Training Notes: Ultra-distance Trail Runner Ryan Sandes

, September 1, 2017

Few cities in the world can match Cape Town’s might backdrop, a patch of earth that rises a full 1000m practically a stone’s throw from the ocean. For trail runner Ryan Sandes, this piece of work offers and office and platform for a career which continues to rise to new heights, most recently with victory in the Western States 100 in Lake Tahoe, California. Red Bull produced a clip covering the race and how Sandes’ priorities have changed in his life since his first attempt in 2012.

Where do you usually train?

When I am at home in Cape Town I do a lot of my training on Table Mountain – it’s on my back doorstep and has some great variety in trails.

How important is location for your training – access to terrain or facilities?

It is important to make the best with what you have access to but I am really spoilt living on the back slopes of Table Mountain. The conditions are great for training but since Cape Town is at sea level, we lack the altitude.

What does a typical week look like when you’re at your home base?

It depends what race or event I am training for. I would say on average I now do about 12 to 15 hours of running a week. I also do about 3 hours of strength work and mobility to keep my body moving correctly.

What kind of training do you do when you’re short of time?

Luckily with running you can get a really good work out in with limited time. There is a small peak next to Table Mountain called Lions Head – if I am short on time it is always nice to go up and down Lions Head. It can be quite an intense workout and is fairly technical towards the top.

Photo: Corinna Halloran / Red Bull Content Pool

Do you mainly train alone or with other people or groups?

I do a lot of training on my own but have some training buddies too. I guess I do 80% of my running on my own.

How does your winter training differ from your summer training?

In Cape Town our winters are very mild so I can run all year round. I do try and take a month or two off over the summer (US and European winter) to do a strength block of training.

How has your training evolved in the course of your career?

After battling with mononucleosis in 2015 and a bit of overtraining syndrome, I have reduced my training and racing a bit. I try to focus more on specific blocks of training and incorporate more rest in my training and racing now. I want to prolong my career so rest is important.

How important is nutrition for you?

I don’t follow a strict diet but I try and eat organic and whole foods. It’s important to eat a good diet and fuel your body properly.

What are your nutrition secrets, recipes or snacks that everyone should think about using?

I am a big believer in bone broth – it is great for recovery.

What other parts of your work are important for your career, but aren’t specifically to do with training? What is important “behind-the-scenes” work?

In order to be a sponsored athlete, you have to give your dream gives a good return on investment. That includes being a good ambassador and having a following. I spend a lot of time on social media, doing work with media, planning projects etc. It is a full-time job and I work longer hours than when I worked a 9-5 job, but I love what I do!

Follow Ryan on Instagram to take a closer at his training, and to build your own pot of terrain envy. Next up for Ryan is the UTMB in Chamonix, follow the race here. Header photo: Craig Kolesky / Red Bull Content Pool