This past weekend, Hayden Hawks made the comeback of a lifetime by winning the Black Canyon 100k and setting a new course record by two and half minutes, running 7:30:18. This win secured his ticket to Western States, and was a culmination of the months of diligent, patient training he implemented after his knee surgery back in July of 2023.

COROS chatted with Hayden to get an inside look at his rehab and build back to training, leading to his record-setting win. In addition, we discussed why he started using COROS HRV to monitor recovery. Read below to get a deep dive into Hayden's training block and Black Canyon 100k course record data.

How Hayden Hawks Built Fitness After Knee Surgery

After surgery in July, Hayden focused on physical therapy and rehab with the goal of getting movement in the knee again and building strength in the surrounding muscles.

I wasn't really sure what I was going to be able to do post-surgery.

Around October, Hayden started considering the possibility of being able to race Black Canyon, but he was still dealing with some pain in his knee. "I would go out for a run, then I'd come back and it would flare up pretty badly. I was like, 'Oh man, I just don't know if the knee is ready.'"

It wasn't until mid-December when Hayden started feeling more confident and the pain in his knee subsided. He had spent months cross-training and doing rehab, building a large base that allowed him to feel aerobically strong and physically prepared to start running at his full potential. By the end of December, he began to log triple-digit mileage weeks. During the month of December, Hayden caught COVID and had to dial back his mileage by 30%. Following the illness, Hayden was quickly able to regain momentum with a peak mileage week in January of 120 miles.

MonthsTraining ProtocolWeekly Running Mileage
JulyCompletely off, no running. Light walking.0
AugustLong hikes, biking.0
SeptemberStarted to incorporate running with 30s run intervals, 2min walking, slowly building intervals.10-30
OctoberLonger, continuous runs. Still incorporate cross-training.30-40
NovemberContinue building mileage, biking as cross-training.50-80
DecemberContinue building mileage, biking as cross-training.80-100
JanuaryLog a few 100+ mile weeks, head to Arizona to run some of the course.80-120
FebruaryTaper until race day.50-60

During his build, Hayden worked closely with his doctors and sports physio, and received regular massages to help loosen the scar tissue in his knee. About 8-10 weeks out from Black Canyon, he started hitting peak mileage, but still continued to incorporate biking and strength training to keep things balanced, leading to a peak Base Fitness of 271 in December.

My training is very balanced now. It's 10 hours of running, 5 to 6 hours of cycling, and then another 5 hours of strength training.

After surgery in July, Hayden took a full month off. He patiently built fitness through cross-training and gradual return to running, increasing his COROS Base Fitness and tapering slightly to peak for Black Canyon.

Coming back from knee surgery, Hayden emphasized the importance of getting back to basics in his training, relying on feel to help gauge the strength in his knee, while keeping track of COROS metrics in the background as reassurance. Hayden says his new, balanced approach will help him mentally prepare for Western States.

Using HRV For The First Time To Monitor Recovery

When COROS released overnight HRV tracking in the app, Hayden was interested. He had never used HRV in his training before, but it came at the perfect time as he was focused on recovery and taking careful steps to get back to full running health.

"It has proven to be really useful. The other day I did a double threshold and I was pretty nervous going into it, because I hadn't done one of those in a while," Hayden said in regards to one of his last workouts leading into Black Canyon.

"I woke up that morning and I measured my HRV, and [the COROS app] said it was optimal and I was in the perfect range. It ended up being a real strong day, like two of the best workouts I've had this entire training block."

Hayden's Black Canyon 100k Course Record Data

The morning of the Black Canyon 100k, the conditions weren't ideal. The race was delayed by two hours due to the weather, and the course itself had to be modified in a few areas, adding nearly an extra mile to the total distance. It was cold, and parts of the course were covered in frost and snow. However, that didn't affect Hayden's strategy leading up to the race as he set out on the course with big objectives in mind.

Overall, Hayden averaged 7:21/mile for the Black Canyon 100k, which translated to a 7:08/mi COROS Effort Pace. If Hayden were running on flat roads, he says he could easily hold a 6:00/mi pace or faster. However, due to the extremely technical terrain, switchbacks, and muddy footing as a result of the weather, his Effort Pace was on par with how hard his body was working. Additionally, there were 3 instances along the course where he had to walk across a river.

Note: Areas where Effort Pace dips are a result of stopping to cross bodies of water, a bathroom break, and one quick aid stop.

Start To Bumble Bee (0-18mi)

Mile 0-18 data of Hayden Hawks at Black Canyon 100k.

Hayden did not lose any time in the first downhill section of the race by averaging 6'34"/mi for 2 hours to the 3rd aid station at Bumble Bee. Despite the harsh conditions on the course, Hayden was locked in right off the start.

Bumble Bee To Black Canyon (18-37mi)

Mile 18-37 data of Hayden Hawks at Black Canyon 100k.

The following 20 miles have a net downhill feel while eventually arriving at Black Canyon which sits just above 2000 ft. Hayden settled into a good effort at 7'27"/mi, which corresponds very closely to his overall average pace for the race.

Black Canyon To Table Mesa (37-51mi)

Mile 37-51 data of Hayden Hawks at Black Canyon 100k.

The next 14 miles start with a massive climb back up to 2500 ft before heading down towards the lowest point of the course at 1750 ft right before Table Mesa Aid Station at mile 51. Hayden averaged 8'05"/mi for this section as the strong demand of the course begins to set in.

Table Mesa To Finish (51-62mi)

Mile 51-62 data of Hayden Hawks at Black Canyon 100k.

The final 11 miles begin with the last big climb of the course back up to near 2500 ft before a nice and fast downhill to the finish line. Hayden has been able to dig deep and increase the pace for those last few miles to win Black Canyon 100k and break the course record by a mere 2.5 minutes.

Hayden at the finish line of 2024 Black Canyon 100k.

Hayden Hawks Prepares for Western States

This summer, Hayden will line up for his 4th appearance at Western States. After a frustrating DNF in 2023 due to his knee injury, he's ready to toe the line in June with more confidence and consistent training under his belt.

We look forward to following Hayden's journey back to California where he'll compete with the best trail runners in the world and fight for a title at the world's oldest 100-miler.