Courtney Dauwalter has been stunning the ultratrail world over and over: not only does she keep winning every race she runs, but she’s been obliterating course records and beating almost all of the men. On Sunday, the Leadville-based athlete annihilated the Hardrock 100 course record, finishing an incredible fourth place only three weeks off setting a blistering new Western States 100 record. Here’s what you can learn (no matter your distance of choice) from the way Dauwalter trains and races.
— iRunFar (@iRunFar) July 15, 2023
Run with joy and gratitude
It sounds simple, right? Running and racing should make us happy, but training can all too easily get filed as a chore on an endless to-do list. Dauwalter exudes joy and gratitude when she races, no matter the day or situation. Dauwalter is known by competitors and fans alike for the big smile she shares with everyone on the course.
Flying through Mile 49.5, is your #WS100 leader, Courtney Dauwalter, in 7:51 elapsed. Folks, she’s 19 minutes under course record asking us how we are doing? She gives a big smile and runs on! pic.twitter.com/HxgHuHInni
— iRunFar (@iRunFar) June 24, 2023
She effusively thanks volunteers and takes time to ask how her crew is doing. She high-fives all the little kids. On the Some Work All Play podcast, coach and ultrarunner David Roche asked Dauwalter what she would like her legacy to be. The trail phenom answered with her trademark humility and graciousness: “In general? That I made people smile and laugh and have a good time.”
Most of us won’t win a course record at a world-renowned event, but we can embody Dauwalter’s attitude in our own training and races. Checking in with others, savoring the fun of moving our bodies, and that simple thing, smiling, will make everything feel a little bit easier and a lot more fun.
Adjust your training according to how you are feeling
Dauwalter has no coach, doesn’t follow a strict training plan, and goes by feel. She’s clearly perfected the art of self-awareness over time, but there’s a takeaway there for all of us. Even though it can be incredibly helpful for runners to follow a program or have guidance while they train, keeping a reserve of flexibility and using self-check-ins can help the regular runner optimize their performance.
“There are so many ways to train, enjoy, and go after running goals. Having a training plan, using devices and analyzing data, or not doing any of those things, are all great options,” Dauwalter recently explained to trailrunnermag. “I think it depends on the person and how they find joy. But I also think there is no downside to occasionally leaving the watch at home and heading out the door for a run where you just listen to your body and not worry about metrics.”
Keep things loose, and be willing to adjust your plans if you feel the need for a data-free jaunt or when you notice that your body is needing more rest.
Eat with exuberance
Dauwalter is known for her sweet tooth and habit of fueling long races with cheese quesadillas. She’s often heard asking for her post-race beer dela, and even her Instagram tagline her declares her a lover of long inseams and candy. Dauwalter told Roche that she refuses to restrict what goes into her body her: “If it sounds good, if it tastes good if it fulfills a craving, then it’s exactly the thing that I’m eating.” Eating makes her happy.
Eating has a complicated dynamic for some, and runners come from a wide array of nutritional needs and preferences. Whatever your relationship with food and fuel, bringing Dauwalter’s enthusiastic spirit into your kitchen or food choices can make food more fun.