The term “long-distance running” is pretty arbitrary when you think about it. For some of us, long-distance running means going on a five-mile jog. For others, it’s competing in a 26.2-mile marathon. And for ultrarunners like Jared Hazen and Mayra Garcia, it’s waking up before the crack of dawn to run 50 or 100 kilometers over the span of a full day. 

That last group of people are outliers, of course, but over the past decade, there has been an increase in distance runners gravitating towards ultrarunning. We got to talk to Jared and Mayra about why they choose this extreme sport, what their workout regimen is like, and what HOKA products they use to train in.

Why did you get into ultrarunning?

Jared: I started running through competing in cross country and track. Once I was in high school, I was introduced to the trails through one of my high school coaches. I grew up in a pretty small town but we happen to have an ultramarathon that was pretty popular in the area, so I started running those trails more. Once I started learning more about ultrarunning, I was pretty fascinated by how somebody could run like 100 miles when I was only going out on the weekends and running 20 miles and getting destroyed on the trails. So it really was that fascination that led me to ultrarunning.

Mayra: I had a great coach and motivator. When I was running cross country, I didn’t know that there were races more than 3.1 miles. And my coach said that I could do more, do a marathon, and I just fell in love with it after that. My coach also told me that I would get stronger in road races if I started running trails too. So that’s really how I found ultrarunning and trail running.

How do you train for such a rigorous event like an ultramarathon?

Jared: I train year-round and there’s a certain focus on fitness that I really apply across a lot of different distance races. But when it comes to my specific training for ultras, once it gets closer to those races I ramp up the intensity of my training and focus on the long runs. I live in Flagstaff, so the Grand Canyon is only an hour and a half away, so that’s one of my favorite training spots. I’ll just go there and do 20 or 30 mile runs. When I’m getting ready for a long race, I usually get in three or more 20+ mile runs a week.

Mayra: I like to just put in miles. I also think recovery is a big part of getting my body ready for these longer races too. Every two weeks I get massages to make sure that I don’t get injured. But really it’s all about running A LOT. During the week, I like to stay on roads so I don’t lose my speed. I see my coach on Mondays and Wednesdays, so on a typical Monday we do the track. I do 400s and build myself up to 1600s. And on Wednesdays, we do tempo runs and hill repeats. When I’m on my own on Tuesdays, I do long, easy runs, and then on the weekends I run through the mountains. If I can, I’ll run the actual race trail itself to see where I can pick up and gain some time so I’m ready for race day. But usually I’m running like 10 to 20 miles on those days.

What has been the highlight of your running career so far?

Jared: I would say the runner-up finish at Western States (a 100-mile endurance run in Northern California). I have a fairly long history with Western States. I ran it in 2014 and 2015 and then didn’t run it for a few years. I got back into it last year and had a great race. I’ve really seen a nice progression there too. The first year I ran it, it took me about 17 ½ hours, and five years later it only took me 14 ½. It’s nice to see that type of progression and know that the work I’m putting in year after year is paying off.

Mayra: I think just running the 50ks around my area. Running is a small world – everyone knows everyone in the running community and that’s been a highlight for me. A lot of people got to see where I started, running 3:40 or 3:50 marathons and then got to see me drop down to 3:20 and win some of our local races. It’s awesome to see them smile or come congratulate me on the work I’ve done over the years. That’s what makes me truly happy.

What HOKA products do you use for your training?

Jared: My go-to training and racing shoe has been the Speedgoat, which is convenient. It’s a shoe that I can train in all the time, and it’s also a high-performance shoe that I can take and race in. It’s nice because on race day, it’s nothing new. It’s a shoe I’ve run hundreds of miles in. It’s lightweight, it’s got protection, it’s got grip. I pretty much take it anywhere, even the Grand Canyon.

Mayra: I use all their stuff. Seriously, all of it. For marathons or road, I like to use the Clifton or the Carbon. But on the trails I use the Speedgoat or the Mafate, and sometimes the Torrent too. I love trying out all their shoes. The HOKA shorts have deep pockets for storage, too, and their sport bras are amazing and supportive. I truly am a fan of all their stuff.

Shop all the gear Jared and Mayra use to elevate their runs and maximize their distance at eastbay.com

Check out Jared on Instagram @jared_hazen

Check out Mayra on Instagram @born2run87