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scotty at trail world champsWe recently had the opportunity to chat with Scotty Hawker, one of New Zealand’s top endurance athletes.

Scotty has been competing on the Ultra Trail World Tour for a number of years now and has recently represented New Zealand alongside Fiona Hayvice at the World Trail Championships in Portugal.

Scotty had a chat with Andy Good answering some questions from the team at NZTrailRun, we hope there is some info in here that can help you find inspiration and step up to your next challenge whatever it may be…

Andy:

First things first. Thanks for taking the time to chat with us about your running. A lot of people in NZ would love the opportunity to pick your brains for their own benefit and hopefully they can take away something new from reading this conversation. We’ll start by talking about your racing this year…

You’ve not long since finished a big race having recently represented NZ at the world trail running championships. I hope the recovery is going well, is there anything you focus on in particular during the weeks after a big event?

Scotty:

The couple of weeks after any long race are definitely my chance to kick back and relax a little, but depending what time of year it is and where I’m at in my race season that’s not always possible. For example after UTA100 in May I knew I had Lavaredo Ultra Trail coming up 6 weeks later, so looking after the body, ironing out any niggles and maintaining a good balanced diet was important. Whereas after the IAU Trail World Championships at the end of October I knew I was going into my “off season” so I indulged in a few more pizzas, burgers and beers. Even though my diet is more relaxed during this time, I still like to look after my body with regular massage, getting on the foam roller and regular dynamic stretching.

Andy:

How did this event compare to racing in a UTWT event? Did the added bonus of representing your country change the experience for you in terms of how you approached the race?

Scotty:

There’s no comparison really in terms of the competition. When you essentially have the best trail runners from different countries all over the world competing, it’s hard to match. This race on paper was the most competitive trail ultra in 2016. Wearing the Silver Fern and representing NZ was the most memorable moment in my running career. It was something I’d dreamt about since I was a young chap. If I hadn’t been representing NZ I probably would have pulled the pin at 55km as things had been pretty ugly for about 25km and I’d been passed by 42 runners while I was battling some stomach problems. I’m glad I stuck it out as I passed 16 runners after that point and finished pretty strong – thank you NZ!

scotty at trail world champs
Scotty competing for NZ in the World Trail Running Championships

Andy:

It’s been a great year for you on paper having run UTA and Lavaredo before world champs. How many big events do you usually target in a calendar year?

Scotty:

After Lavaredo in 2015 I took about 8 months off running while my wife and I tried for a baby. I knew that when I started back up in 2016 it was going to take time for my body to get used to the heavy load of training again. When I got back into racing in April I knew I wasn’t where I needed to be. Persistent calf problems really hampered training so I went into UTA and Lavaredo underdone and with calf problems. Generally speaking though, I like to have two focus races per year (Lavaredo and World Champs this year) but I’ll incorporate other races in the build up to my focus races.

Andy:

I’m sure this will be a hard one to answer but did you have a favourite event this year, if so what made it stand out from the rest?

Scotty:

Definitely World Champs! Far from the result I know I’m capable of, but representing my country and carrying my daughter Sienna across the finish line are memories that I’ll never forget.

Andy:

Looking ahead to 2017 have you got an idea of the key races you’ll be targeting yet?

Scotty:

I’ll definitely be starting the year with the Tarawera Ultra in February, but I’m still putting the final touches on the rest of my race calendar.scotty at Tarawera

Andy:

If it’s not been answered above are you thinking of taking on a 100 miler next year?

Scotty:

My main focus for 2017 is UTMB. All of my training and racing throughout the year will be with that goal in mind.

Andy:

With so many huge events to choose from have you got any bucket list races for the distant future?

Scotty:

I don’t really have any bucket list races as such, but a few that I’d really like to race are: Trofeo Kima, Hardrock, Diagonale des Fous, Matterhorn Ultraks and Everest Trail Race.

Andy:

On the UTWT you must see similar people at each event. Have you got any good friends you like to toe the line against that bring out the best in you?

Scotty:

That’s one of the amazing things about the UTWT, you make so many amazing friends from all over the world. My good mate Pau Capell from Catalonia is someone I love racing against. We’re awesome mates off the trails but when we’re racing it’s game on! Another good mate Gediminas Grinius from Lithuania is a guy who’s been raising the bar for the last couple of years. Anytime I’ve been running near him I know things are going pretty well. I haven’t beaten him yet, but maybe in 2017?

Andy:

We all have rough days at the office; can you give us any advice on digging through those low patches while out there racing?

Scotty:

Smile! Seriously, there have been many times I’ve had my back up against the wall and contemplated pulling the pin. I’ve found a smile to be the trigger that sets off a change of emotion in me that’s led to turning things around. I also like to think back to training sessions that felt like they nearly broke me, but I battled through fatigue/pain/discomfort and still got the job done. If you’ve trained correctly you’ll have those moments to draw motivation from. The other thing that I do a lot is tell myself to harden up, and that I am choosing to be there. This one might not work for everyone but it often makes me suck it up and get the job done.

Andy:

A good question here from one of our members of the team. What do you do mentally to prepare for a big race?

Scotty:

I don’t start planning the details of nutrition/gear etc until the Wednesday of race week. If I start thinking about things too far out from the race I waste many a good nights sleep. I also try and cut back the amount of work I need to do or take time off completely during race week to help me relax. I work as a running coach writing online training programs for my clients which means a lot of time sitting in front of my laptop. If I can minimise this time during race week I find it to be very beneficial to how my body feels going into a race. During race week I focus on some of the mental training I’ve been working on during training sessions. I think about what I’m going to do when I hit low patches and how I’m going to get out of them, and I remind myself of what words I’m going to use or what I can think about to help keep me focused during the race.

Andy:

On a more personal note, a huge congrats on the birth of your daughter earlier in the year! This is such exciting news and it seems like your family is doing really well thus far.
Has being a dad changed the way you’ve approached your racing?scotty with sienna

Scotty:

Since Sienna was born in July our world has definitely had a shining light. Having her around now definitely makes me want to make training sessions really count. I figure that if I’m spending time away from her I owe it to her and myself to make the session a good one. There’s no point being away from home and then deciding to take the soft option in training or missing that final hill rep. Also thinking about her and my wife Liz waiting for me at the checkpoints at the World Champs was a massive boost in motivation.

Andy:

You guys are based in an amazing part of Australia. Can you tell us what motivated the change in scenery, what the running is like over there compared to NZ?

Scotty:

The Blue Mountains are unreal. We moved here from Perth, WA about 18 months ago. We’d been living in Perth for four years, but training was much harder with the heat and the flat trails. After spending a bit of time in Katoomba training and running in the UTA100 we decided it would be a great place to set up camp for a little while. The trails over here are incredible, lots of awesome single track and stairs. As amazing as they are though, they are definitely no comparison to the NZ Mountains! There are probably trails down in the Victorian Alps that are similar to NZ, but I’m yet to explore there.

Andy:

Good training buddies can be hard to find, have you got a good crew over there that you get out with for training?

Scotty:

There are a few guys over here that I train with regularly. It’s been a massive change from Perth as I used to do nearly all of my running solo. Over here I mainly train with Locky Kennedy (winner of Hounslow Classic Ultra, 3rd at Mt Difficulty) and Jono O’Loughlin (Aussie rep at Trail World Champs, UTA 8 time legend and he also beat me at Mt Solitary Ultra the bugger!)

Andy:

I’m sure your coaching keeps you on your toes when you aren’t training yourself. It must be rewarding seeing people achieving their goals. Any success stories you’d like to share with us?

Scotty:

It’s such an incredible job, if I can really call it that. I really love what I do. It’s such a buzz seeing clients achieving their goals and knowing that I’ve been part of that. It’s really hard to single out any athletes, as there have been so many incredible performances from massive p.b’s in races to people achieving things they never thought were possible. I have such a wide range of clients ranging from people trying to win the race to people just wanting to make the cut offs, so it’s exciting writing specialised programs for such different athletes.

If anyone is interested in personalised coaching plans how can they get in touch?

They can contact me via email – scotty@mile27.com.au

Andy:

Have you got anything else in the pipeline? I heard whispers of a training camp earlier in the year?

Scotty:

We just had our first training camp in NZ last weekend. It was a really successful weekend and we’re looking forward to holding our next training camp in NZ on the 16th-20th of February 2017.

Andy:

This is a big one…What advice can you give to people who are thinking of tackling their first Ultra?

Scotty:

Start by working on your base fitness, and allow yourself enough time to gradually build up to the race so that you’re not feeling like you need to cram in last minute training. It’s also really important to not only practice your race day nutrition during training, but to make sure that you’re practicing it at the intensities that you’ll be racing at. This was a big lesson I learnt at the World Champs this year.

Andy:

Have you got any advice for those sub elites who are doing big miles that are thinking about taking the next step with their racing? What made you take the plunge into the Elite field?

Scotty:

Getting a coach was a definite change in direction for me. It’s not just a case of training harder or getting in more mileage – there are so many more elements to training and racing for all athletes, elites included. Since starting with a coach I’ve cut back my mileage a lot in training and I definitely focus on quality over quantity these days. We also work a lot on nutrition and the mental aspects of training and racing.

Andy:

On a lighter note have you got any weird superstitious rituals like putting on lucky underwear before a big race?

Scotty:

The only thing I really do is try to have a steak on the Thursday of race week when possible.

Andy:

Here at NZtrailrun we are mostly all weekend warriors who utilise the weekends for that long mission in the hills somewhere. Any tips or advice for people out there doing long days in amongst a busy work schedule?

Scotty:

Think about your intensity on those missions or long runs and make sure you’re not pushing too hard if the purpose is purely a ‘long run’. The weekends are definitely an exciting opportunity to get out in the mountains but it’s so easy to overcook things on the long run and then have your mid-week sessions effected because of it.

Andy:

How about the distance of long runs? If someone is doing a 50k vs a 100k what would you suggest is the longest run that they’d do in their build up?

Scotty:

It’s really dependent on the athlete and the time they are hoping to achieve in those certain races. The majority of my coaching is based around time on feet rather than distance covered. The reason for this being that terrain and profile obviously play a massive part in how long any given run will take. In general, long runs for athletes tackling those distances will range from about 3-6hrs.

Andy:

Business and racing aside have you got a favourite place to run that you have a special connection with?

Scotty:

Anything in the Queenstown/Wanaka/Arrowtown area. I get goosebumps even thinking about it. The Routeburn is a definite favourite!

scotty running in South Island New ZealandAndy:

What are you up to when you’re not crushing the local trails?

Scotty:

Being a Papa now is absolutely awesome. We love to take Sienna out for hikes in the mountains and spend time together in the outdoors. I also play a bit of frisbee golf when I’m injured or not racing.

Andy:

Has the family tried to twist your arm into coming back to NZ at all? We’d love to have you back by the way 😉

Scotty:

Haha, definitely! But they know where things are at with me and my training/work/racing at the moment so are understanding of that. We definitely hope to be back on home soil one day though.

Andy:

Only fitting to finish up with this one, what’s next? Work/missions/holidays whatever…

Scotty:

We are currently in the process of packing up and putting all of our belongings into storage. As of December 14 we head to Perth for 6 weeks over Xmas and New Years. We then head back home to NZ at the end of January until mid-March before heading over to Europe for 6 months. We’ll start in Madeira Island where I’ll train for and race the MIUT.

Andy:

Shameless sponsor plug who has helped you out along the way that you’d like to thank?

Scotty:

Hoka One One Australia, Compressport, Tailwind Nutrition, Vfuel, Outdoor Research and Ryders Eyewear.

Andy:

Where can people find you on social media?

fb-art

Facebook – Scotty Hawker

 

 

InstagramInstagram – scotty_hawker

 

 

I hope you guys have enjoyed reading this info as much as I have. There’s some great points in there to take on board for varying ability levels.

As you may have picked up from my earlier entries i’m a fairly organised guy so I enjoyed hearing about how Scotty plans out his year and the amount of events he genuinely targets.

This has really highlighted to me the fact that this year I think I have actually raced quite a lot and that next year I will adjust the schedule to suit more training and less racing to hopefully reflect better results.

We want to thank Scotty for taking the time to answer these questions and if you guys are interested in any personal coaching from one on NZ’s best endurance athletes make sure you get in touch with him.

Good luck to all of you who are running in both the Goat and the Kepler challenge in the next couple of weeks, I hope you enjoy the experience and the post race recovery heading into the silly season.

I’m sure you all cant wait to get out and make the most of the long summer days, if you get inspired to write about any of your summer adventures please get in touch with us at nztrailrun@gmail.com.

Andy.