If you’ve ever Googled running training videos (after you’ve exhausted all the Runner’s World ones, obv), you may well have come across American runner Sage Canaday.

The US trail runner has been making videos about training and racing since the early days of YouTube, and is a highly influential and successful runner in his own right.

But last year he had a particularly tough year, and as a filmmaker himself has documented it in a newly released short film, Starting Over.

The film follows Sage as, at the start of 2021, he begins to develop breathing difficulties while running. What’s initially diagnosed as pneumonia ends up being ‘substantial blood clots in both lungs’ caused by a bilateral pulmonary embolism.

This completely derails his life and his training, as he can barely run for more than a minute without needing to walk to get his breath back.

If that wasn’t enough to deal with, in October 2021, a fire rips through his apartment complex in Boulder while he’s away, destroying everything he and his partner owned.

But this only makes the runner more determined to come back stronger to the sport he loves, and as you’ll see in the film, he remains positive and upbeat despite all that’s thrown at him during these tough times, proving an inspiration to runners and non-runners alike.

You’ll see him gradually recover and build up his strength, eventually setting himself a ‘sea to summit to sea challenge’ in Hawaii to test where his lungs are at – 10,000m of climbing over 37 miles while dodging feral pigs and wild goats.

sage canaday film

(Spoiler alert: he takes the new FKT for the ascent in 4:08:33, before heading back to the sea to complete the round trip FKT in 7:06:29, providing a huge boost to his confidence in his recovery.)

The success of the challenge lets him aim for something bigger: the Canyons 100K in April this year. We see Sage training towards that comeback, largely by cranking up the vert on his treadmill and spending hours and hours grinding out the miles.

He also reveals that he has to exercise his lungs too, or as he says ‘do strength training for his lungs’, to improve their efficiency via medical breathing apparatus.

It all builds to Sage’s return to competitive racing, running 100K with 15,000ft of elevation gain, as he pushes his lungs to their limit. Watch the film below to find out how he fares…

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