Not only is Scotty Hawker one of the leading ultra trail athletes on the planet, but he’s an amazing coach too! He’s using the knowledge he’s gathered from years of travelling the globe and learning from the best runners and coaches, to now help others achieve the most out of themselves as trail runners. We’re super stoked that he’s taken the time to share some of his wisdom with those of you taking on Ultra-Trail Australia!
- Focus on improving your running economy as well as focusing on stairs… So many athletes get caught up with thinking about the stairs and hiking in the UTA races that they forget to go back to basics and continue to work on an area that will help their running right across the board, regardless of terrain. Despite there being lots of stairs there’s also a lot of super runnable stuff in between, regardless of whether you finish in 9hrs or 28hrs. Beginners could try adding in 20-40sec strides during easy runs or at the end of recovery runs, and more advanced runners could incorporate this during longer sessions. Something as simple as 5-8×20-40sec faster efforts with 90-120sec easy running between on flat terrain, with the focus on being smooth is a great starting point. Think ‘just fast enough to get a sweat up’. These strides can also be done on hills with easy jog down recoveries. You don’t want fatigue impacting the form during these efforts so keep things smooth and pretty effortless.
- As you get closer to race day make sure you’re getting out there with the same race pack and gear that you’ll be using on race day. It’s also important to think about how you pack your race pack, where you’re putting everything and what you want easy access to. Making sure you won’t have a head torch digging into your back as soon as you take your rain jacket out is one of the things to think about. I’ve found that adding in a running band to your race kit can enable you to have easy access to hiking poles, nutrition, beanie/buff and gloves etc. I often also put my rain jacket into my Naked Running band for easy access which helps me regulate my body temp better throughout the race if the conditions aren’t great.
- Don’t throw your race away during race week. After putting in so many hours, sacrificing time away from family and committing so much to this race, it seems crazy to do things during race week that would jeopardise your race day. I like to try and plan everything out as if the race is the weekend before it actually is. This means finalising race nutrition plans, checking you have everything you need, preparing dropbag checklists etc. Hopefully through planning all of this in advance it’ll enable you to have a bit more time during race week to bag a little extra sleep, and it will also put your mind at ease knowing that the bulk of the preparation has been done.
- Remember that the section from around Scenic World to Queen Victoria Hospital sucks for everyone. Despite being crazy beautiful, and amazing single track, this section of the race is tough for the person in first place right through to the last athlete through. Cut yourself some slack through here, look ahead when you can do so safely, and try to pick good foot placements. Use hand railings to your aid and just try to be as smooth through here as you can. Hopefully through not beating yourself up too much because of the challenging terrain you’ll be in a better headspace and able to enjoy the trails more, which will get you to the QVH checkpoint a little sooner.
- Have as much fun as you possibly can out there! Talk to people around you and say hello & thank you to volunteers. Any love and energy you put out there on race day will come right back to you, and I think that’s what it’s all about. You’ll feel awesome and I can 100% guarantee that the more fun you have out there the better your race will unfold. It’ll make the good times on the trail even better, and it’ll help you get out of any tough moments (they will happen) a little more quickly. Smiling throughout the race as if there’s a photographer around every corner will help the effort feel a little easier too!
If you’re interested in being coached by one of the best, then email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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