After a four-year absence, Jared Hazen is back at the 2019 Western States 100. In the following interview, Jared talks about how he’s trained consistently since recovering from injury at the end of last summer, what his life and running have looked like since his win of the Lake Sonoma 50 Mile in April, the ways he’s changed as a runner since taking third here in 2015, and how he plans to run for the win this year.
Jared Hazen Pre-2019 Western States 100 Mile Interview Transcript
iRunFar: Meghan Hicks of iRunFar. I’m with Jared Hazen and it’s before the 2019 Western States 100. Hey!
Jared Hazen: Hey! How are you?
iRunFar: Good, how are you doing?
Hazen: I’m doing good.
iRunFar: You’re back at Western States.
Hazen: Yeah, after a four-year break. I’m back to run. I’ve been back for the past two years to crew, but I’m excited to get back out there and run.
iRunFar: Yeah. You were on the start list for this race last year. You ultimately wanted to come back to this race last year but couldn’t due to injury. You’re here now.
Hazen: Yeah, I am. I’m healthy and, I think, ready to run 100 miles.
iRunFar: The last time we saw you was a couple of months ago, after your win at Lake Sonoma 50 Mile. How has your training been since then?
Hazen: Really good. I finished the spring semester a few weeks after that and just kind of settled down into some training. Yeah, the past two months have been really good.
iRunFar: Can you fill us in a little bit? Unlike other people, you’re a little quiet on social media. How has the training been?
Hazen: I would say this training block was about trying to focus about being more patient early in the block. Coming off Lake Sonoma, I knew I had plenty of time to get ready. I just kind of chilled out for a few weeks. I was keeping things lower [volume and intensity] before ramping up before the kind of like real heavy training weeks. I hit those a little bit later in the block. It seemed to work really well. In the middle of June, I started feeling really, really good. I started hitting the back-to-back long runs that are sort of the key indicators that, yeah, I’m ready to go. I hit those a little bit last minute and then went into the taper.
iRunFar: Just in time.
iRunFar: What’s it like? Can you tell me about the feeling of being back at Western States? You said the last time you were here as a runner was 2015, four years ago. You’re a totally different ultrarunner now.
Hazen: Yeah, I’m just really excited about it. 2015, and also 2014 was the first year I ran it, I have really good memories here. It’s kind of a special feeling, coming up the mountain and getting into [Olympic Valley]. Yeah, I’ve kind of got some pre-race nerves going on and I’m just really excited about what could possibly happen on the day.
iRunFar: I think the men’s race this year is a really interesting race. Of course, you’ve got the men’s record holder and your friend, Jim Walmsley, returning. Then you’ve got this huge group of new and upcoming talent with incredible leg speed. What are your feelings about all the guys this year?
Hazen: I think Jim has to be the favorite this year, as the returning champ and course-record holder. Then, like you said, guys like Matt Daniels and Tom Evans…
iRunFar: And you!
Hazen: [Laughs] And me. Guys like that forming a group behind Jim that hasn’t… we haven’t really seen a ton of that in the faster years. I think Jim will be challenged a little bit more this year. It’s always just been Jim goes off the front and nobody goes with him. I think the dynamics will definitely be a lot different this year.
iRunFar: The course is going to be a little bit different from the last time you saw it four years ago. I think this is going to be a snow year in comparison.
Hazen: Yeah, 2015 was pretty dry. If I remember, it wasn’t that hot. It was a high of 91 [degrees Fahrenheit/32 Celsius] in Auburn. Pretty favorable conditions. I think we’re looking pretty decent for Saturday.
iRunFar: Are you going to go check out the snow a little bit in the next couple of days to see what you’re getting yourself into in the early miles?
Hazen: I don’t think so. I’ll probably just keep it flat and kind of easy around here. But we’ve gotten some intel. It will probably be okay.
iRunFar: You think you’ll survive. Can you talk to me about the big picture? Because, correct me if I’m wrong, but it seems like you’ve had a long stretch of consistent and uninjured training and racing. Since early last fall or late last summer, right?
Hazen: Exactly. The injury that took me out of this race last year kind of lasted for a couple months through the summer. I was able to get back running again in August. Honestly, as soon as I got healthy again, my big picture, long-term goal was I wanted to be on the start line of Western States healthy and ready to go. That was helpful going through my season, signing up for races like JFK 50 Mile. I was just like, “There’s no need to do anything crazy in this training block.” It was always a slow build, a little on top of the last one and a little on top of the last one. I didn’t really do these big weeks that I always thought I needed to do until this training block. So, yeah, I haven’t been injured in the last nine months and it seems to be going pretty well.
iRunFar: Before, in talking to you, you have talked about how there is this line you would cross. It would be too many miles or too many hours for a couple weeks in a row, and then you’d get a pretty bad injury. What is that line for you, that you need to stay under until the last couple weeks of training?
Hazen: I guess what I’ve avoided are weeks that have been 150 miles with like 30,000 feet of vert.
iRunFar: How many hours of training is that for you?
Hazen: That’s probably like 23 or 24 hours. So, this block has been a good four weeks around 135 miles with a good 20,000 to 25,000 feet of vert [6,000 to 7,500 meters].
iRunFar: Did you tip the scales at all?
Hazen: I got up to 140, but that was about it.
iRunFar: Did that make you nervous?
Hazen: It did, but I’d say that’s the way I like to train. Do big weeks and show up feeling like I’m prepared. Secondly, this year I’ve been working with a physiotherapist at Paragon Athletics in Flagstaff. We’ve been doing a lot of really good work with correcting some imbalances and overall strengthening.
iRunFar: More preventative type of things.
Hazen: Yeah, and I just never really felt the aches and pains that I was getting worried about. That, to me, was sort of like a green light to go ahead and do some of the heavier training.
iRunFar: Wow, that to me sort of sounds like a new Jared Hazen.
Hazen: Yeah, maybe I’m maturing a little bit.
iRunFar: Or you’re just patient. You’re taking the long view and bigger picture, rather than training moment-to-moment.
Hazen: Yeah, that’s the goal.
iRunFar: So, you’ve run Western States twice before. You had your debut in 2014 and you came back in 2015. In my view you pretty much nailed it, you got a third-place finish in 15:37. In my mind, you’re also a faster runner than 15:37. Four years later, what’s in your head in terms of what you can do here?
Hazen: I guess the big goal is I would really, really love to win this race. I totally think I can run significantly faster than I ran in 2015. I feel like a completely different runner than I was then. Who knows what that means as far as finishing time? I’m just ready to kind of go for it on race day.
iRunFar: So you’re running for the win on Saturday?
Hazen: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s a little riskier and more bold than my approach in 2015.
iRunFar: Say that you do stick it, but one or two people stick it a little bit faster than you. Or it turns into a rough day. Are you prepared for all of the different possible scenarios?
Hazen: Yeah. I think that with 100 miles, nothing is guaranteed. That’s kind of the hard part of 100 miles, it’s just what the day gives you. It’s so hard to plan for. I think I’m ready for whatever the day brings. Taking it one moment at a time, I think, is important in a long race like this.
iRunFar: Well, best of luck to you. We look forward to chasing you from Olympic Valley to Auburn on Saturday.