Today’s interview is with Courtney Dauwalter, an ultra runner who was the first finisher in the 2017 Moab 240…. yes, the first, not the first woman, the first finisher. She finished in a mind blowing 58 hours, 10 hours faster than the second place finisher. She was a DNF on her first 100 mile race and has been learning about mental toughness ever since.
We discuss how important it is to stay in the moment, to relish the times when you are flying high and feeling good, and not letting yourself wallow in the tougher things that happen along the way. During your training you have to learn to find those little things that ground you, whether that’s remembering quotes people have said to you, or listening to music. Because the math tricks that you can do on a shorter race get really hard on ultras.
We discuss running #nowatchme. Courtney ran cross country skiied in high school, and her coaches worked with her to know how a pace feels. She doesn’t use a watch or try to hit particular paces, she listens to her body and trusts that what it is telling her is right that day. She has a plan for a run, but lets her feet decide whether to veer off on a trail or a road, and lets her body tell her at each turn which route to take. We talk about how it’s important to be ok with those down days when you’re just not feeling it and cut it short.
We cover the 100 mile race where she suffered vision issues and ran essentially blind forthe last 12 miles from what turned out to be a combination of nutrition shortages, contact lens use, and and corneal swelling from dehydration and debris.
We discuss why she chooses to run in baggy men’s running clothing vs technical fabrics. How she napped for 20 minutes during the earlier parts of the Moab 240 and then 1 minute around mile 200 (her pacer woke her up), and how she felt completely refreshed and rejuvenated. It was cold, and it would not have been wise to stay still for long.
Have you ever hallucinated running? Courtney has and we talk about what it is like to have that happen in a race. And now her friends always ask her what she saw out there this time.
Courtney Dauwalter is a Colorado based ultra runner. She grew up with two brothers, competing for everything, because, well they are boys. She holds the American woman’s 24 hour endurance run record at 155.39 miles, besting her own previous record. She is a full time science teacher
What you will learn about:
- How Courtney just fought her own battle during the 238 mile Moab 240 race and didn’t know how far she was ahead of any other runners. The thought of a cooler of beer got her through the last DAY of the race.
- Courtney discusses how she tries to reel in the person in front of her, whether male or female, because most of the competition is within herself and against herself. Ultramarathons are humbling because you can pass someone but eventually get passed back.
- How to listen to your body and run what is right on each day, running #nowatchme and finding your cruise control speed during your training. Trail running helps teach you that because you often have to power hike the uphill sections, but can fly down the downhill parts.
- How Courtney ran the last 12 miles blind during the Run Rabbit Run 100 mile race and kept going, despite frequently falling and bashing her head because she couldn’t see, other than a small spot right at her feet. She had been pushing the pace, nutrition intake was not going well, and it was nighttime so she at first put it off as headlamp issues.
- We discuss hallucinating on a trail race during the night later in a race.
- We talk about working through physical pain and how you can keep going until you get past it. Repeating mantras, getting to a landmark, listening to music, eating something… anything to take you out of the pain mentally for a short time until you feel better. Learn and watch from all the other amazing runners in the sport.
Listen to the Running for Real Podcast here:
I’m either completely committed to what I am doing, or have a few screws loose, who knows.
If you push through the dark moments when everything hurts, you will find another reserve of strength you didn’t know you had. Know that a high is going to come again.
Thank you to BodyHealth for sponsoring this episode of Running for Real.
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Thank you to Courtney, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on the show.