Friday, 17 April 2020

Jared Hazen

Those who follow the World of ultra running will know who I'm talking about when I say Jared Hazen. But just in case you don't, here's a brief introduction. Jared grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania, where he found cross country and track at high school, triggering his passion for running. After graduation, he bounced around a couple places, working hard and training even harder to have a shot at going pro. After meeting Jim Walmsley (Western States record holder) during a race, the two soon became friends, and would soon enough find themselves roommates in Flagstaff, AZ.

Now onto why he has earned my 'Inspiration of The Month'... Jared began running ultras at the tender age of 17, and has pretty much had success at this since, with the odd DNF thrown in here and there, just like everyone else. Also just like everyone else, is the odd battle with injury. He's seen significant improvement through hard training, both before and after he became a member of the notorious Coconino Cowboys. Being a member of this group however, should draw nothing away from the credit given to Jared as an individual for the drive he has to be the best and train hard.

Jared in action. Shot taken by Rabbitwolf Creative

Just a few of his achievements include a 14th place finish at Western States at the age of just 19 with a time of 17:29:59 (pretty impressive for
2 years of ultras so far if you ask me), his first win at Bigfoot 50k back in 2012 aged just 17, and the now famous 2019 race where he placed 2nd only to Jim Walmsley, his training partner, at Western states in a record-breaking time of 14:26:46. That's over 3 hours shaved off his original time!! Now 25, he continues to train in Flagstaff, but currently somewhat without focus due to Coronavirus cancelling most our races.

Thanks so much Jared, for allowing me to ask you a few questions on training, life and your social mishaps!

Here's how the interview went...

1) Tell us a bit about your family and growing up. Have sports always been important to you?

I'm the youngest of 3 siblings. I have an older brother and older sister. We grew up in a small town in rural Pennsylvania where there's really not much going on. From about age 10 on we lived on an old farm well outside of town so really the only thing to do was things outside. I played all sorts of sports growing up but really enjoyed hunting and golf the most. Both activities that my dad introduce me to and we did together. Around age 13 I stumbled upon cross country at our school just as something to do after school. From there running really took hold and that became what I did all the time. 

2) Did you come up against a lot of resistance, starting ultras at such a young age? There has been pretty conflicting opinions on whether young bodies can cope with the pounding and injuries caused by the sport.

Only a little bit of resistance. Everyone once in a while someone would have a negative remark about me running ultras at a young age. Usually it was just through the internet and never meant much to me. I had much more support getting in to ultras at a young age than pushback. 

3) Would you say you've always had the confidence to compete an elite level, or have you experienced more of an imposter syndrome feeling?

 I haven't always had the confidence to compete at an elite level, but I gained the confidence in time. Through the hard training is where I gained a lot of confidence. I always felt like if I put in the work that I deserved to be contending for the win in a race. When I started running ultras I would always run a conservative race and had some success finishing on podiums, but eventually I knew if I wanted to be winning races I needed to be taking more risks. My desire to win finally grew strong enough to where I was willing to go out and take some big risks. I've had race wins and major blows ups. At this point I would say the blow ups don't bother me as much, I realize that they're part of my journey to accomplishing bigger things.

4) Would you say you are a ritualistic person (ie needing to use the same coffee mug each morning like me), or are you able to go with the flow?

I'm very much a go with the flow person. I think in ultrarunning its an important quality to have. 

5) What's one thing not many people know about you?

One thing people probably don't know about me is that only a couple days after graduating high school I packed a couple of bags and had a one way flight to Jackson Wyoming where I would work as a housekeeper in Grand Teton National Park for the summer. From there I moved to Colorado Springs, CO and began to have some success in ultrarunning, but I think that first move I made was pretty critical for putting me on the right trajectory. 

6) Would you say nutrition has played an important role in your successes, or do you take a more relaxed approach to diet?

I definitely have a relaxed approach to diet. My approach is to try to get in some good stuff and restrict nothing. I focus on having healthy meals, but at the same time will finish a lot of nights with ice cream before going to bed. So, I think there's room for everything.

7) What would be your top tip to a person just starting out in ultra running?

I would say don't complicate things. 95% of it is just getting out and running. There's no need to stress over what specific workouts to do or the latest recovery tool. Ultrarunning is a simple sport. 

8) You are currently a student at Northern Arizona University. Any advice on balancing studies with running?

I'm probably not the greatest at balancing it all, but I think its all about what you make a priority. For me I make the time for running first and then find the time I need for studying. I would also say that when I study I use my time very efficiently. I put my phone down and focus on doing work. Also, I always look at how I get a grade in class. Sometimes the assignments that aren't worth much percentage of your grade aren't worth stressing about. I skip assignment like that all the time. I'm less worried about doing everything perfect and more concerned with doing the important things well.

9) How are you currently coping with the lockdown due to covid-19? Have you needed to change anything training wise?

I'm coping with the pandemic much like everyone else. Staying home and avoiding unnecessary trips out. Luckily here in Flagstaff we are still able to go outside to run. There are so many trails here it is easy to stay away from people. None of the trails have gotten too crowded yet. As far as training adjustments, I'm just trying to keep things at a sustainable volume for the time being since I don't know the next time I'll get to race. 

10) What was your most humiliating High School moment? I'm sure we've all had them!

I always had to catch a bus pretty early in the morning just after 7 o'clock so morning were always pretty rushed. One day I grabbed my backpack and got on the bus, by the time I got to school I realized my bag was soaking wet. Turns out my dog peed on it the night before so I walked around school that day with a bag and notebooks covered in piss.

Thanks so much again, Jared, for allowing me to nag you with questions. I hope this forced period of rest recharges you for when we can watch you race again! Thanks for being an inspiration.

Hope you enjoy everyone, get out there and enjoy a run (unless it's against your lockdown rules)!

Love Helen

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