Training For Ultra's Training Diaries - Issue #14


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Guest: Jay Hagan

Episode Title: Jay Hagan - the Night Stalker 160th US Special Ops Pilot and Purple Heart Recipient Takes On Leadman

Bio: Jay Hagan is an ultrarunner, father, husband, former WNBA coach, and cyclist based in Nevada. Jay’s day job is as a US Special Operations Helicopter Pilot for the historic 160th SOAR Night Stalkers and he has been deployed numerous times all over the world. Jay is also a purple heart recipient. Jay actually found ultrarunning through competitive cycling. After only 64 days of preparation, he ran his first ever ultra, this was also his first time ever running a race over 5k. This first ultra was a 100-mile race called the Pinhoti 100, it took Jay 29 hours and 15 minutes, he conquered the race and fell in love with ultrarunning! Some of his most recent races include the Leadville Trail 100 and the Silver Rush 50 and in 2019, Jay ran the Tahoe 200 Endurance Run. Jay uses his running to not only help him be a better person, but also to set a great example for his favorite crew member and running partner: his eleven-year-old son! Running, especially longer distances, has taught Jay the power of discipline, consistency, and the importance of taking care of your mind and body; all things he hopes to instill in his son. Jay is heavily involved in the ultrarunning community and when he is not racing he is often crewing. This past July, Jay was at Badwater crewing for racer Sean Nakamura. Jay’s most recent race was the Leadville 100, a race he also ran back in 2019. Jay believes actions speak louder than words and is constantly looking for ways to inspire and encourage others through the only thing he can truly control and take responsibility for: his own actions. T4U would like to thank Jay for his service. 

Quotes from podcast episode:

“You have to focus on your job and not focus on the things you cannot control because, if you become focused on the things you cannot control, then you’re not focused on your job.” - 17:16 Jay Hagan

“You always get surprised on who the high performers are because of that stress element and that enduring - can you suffer for long periods of time or can you, in my case, do your job under immense pressure and consistently do it time and time again? We can all do it at hour one but can you do it at hour 29?” - 20:50 Jay Hagan

“Coming to ultra I did feel like my mind, initially, was way in front of my body. My mind could suffer, I had the resiliency to deal with pain, but my body was physically not ready for the pounding in the legs for that duration and the opposite is actually true today. What ultra has given me now, really solidifying my ability to cover 100s of miles in a very short amount of time, and the huge ultra-endurance base I have now is, now when I am on mission, or when I am in a training environment; the things I have learned about myself in ultra, about nutrition and recovery, in covering those big distances I bring back to the community. - 24:20 Jay Hagan

“You bring those experiences back of lessons learned, of how to eat and do the nutrition piece a little better, so now I am on mission and I know without a doubt if I crash a helicopter on target my fitness will not be in question. I will be able to be one of the guys who can be counted on to go the distance. If it’s three mountain ranges, we’re doing three mountain ranges, if it’s walk across the continent, we’re walking across the continent…Taking that same no fail attitude and applying all the fitness and mental attributes that ultra provides and I get to take that to mission.” 25:31 Jay Hagan

“I actually bring back more from the ultra community back into the environment I work in, in the hydration and nutrition realm of like, “We’re doing this wrong; we need to consider this,” because the base teachings within special operations… while the work environment is extreme, their base teaching is still around, very much, big sports…the traditional sports that aren’t the multiday efforts… There’s a lot I think the community can learn from ultra and the ultra community and the inverse.” - 28:48 Jay Hagan

“I am captivated by just the enormity of it - watching the human spirit have to fight for something that they really want, on two feet, they’re cold, they’re wet they’re dirty, they’re hungry, they’re just battling to get there and sitting there thinking - I always think to myself why not me and I sign up.” - 38:29 Jay Hagan

“I have found that my brain resets the distance and just accepts the challenge and then I just try to live and think small. It’s kind of cliché for ultra, but seriously one aid station at a time and I just think, “See you at the next one, see you at the next one,” and I really try not think about the big picture.” - 41:14 Jay Hagan

“Everybody else might think this is impossible, but I truly believe, “Why not me, if I am willing to do the work to get there?”” - 47:56 Jay Hagan

“Why not me? If I am willing to do the work and jump through all the hoops and to do a lot more work and to take a lot of risks and to learn a whole new skill set, why not me?... I don’t know where my limits are. I’m not going to really worry about that, I’m just going to do a bunch of work to be as prepared as I can be and enjoy the journey.” - 48:28 Jay Hagan

“In my heart of hearts, I just wanted him to pull the plug for me because I knew I was not going to quit.” - 54:43 Jay Hagan

“The pain I feel over the 100 miles is worth the lifetimes of memories that I am creating with my family and my close friends by doing the hard things well.” - 1:53:24 Jay Hagan 

“The people who support you through these things are, at times the champions of it and really invest the most into it to make sure it is a successful run.” - 1:53:55 Jay Hagan

“Where there is no struggle, there is absolutely no progress.” - 1:04:34 Jay Hagan

“Having the opportunity to fail is still having the opportunity.” - 2:04:53 Jay Hagan

“When it is all good, all the time and you’re always winning, what reflection do you really make?” - 2:08:48 Jay Hagan

Episode Timeline:

5:50 Jay’s athletic origins

7:10 Discovering ultrarunning

9:04 Training for your first ultra in 64 days

10:00 Special Forces

13:20 The psyche of a Special Forces soldier

15:26 Training to work and focus under pressure

19:31 Universal trait within Special Forces soldiers?

23:00 Does ultrarunning make you better at your job and vice versa?

28:00 Disconnect of optimized nutrition hydration in special ops vs endurance sports especially for multiday experiences

31:20 Tactical and technical level and experience of Night Stalker pilots

35:00 Aircraft navigation exercises

36:50 Running the 2019 Tahoe 200

43:15 Night Stalkers don’t quit and believing in oneself

50:15 Low points during the 2019 Tahoe 200

58:45 Special forces mindset during the 2019 Tahoe 200 snowstorm

1:03:30 Saving fellow runner from hypothermia

1:10:00 Take a tactical pause

1:16:00 2019 Tahoe 200 finish line

1:21:00 Leadman

1:28:00 Challenges of technical mountain biking

1:32:40 Leadville 100

1:35:25 Hope Pass: Death or glory?

1:45:00 Powerline and the power of effective hydration and nutrition

1:50:00 Sugarloaf descent and the value of communicating with your pacer

1:52:37 Takeaways from Leadville 100 finish line and completing Leadman

1:55:40 Comparing ultramarathon finish lines to completing special forces missions

2:01:23 Defining pain: positive versus negative pain

2:04:30 Utilizing the opportunity to fail

2:11:30 Applying the mindset behind Leadman success to special forces work

Social Media:

Instagram: Jay Hagan (@dad_fast) • Instagram photos and videos

Sponsors: Addaday, Coros Global, Rabbit, Tailwind Nutrition, and XOSKIN


Big thank you to the podcast supporters!

John Wayne Cancer Foundation - Run the GRIT Series

Tanri Outdoors - All Natural Sun Protection for Runners (use “ULTRA10” for 10% off)

XoSkin (use “T4U20” for 15% off)

Thank you Patreon supporters!