At SaltStick, we are proud to sponsor top athletes in the fields of triathlon, running, tennis and jiu jitsu. We are inspired by our athletes and admire the hard work and time they dedicate to achieving success.
Because we hope our athletes’ performances will serve as motivation as you pursue your own fitness and life journey, we enjoy sharing their stories. This week’s blog post features Jax Mariash, the first woman in the world to complete the 4 Deserts Race Series Grand Slam Plus.
*Feature photo credit: Matt Brown at Grand To Grand Ultra
Jax’s running journey
A lifelong runner, Jax got her start at just five years old, when she entered and won her age group in a local 5K. From then on, she was hooked. Soon, she began to routinely join family members on weekend runs as her love for the sport grew.
“I always dreamed that someday I was going do something so big that it would inspire the masses to get outside and explore,” she says, reflecting on her childhood. “I figured that if I inspired individuals to move their bodies and exercise that in some fashion I was healing the world.”
In her 20s, Jax raced as an elite triathlete before stumbling upon ultrarunning, which has since become her new passion. In 2016, she became the first woman to complete (and win) the 4 Deserts Race Series Grand Slam Plus, a group of five jaw-droppingly tough ultrarunning races on four different continents: Asia, Africa, South America and Antarctica.
Additional achievements include a 365-day running streak to create awareness for cancer research, and a successful career as an entrepreneur and business owner of STOKED ROASTERS, which provides craft coffee to outdoor enthusiasts worldwide (Utah and Oregon readers should stop by in person for a visit!).
“I love running more than anything,” says Jax. “Feeling the wind on my face and exploring is one of my favorite things to do, and it feels so simple and free. It’s like a meditation on the roads and trails.”
Consistency is key to Jax’s running success. While running is the focus, a typical week features a diverse mixture of quality work, endurance, strength and mental training. Her schedule usually looks as follows:
- Monday: off / strength / drills / core
- Tuesday: morning speed session / afternoon easy run / core
- Wednesday: medium-long run of 12-16 miles / strength / core
- Thursday: morning speed session / afternoon easy run / core
- Friday: easy run / strength / drills / core
- Saturday: long run of 18-32 miles / core
- Sunday: long run of 8-18 miles / core
Jax also meditates every day.
While not regimented in her approach to nutrition, Jax finds herself drawn to simple foods with minimal ingredients, as well as made-from-scratch meals like eggs and avocado, nuts or a handful of vegetables. During particularly high-volume periods, she is more flexible with what she eats because consuming adequate calories becomes not only difficult but crucial for recovery.
“I also love beer and tend to get some of my carbs that way!” she laughs.
How SaltStick helps Jax perform: “I lean on SaltStick daily to obtain my electrolyte balance during training,” says Jax, who takes one SaltStick Capsule every hour during hot weather and one every few hours in cooler temperatures. “In my races I religiously take a SaltStick Capsule hourly. It is critical to survival in the Deserts.”
Even an athlete as passionate as Jax faces inevitable dips in motivation, and over the years, she has learned the ups and downs are simply part of life. To push herself during the hard times, she schedules runs with friends to create accountability to show up.
“I also sometimes buy a new piece of apparel so I feel sassy and want to get out the door,” she says. “Once you step out you are so glad you went.”
Advice to new athletes
Considering your first ultra? You’re in for a great experience, says Jax, who recommends building up a base of endurance before tackling speed.
“Ultras are a very humble and fun side of the sport of running,” she says. “It’s a sport where nutrition is key, and you have to be okay walking up hills.”
Ultimately, time and consistency will lead to success. To stay motivated, and because ultra training features many long, slow miles, Jax recommends joining a running group or relying on running as a way to form new friendships while chatting on the trails.