(Photo Credit: @trailjunkiephotos)
Hayden Hawks is an UltraRunner from St. George, Utah. Hayden found his love for running when he got cut from his high school baseball team for being too small. He excelled on his high school cross-country team and went on to run for Southern Utah University where he earned Division I All-American status. Hayden was a great cross-country runner but he has found his niche in UltraRunning where he has become one of the fastest long-distance runners in the world. We had the chance to interview Hayden to learn more about how he has spent his summer social distancing and what his favorite shoe is from Altra!
What do you do to get yourself out of a slump?
Slumps are pretty common in UltraRunning or any endurance sport. You're always going to go through these ups and downs in training, and it's just important that you don't think too much into it. Me personally, I just realize that those hard times are going to come, those slumps are going to come, and I just need to keep training, keep pushing through it. Definitely make sure that you don’t overwork during that period of time, and make sure you’re being smart with your training. It helps me to think, "all the running that I'm doing now, all the miles that I'm putting in right now are going to pay off in the long run even though I don’t feel great at this time. I'm not going to feel great or 100% in any ultramarathon that I do so this is teaching me how to get through those hard times in races as well." So, that's what I think when I go through those slumps. They happen all the time, they happen for elite runners, they happen for back of the pack runners, we're all the same. The body is just learning how to adapt and become better and sometimes you have to go through a slump to get better at what you do.
What is your favourite Altra running shoe/product?
My favorite Altra running shoe is the Altra Timp 2.0. I've recently won some races in that shoe, so it's a good race shoe. But it's also a good long run and good mountain shoe that I can go out and spend many hours in the mountains in that shoe. It's really responsive, it’s got great grip on the bottom and I feel like I can use it in a variety of different terrains whether that be desert or mountain, it works great in both of those areas. Where I live in Southern Utah we have both so being able to have a shoe that's versatile and can handle any terrain that I put it through is an awesome shoe to have.
What is the main thing you look for in your partnerships with brands?
The main thing I look for in my partnership with brands is that they're willing to involve me in the process of developing shoes, involving me in the company and in the brand. If I'm going to work with a brand I want to be totally invested in that brand. I want to feel like I'm a part of the family and that they actually care about my opinion and care about what I'm saying as an athlete because as an athlete I am putting more time and miles on their shoes or their products than probably anybody out there. I'm testing them on really hard terrains and really hard workouts, and so the things that I have to say I think can really help the product and development and help the shoes. So, a brand that involves me in that process and really listens to what I have to say and cares about me as an athlete, it means a lot to me. It's more important that I have that kind of relationship with my brand than any money or anything else because I like being involved and having that opportunity to help a brand grow.
What has been your "go-to" activity or hobby during these last few months of isolation and social distancing?
It's been kind of difficult because I haven't been able to race these last few months and racing is a big part of who I am, that's why I train so hard is so I can race. I really enjoy it. I really enjoy testing myself and seeing what I can do up in the mountains. So, during this time instead of having the opportunity to race and travel like we usually do I've been camping a lot with my family. We have been going out and exploring areas locally that we’ve always wanted to but never had the opportunity to since we travel so much with racing and training. We’ve had a lot of opportunities to check out some cool spots around Zion and the Bryce and different mountain ranges in the area. It’s been awesome to be able to have that experience. I bring my two-year-old son out there with us and he loves it, he loves camping more than anything. He has a blast being in the outdoors and he wants to be outside all the time, so it's awesome that we're able to be out there camping with him. That's probably been our biggest thing, it's also a great way for us to socially distance because we usually just go out and find some random campsite in the middle of nowhere and it's just us out there and we spend weekends or weeks out there. It's a great way for us to get out, explore nature, have fun, run some new trails, and socially distance in the whole process.
How do you prepare for a race? Do you have any rituals?
I don't know, that's kind of hard. I'm not a very ritual person I guess you'd say. I just love to run. Honestly, I consider myself more of a soul runner, being in the mountains, or being in the trails is what I look forward to every morning when I wake up. And racing is the same way, I kind of look at it the same way, this is a great opportunity for me to go have an adventure but push myself in that adventure. I’d say if anything it’s probably just to give my wife a kiss before I do the race. I guess my ritual is for her to be there, I usually like to take her and my son to as many races as I possibly can and before every race I'll give her a kiss, if I'm able to, and I'll go to the starting line and start the race.
What is that one show that you re-watch all the time? Maybe you've watched it from start to finish more than once?
Probably Parks & Rec. I love Parks & Rec. I'm always in for a good laugh and when I'm out there by myself all the time in the mountains I get a little bored sometimes, or feel like I can't really laugh at myself all the time. So, coming home and being able to throw on some Parks & Rec and have some humor in my life, laugh a little bit and lighten up is always a good thing for me. Makes me feel happy. Makes me feel like I loosen up and recover faster. I'll come home from runs a lot of the time and throw on Parks & Rec and me and my family enjoy watching it together. So that's probably the TV show that I watch the most I'd say.
What’s your recovery routine? Favourite recovery meal?
My favorite way to recover would be with lots of food. Drink as much liquids as I possibly can. Where I live in Southern Utah we have a lot of Mexican food, and really really good Mexican food, so I love eating Mexican food and it's my favorite food out there. When I get home from a run I'll down a huge thing of horchata, which is like a cinnamon rice milk which is amazing for recovery. Then I usually get myself a huge plate of nachos or a big burrito or something like that. Honestly, that's my favorite way to recover- to sit down, watch some Parks & Rec, and eat a bunch of Mexican food. Then after that I might throw in the recovery boots or roll my legs out or something like that. But first, it's getting that food in because usually after a big mountain day I'm just starving and I want to get as many calories in as I possibly can.
What is your guilty pleasure?
I'm a huge baseball fan and I'm kind of a nerd when it comes to baseball, and I love stats actually. I'll just sit down at the computer and go through stats, write stats down and calculate things. It’s this nerdy part of me that loves statistics, and loves baseball and sporting statistics. I’m really big into baseball and basketball and just kind of averaging out stats and seeing what people could average by the end of the year and different things like that. It’s kind of a weird thing since I’m a “mountain athlete” I guess you would say, but I love those types of things.
Rapid Fire Q&A
What did you eat for breakfast?
What chore do you hate doing?
Cleaning the toilets
If you could buy any type of food right now what would it be?
What colour is your toothbrush?
What’s your favourite fruit?
Are you a morning person or night person?
Definitely a night person
What is your favourite season?
Summer- because I can be in the mountains more
What is your least favourite type of music?
Have you ever worn socks with sandals?
Yes, many times, everyday
What is your favourite movie?
The Count of Monte Cristo
(ed. note: interview has been edited for length and clarity)