabetes, strokes and obesity as much. The human body is amazing at being able to adapt to eating a very wide variety of foods (we could probably survive on plastic for a while….some highly processed food basically has plastic in it nowadays anyway!)…but some foods definitely are not optimal. You can also listen to just the audio portion of it (as well as some of my other Training Talks) on my podcast stream! Racing 4 marathons in 10 months and mixing in a summer of mountain running is just too much too soon for a top performance. Instead of waiting until the last year before the Olympic Trials marathon I’ll try as soon as the window opens so I’ll have more time to prepare! To take my racing performance up a notch in the sport I think I’ll actually have to get back to those 120-mile+ Training weeks as those are what make my legs really strong (main limiting factor in ultra running for me). I guess in the back of my mind I’ve always been overly cautious to trying to avoid an over-use injury and overtraining that might hurt my endocrine system. This one was captured by Lloyd Beltcher while on a promotional photoshoot in Huangshan China for China Mountain Trails. So naturally being the social-media addict I am, I commented a lot online (was quoted in the Competitor article) and made my own personal posts on Facebook as well as Twitter.
He’s obviously in good shape and can run well, but he’s not going to win any really big-profile MUT Running Race anytime soon. I don’t expect most runners to share this financial stake, but I think that this issue is ultimately not about money anyway (more on this later).
He did it on a very large scale, continued to lie about it, and did it to be at the top of an endurance athletic game.
People also talk about how altitude tents should be banned and worry about pacers during races, but my concern lies mainly with trying to keep our sport clean from those that are really trying to gain the most of an edge. So this means that any private MUT Running Races (most races in the US) are something he can try to enter and compete in. Therapeutic-Use-Exemptions or TUEs (these are notes from doctors in a case by case basis where health problems, genetics and other abnormal readings can be remedied and prescribed legally by doctors) for competing athletes have created a somewhat “gray area.” For more context on that and TUEs search “Nike Oregon Project Doping Allegations”. I’ve read comments from mid-packers convinced that drug-testing costs will raise race registration costs and that doped up competitive elites will take away too many lottery sports from popular races in the future.
Fostering a culture against doping ultimately discourages future use of PEDs and those already juicing will not be able to take away spots from hard working, clean athletes.
However, I believe that promoting a zero-tolerance policy with lifetime bans for these powerful drugs, and an anti-doping culture (which may lead to private races deciding to ban convicted EPO -users from their races) I think is a big step in the right direction to preserving the integrity and pureness of MUT Running…a sport, a hobby, a profession, and a lifestyle that I love. As a Pro mountain-ultra-trail runner Sage has qualified for two US Olympic Trials Marathons on the roads, has a BS from Cornell University, and works as a coach. Much like the variety and spice one needs in a consistently healthy diet, it is all about moderation (but patterns and habits of moderation)…however oxymoronic that may sound.
Comparing myself to my competitors, I also was able to reach the top of the climb on the course (50km mark at over 12,000’ of climbing) in first place whereas in the past Luis and Kilian Jornet had actually passed me before this summit.
I believe this is somewhat common sense, but for some reason people seem to think whole fruit is bad for you. Probably best to avoid these as many also are chock full of extra sugar and sodium and fat that your body simply doesn’t need. It is easy to get biased with yourself and think you are getting a “well rounded diet” when in fact you may be lacking. Why certain “diet cults” don’t focus on these Blue Zones and what they have to offer is beyond me. Now I think a lot of other runners who mix road and mountain-trails can pull it off in a faster timespan (esp if you are newer to the sport or stilling working those PRs down).


I want to be a lifelong runner, and I want to have an ultra competitive career for at least 5 more years (a rather long time frame considering the high attrition rate this sport seems to have with other pros burning out and getting injured left and right) so I do need to pace myself though.
Now this could be a really bad idea, considering it is only 4 weeks after the Houston Marathon and ironically it is going EXACTLY AGAINST what I just preached above…but I really would like to gain entry into Western States ASAP and this is one of the only ways.
I believe a PED like EPO is one of the most powerful in endurance athletics and because of that, I believe that an athlete who is caught using something like that should have to serve a lifetime ban from endurance athletics racing.
But because these races are private and not under the umbrella of one of the aforementioned organizations, the Race Director can theoretically also apply their own policy towards convicted EPO users and barr them from entry (or take them out from the results). Race results, prize money, sponsorship, media exposure, national and world rankings…that is my main job! Again though, my take on PEDs is that there is a spectrum and that punishments and bans should address their power accordingly. I don’t believe the cost of drug testing should have to be covered by those who aren’t competing for prize money. It was a failure because my times didn’t improve and I didn’t meet my ultimate goal, but it was a success because I ran the best marathon performance of my life (16th place at Boston)  – and I sandwiched those road marathons around a strong Speedgoat 50km and mountain training for UTMB . The challenge of trying to complete 100 miles alone in the heat will be plenty enough of a new race stimulus and one I can look forward too. Yeah, it’s a lot of carbs but veggies and fruit are chock full of essential vitamins or nutrients…and the fiber fills you up.
If people just ate on raw emotion and “instinct” (probably too often the case in the US) every meal may very well be from McDonalds or contain donuts! Lots of variables at play there and any study that isolates single nutrients is playing a dangerous game of being inherently flawed to some degree. I knew the timeframe was tight going it in, but (like in 2014 when I raced 8 ultras in a year), I was greedy and I “wanted it all!” Well, I paid the price with some lackluster performances (Comrades probably being my worst race all year and Houston being a close second). But unlike in the past (2014) when I did 8 ultras in a year (and podiumed in all but one) while only training 70-80 miles a week… things are more competitive now!
For those that may have had a slip of judgment in the past and abused a controlled substance or struggled with addiction (i.e. There are always “low key” MUT Running events, group runs, FatAss fun runs and FKTs to chase (although one  may be tempted to flag him on Strava…if he gets a CR!). This is much, much more than just about Lance though (despite me using him perhaps unfairly as a scapegoat). Taking a bunch of caffeine pills and tripping a test is a bit different than injecting EPO. There are general principles and things that most of us may (or should) all have in common. I don’t think any established diet can argue that eating more fruits and veggies is bad for you.
Every probably knows this…but they are so addictive and there are so many products out there!
That would be a really dull move on his part as it can’t be healthy and after beating cancer that would be insane to push his luck again. Furthermore, the dynamic of MUT Running and the culture is changing, but I don’t believe it will ever be flooded with masses of people like road half marathons and marathons are. I personally believe Lance could and should find all his peace outside any formal racing scene. He was a top 3 Trainer in New York 9 Consecutive Years, and the Leading Trainer in New York 6 Consecutive Years.
As they race across the deadly desert, the rescue mission becomes a test--a challenge to see if they can overcome their pride, and their past, in time to save her brother's life.
I don’t think at this point he deserves the media attention and athletic recognition of winning or placing anywhere in race results for any feats of athleticism.
Also, the fact that someone like Lance could easily evade hundreds of tests with ease (and dope while riding in the Tour) just shows the effectiveness of tests. And I feel the same way for any athlete who has been busted for taking a heavy hitting PED like EPO. Every competitive athlete that shows up at a race that mentions testing assumes that if they do well they’ll be tested.
I don’t think some people realize how much of a drug like EPO boosts running performance.
Mirco-dosing to beat the tests before and after races has seemingly allowed many an athlete to slip under the “post-race drug testing” radar over the years. What Lance (or any big-time PED athlete) repeatedly did for years and years cannot be compared at all to what others may or may have not done in the past (with recreational drugs etc) in their prior transgressions.
I believe bio passports can help, but ultimately I think awareness and discussion about the issue is the first step as it hopefully leads to creating positive change.



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