Sally McRae, also known as the Yellow Runner, is one active athlete, on and off the trails. Last year was a major win for Sally as she won the World’s Toughest Footrace, the Badwater 135, a goal she had been working towards for 10 years. Sally is not only an athlete, but a mother, a trainer, a running coach, and a successful business owner. This year her schedule is jam-packed with several different projects that we are super excited to share with you.
First off Sally, how did you get started with Spring Energy?
I love this story! Rafal blindly emailed me one day and I happened to see it come through. I get a lot of junk mail, but at the time he emailed, I was in a serious hunt for a better fueling option, so I was curious. I was getting sick of consuming so much sugar/junky ingredients found in a lot of sports nutrition and the way Rafal described his product was like nothing I had ever tried. That was in 2016 when the company was still new, so I had never heard of them. Rafal sent me some products and for the next few months I tested it out. I think he thought I wasn’t interested at first because I took my time. (I am fairly picky about the products I use and endorse and I wanted to make sure that Spring truly worked for me). As I got to know Rafal I could tell he was extremely passionate about Spring and believed in the company. I was especially drawn to that because I love working alongside people who are passionate and work hard. Rafal is one of the hardest workers I know and so it was such a privilege to sign with Spring and work on a product together. Over the years, Rafal has become a dear friend and even crewed and paced me at my first Badwater where I accredit him greatly for helping me fuel to the finish line. Watching Spring evolve over the years has been so inspiring to me. I have had a front row seat to watching someone like Rafal give his heart and hard work for something he truly loves. Spring is an incredible product and it’s amazing to see the top athletes in our sport from around the world use it too!
You have been running ultras for about 13 years now. How do you continue to thrive?
I started ultrarunning in 2009 and fell in love with it from day one! I believe, like all things, that enthusiasm and gratitude are at the root of thriving in anything we do. If you have a true, raw love for something and you find joy in it, you can be unstoppable. There have been many seasons in my life where I did things because I had to or because I needed a job to pay bills, and I always knew those things wouldn’t last because I had no passion for them. But there are two things in my life that I believe I will do or will be a part of my life in some capacity and that is running and writing. I have loved these things regardless of money, attention, prizes, etc and I believe they will always be a part of my life.
Winning Badwater last year was a huge goal and accomplishment. What is next for you race wise?
Thank you! I have several races planned for this year and so far, none of them are in the United States. I have been given the opportunity to race in some beautiful places that have been on my bucket list for quite some time and I look forward to sharing the experiences with everyone. I will be racing 100ks and 100 mile races this year.
Tell us about your upcoming book?
My book is a memoir chronicling my life’s journey from childhood to today. My single motivation for writing it has been to bring hope to others. It is the single hardest project I have ever worked on in my life - it’s fairly raw and vulnerable, but I believe in the message and hope it will change at least ONE life.
We see a lot of Instagram posts on strength training videos. Why is this so important for runners?
Strength training has always been important to me since I was in high school. I love feeling strong and have always believed that strong bodies can endure life a little better, and not just for ourselves but in helping others. I started sharing my workouts back in 2007 and began creating video workouts in 2009 (which I have removed because they’re so terrible ha ha!). I love helping people and being a voice of encouragement for anyone looking to get stronger. Although, I am a runner and speak to runners the most, I believe every person regardless of activity, should strength train. As an ultra and mountain runner, I have been able to stay injury free for almost a decade and I can endure in the later stages of long races because my body is strong. When I first started in the endurance community, especially while getting my coaching certifications, I was often criticized and looked down upon for spending so much time in the gym or encouraging runners to lift weights. Today, a different message is being told and it excites me to see more and more endurance athletes taking strength training seriously. Cool thing is, even when you’re not training for a race, you can use that strong body to lift your children, help a neighbor with yard work, or go on an outdoor adventure with your friends. Being strong improves your quality of life far beyond running.
Tell us about your new strength app and why people should download it.
My strength app is a dream come true! Truly something that I have desired for almost 15 years. I sought out creating some type of video series, dvd series, online program, etc for a long time and hit so many dead ends mainly because of bandwidth and finances. As my coaching business grew, I realized I was only able to take on a small handful of athletes while juggling my contracting business, training, parenting, traveling, etc. I was having to turn away people asking about coaching every day and that really frustrated me, especially because I do find joy in helping others achieve their goals. The app allows me to coach to the masses and it allows me to create on a regular basis and connect with new people every day. I upload new workouts weekly and interact with the members in my private FB community. I think my app is unique because I not only bring almost two decades of run coaching and strength training expertise, but I am an athlete myself as well as someone who loves being a mama and biz owner. So my workouts are hyper focused on what truly works for the athlete, beginner to elite, as well as the busy family or career person. There are follow along programs as well as stand alone workouts. I include both running and strength training sessions and even guide runners through self-assessments to discover their weaknesses and where they need to improve. My hope is for more endurance athletes to see strength training as the key to longevity not only in their sport but to reaching that next level of fitness, speed, and total well being.
Any FKTs or passion projects coming up?
Yes! I have been working on a couple projects with my wonderful sponsors and will share about them later this year…they’re gonna be awesome!!
What is a typical training week like for you?
Monday - I typically begin each week on Monday with easy running, mobility and core work. It’s also one of my longest days in the office so I don’t do any hard workouts.
Tuesday-Friday - I train pretty hard these days mainly because I can do longer efforts while the kids are in school. My son and daughter are athletes so I am busy cheering for them on the sidelines on the weekends. On these days, I am in the mountains once or twice and in the gym every day focusing on a specific strength workout.
Saturday/Sunday - If I can get a long effort in, then I will be in the canyons or on the road. I try to stay close to home on the weekends for the kiddos and knowing that when it’s time to race, I will be away so I like to keep the balance as best I can.
What type of gear do you use?
If I’m in the mountains, I pack a massive hydration pack and fill it with lots of Spring, enough gear to spend the night in (just in case), trekking poles, headlamp, phone, and lots of water.
What are your nutrition and electrolyte go-to’s?
Aside from Spring, I like real food options so I will bring a LaraBar or dried fruit, peanut butter sandwiches, and tangerines.
Does your nutrition change during race week and race day? Post race?
Race week - I load up a bit more on carbs and plain food but nothing fancy. If I’m in another country, I try to go to the market and I typically eat a lot of peanut butter sandwiches, bananas, rice, oatmeal, and very basic food in order to keep the belly happy. I love to eat and think it’s important to eat a little more during race week, especially because I typically race 100 mile events. Post race my weight will drop a little bit and so I eat extra meals because it helps me recover faster. I eat a lot of protein and will eat donuts to get my weight up. Also I super LOVE donuts! ha!
Rapid Fire Questions:
Current go-to shoe: Road: the Nike Invincible Trail: Nike Wildhorse
Favorite distance to run: 100 miles
Favorite place to run/explore: European alps…particularly the Italian alps surrounding Aosta Valley…it’s my dream to live there one day.
Race you haven’t done that you really want to race: Mount Fuji and Madiera
Favorite non-running thing to do: Literally anything involving my two kiddos and husband. We bike ride as a family quite a bit. I also love to explore cities by foot, thrift shop, and go to bookstores, and anything that involves food. I love to eat and it’s one of my favorite things to do when I travel - find all the good coffee shops, bakeries and of course find the best hamburger!
Favorite Spring Flavors: It changes depending on the duration and climate! I consumed about 70 apple flavored Spring during Badwater and still eat that one the most. Close second is my personal flavor (chocolate) and the strawberry!
Thanks for taking the time to chat with us, Sally! We are so fortunate to have you as part of Spring!
Interview by Spring Team Manager Isabella Janovick