By Amit Mehta Pre-Race Interviews

Hayden Hawks – TNF50

Thanks for taking the time to speak with us, Hayden. You’re coming off of a big win at UTMB CCC, and now have your eyes set on the covetted TNF 50 in SF this coming weekend. Here are a few questions that can give all of us a better insight into your preperations & race plans for TNF.

How long did the recovery post UTMB CCC take, and how many weeks of a TNF specific training block have you put in? 

After CCC I was able to recover fairly quickly! I had a great day at CCC and my nutrition and everything went perfectly. When I finished the race I honestly felt like I could’ve kept running. I believe that this helped me be able to recover fast! I also kept on my nutrition with Unived products and used all the recovery products (RRUNN Post-Recovery Mix, Supergreens, Super Masala Mix, Ovegha D3, etc)  that I could. My new plant based diet really helped as well I feel! The week after the race I was able to run but just a little bit. The next week I was able to get a good week of training and vert training in. 3-4 weeks after the race and I felt fully recovered and was able to start doing fast and hard workouts and was running them even faster than I did before! I was able to get an 11 week training block in and it was a great one!

What are some of the key differences between training for UTMB CCC, which is a technical course, and TNF SF, which is a pretty fast course. 

There are a lot of differences in the type of training. UTMB CCC is a lot of technical mountain training with lots of vert training and time on the feet. TNF SF is a faster runnable course with lots of fast ups and fast downs. They actually work together pretty well. I was able to do a lot of vert training and get really strong and tough physically and mentally for CCC. I also became a better technical trail runner and learned how to suffer better. Now the technical sections on TNF SF are nothing and I am able to power up the runnable hills easier and faster! I did have to transition into some faster leg speed type training though. This was tough at first, but I was able to do it and get some good quality workouts in! I feel fast and strong now and ready for anything that this course has to offer!

Photo: Derrick Lyte

The famous ‘Miller Vs Hawks’ video went viral last year, and was perhaps the most watched trail running video on Youtube. Will we see a repeat this year? 

It will all determine what Zach decides to do. I am planning on running my race and doing what I feel comfortable with. I know if I do this it will be hard to beat me. We will just have to see what Zach and others decide to do. You can’t let others dictate what you do. There are some great athletes coming this year though and we hope to put on a good show!

Who would you say is your main competition this year, and how do you feel the race will pan out? 

I feel like my training has been great leading into the race. I have a good strategy and if everything works out it will be hard to beat me. I can only control what I can do though and if someone has a better day than me at my best I can’t control that. With guys like Time Frericks, Max King, Zach Miller, Tayte Pollman, and others it will be exciting to watch and more exciting to participate in. I believe it will be a fast day and we will all be hurting, it will all be determined on who can hurt the most. I am very humbled and grateful to be apart of this.

Going for the win? Thoughts? 

I am always going for the win. This is why I train so hard and make sure that I am prepared. I feel like it would be disrespectful to not be prepared and train hard. My sponsors, family, friends, and fans do too much for me. I believe that I can win this race and will be stronger and more experienced that last year. It will be a fun race and I hope to have the best day that I can.

Unived & you started working together shortly after Transvulcania. You’ve been training with our products and have used them at a few races, one of which was UTMB CCC ~ what was your nutrition strategy at UTMB and how did you rotate our produts? 

At UTMB CCC I used numerous Unived products. Throughout the race I used the RRUNN Salted Carmel Gels sipping on the Unived flask throughout. I also used RRUNN Electrolyte Salt Caps taking one every hour of the race. At the aid stations I would drink RRUNN During-Hydration Mix. The RRUNN Post-Recovery Mix and Supergreens were taken before the race and after in my preparations. I love the products and am excited to use the same products for this race as well as the new Ultra Butter and Nootro-Peak! Putting all the products together and using them at the right time really makes a difference as we could see at UTMB CCC!

After we got together, you’ve made a conscious decision to go Vegan. How do you feel training & racing on a plant-based diet? 

I feel so much better and healthier switching to a plant-based diet. It really has changed my life and helped me recover faster and be able to train harder. I am in the best shape of my life and I feel like a lot of that is because of the plant-based diet. I am running workouts faster than ever and races are going great. I believe that it will only get better as I continue to eat this way and implement more nutrition changes! I am very happy with this decision.

Your top 3 Unived products, and why?

1. RRUNN Electrolyte Salt Caps. I really feel a difference when I take these. In the past I had issues with cramping during races and tried many products. None of them worked as good as these do and they don’t give me any stomach problems at all.  There is now a version of this with Caffeine which I love even more and can get you going!
2. RRUNN Ultra Butter. This product is great during races and long training sessions giving you the energy you need helping relieve hunger, and provided the nutrients you need. It is also good on your toast in the moring, sandwich, or a quick snack in the middle of the day. I love the taste and could eat it all day!
3. RRUNN Post-Recovery Mix. I take this after every hard workout or long run up in the mountains! This helps me recover quicker and be able to get right back to hard training the next day. Being able to do this makes me faster overtime and feel better. It also helps me recover after hard races and tastes amazing with great health benefits that are not found in other similar products.

Photo: Derrick Lyte

We’ve been working on a special product for you. How does it feel to have your own nutrition product coming out soon, any hints to your fans??

I am really excited about this and it is a dream come true. I will actually be using this flavor of gel in my race at TNF SF. You will like the flavor that we decide on, I promise! Gels are a big part of my racing because they are quick, easy, and packed with the things you need to run fast. Now I get to put my spin on it and it really is amazing to have a company that is like family to me and willing to do this!

Any giveaways on your race strategy for TNF?

I found that my race strategy for CCC went really well and I felt strong and amazing at the end. I am thinking of doing something similar but a little faster based on the course. We will see how it plays out with the other runners though. Sometimes you have to adjust when you’re racing for the win and you can’t be afraid to do that. I plan on running my race and dictating the race how I see it going. There is a lot of power when you can control things. We plan on putting on a show for everyone though, so get excited!

You have a big following in India ~ when do you visit??

I plan on coming to India next year in September sometime. My wife, I, and the baby plan on being in India for 2-3 months! We are so excited to come and experience this beautiful country. We love the Indian culture and food and this has always been a dream of ours. We will visit Bombay, go to Southern India for the Malnad Ultra, and then spend some time in Manali and explore the Himalayas and do some great altitude training! We want to get the full Indian experience!

You’ve recently started your coaching business. A message to those who are reading this and may be looking for a coach?

I have partnered up with my Coach Nate Houle at We are coaching all runners from track and field, road running, cross country, and ultra marathon and trail! We have already helped many people run big personal bests, qualify for the Boston Marathon, get fit, and finish and win big races around the world. We are coaching people from all over the world and offer specialized training with specific workouts and mileage fit to your needs and goals! We are excited to work with many people of all ages and talent levels. Part of the training will also include nutrition advice, physiology advice, weight training, injury prevention, race strategy, and an open communication.

Unived & you – what’s the future?
The future is definately bright! I plan on helping Unived here in the United States and building the brand across the world! I hope to be with company for a long time and using these amazing products to fuel wins and course records at the biggest races across the world! This has been an amazing company to work with so far with amazing people running it! The nutrition changes has changed my life forever and I couldn’t be more happier to have joined the Unived family!

Photo: Derrick Lyte
In Photo: Hayden Hawks & Amit Mehta

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