September 30, 2023
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In a world the place health monitoring units and high-tech coaching plans dominate the operating scene, ultrarunner Courtney Dauwalter has discovered success by holding issues easy.

Dauwalter’s love for operating began at a younger age, with the Presidential Health Take a look at in elementary college. “I began operating in elementary college once we needed to run the mile for health club class,” she mentioned. “I keep in mind loving it. I actually favored the way it felt to run, and I actually favored how I may push myself as arduous as I needed.”

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In 1997, Dauwalter’s ardour for operating advanced when she joined the cross-country workforce at her Minnesota highschool. “Once I joined the cross-country workforce, a complete social aspect received added to operating that made me fall in love with it much more,” she mentioned.

However as many runners know, it’s straightforward to lose sight of the enjoyment of operating amid stress to realize private information and observe each metric possible. Not like many within the endurance house, Dauwalter doesn’t use Strava, although she does nonetheless assume it’s a fantastic software for others.

Following Dauwalter’s course file victory at Western States this yr, as the highest girls’s ultrarunner on the earth she has discovered success by sticking to her roots and embracing a easy method to coaching. She has not labored with a operating coach since she her highschool cross-country days. Her technique features a versatile coaching plan that permits for relaxation days, spontaneous runs, and a mindset that focuses on the enjoyment of the motion.

“I believe it’s vital to remain in contact with why you’re keen on operating,” Dauwalter mentioned.

Dauwalter’s evergreen method is atypical. However ought to it’s? Her course of has paid off, with spectacular performances in ultra-marathons. However Dauwalter’s success is not only measured in podiums and race instances. For her, operating is a approach to join with nature and others who share her love for the game.

As we proceed to navigate the complexities of recent health tradition, maybe we will study one thing from Dauwalter’s method. By embracing the childlike pleasure of operating and simplifying our method to coaching, we could discover that the motion turns into extra significant and pleasant.

Protecting Issues Free (After Espresso)

Not like a lot of her friends, Dauwalter shuns the rigidity of a coaching routine and doesn’t obsess over the particulars.

“Each morning after espresso, I’ll resolve what my run is for the day primarily based on how my physique and mind are feeling,” she mentioned. “Generally that’s a future on a few of my favourite trails, or summiting a neighborhood peak, or it’d really feel like a fantastic day for hill repeats or intervals, and a few days I gained’t actually know what I’m doing till I depart the home and let my ft select the route.”

Her day by day runs sometimes final between two and 4 hours, and, whereas she could know when a race is arising, she decides what her coaching will seem like primarily based on how she feels bodily and mentally.


“I believe it’s vital to remain in contact with why you’re keen on operating,” Dauwalter mentioned.


“There are such a lot of methods to coach, get pleasure from, and go after operating targets. Having a coaching plan, utilizing units and analyzing information, or not doing any of these issues, are all nice choices,” she defined. “I believe it is dependent upon the individual and the way they discover pleasure. However I additionally assume there isn’t any draw back to sometimes leaving the watch at dwelling and heading out the door for a run the place you simply take heed to your physique and never fear about metrics.”

Her basic method includes listening to her physique and never following a predetermined plan, permitting her to give attention to the expertise relatively than the outcomes. As an example, if she’s coaching for a race with loads of climbing, she’ll incorporate extra mountain runs into her routine.

Over time, Dauwalter has centered on being extra adaptive to her physique. She stays in tune along with her feelings and doesn’t take issues too significantly. She approaches her coaching with a way of playfulness, which retains her motivated and engaged.

Dauwalter’s cheerfully unconcerned method to coaching is the precise reverse of what you may count on from a world-class athlete. Reasonably than obsessing over sleep metrics and biomarkers, she retains her routine versatile and listens to her physique. She doesn’t overthink her eating regimen, as an alternative opting to eat what appears good, sounds good, or is most handy. A few of her favorites embody nachos, pancakes, gummy bears, Snickers, and root beer.

“I nearly all the time simply go operating with out a structured plan. I’m often sporting a watch that may inform me information, however I’m not taking a look at this throughout my run,” mentioned Dauwalter. “I discover probably the most pleasure once I depart my home and let my ft be the tour guides.”

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With out a predetermined plan, she’s discovered to tune into her physique and react accordingly. Her method permits her to pay shut consideration to what her physique tells her and keep away from disregarding signs or indicators that she ought to change course.

The fundamentals of having fun with the processes are important for Dauwalter. She does higher when she’s not holding too tightly to any piece of operating. The flexibleness of her coaching retains issues recent and enjoyable.

(Photograph: Martina Valmassoi)

Take a Break from the Devices

“Generally our devices can get in the best way of our enjoyment of the run,” mentioned Dauwalter. “The devices are cool, however so is the simplicity of operating.”

Her major method helps in races when issues inevitably get difficult. She speaks about turning to her psychological “submitting cupboard” and “telling herself jokes” to beat the obstacles of the thoughts and physique she’s skilled in.

Furthermore, her decluttered coaching model extends to the simplicity of utilizing respiratory and mindfulness workout routines to give attention to the calm of the paths. Protecting it easy helps push by means of demanding instances. Specializing in her respiratory or wanting on the path the place she’s headed can deliver peace in attempting moments.

Dauwalter’s intuitive operating model is probably not for everybody, however the method can present a refreshing change of tempo. Dauwalter’s lower-intensity mindset affords a strong reminder that operating will be so simple as placing on our sneakers and heading out the door.

“It actually will be simply you out in nature with the sound of your respiratory and footsteps, rolling with the terrain at no matter tempo feels good that day,” she mentioned. “I attempt to run like this as a lot as potential.”


Ben Pryor (Choctaw) is a contributing author for a number of nationwide and regional publications, together with Native Information On-line and Indian Nation At present. He has graduate levels in Political Science (American Politics) and Philosophy (Philosophy of Language). His writing pursuits embody operating, politics, and the surroundings.

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