Inside The Adaptable Mind
Trail Runner|Fall 2021
How Courtney Dauwalter uses adaptability to stay cool, calm and collected when the going gets tough.
By Addie Bracy

One of the most dangerous traps to fall into, in running and in life, is thinking you’ve got it all figured out. When you mistake fitness and preparation for having control, your perceptions, thoughts and beliefs become rigid. You tend to acknowledge only the cues that support your expectations, ignoring anything that suggests otherwise.

Even when there are cues suggesting that the current trajectory may not be the most effective way to get to the destination, athletes will try to push on rather than reevaluate and reroute. When this scenario plays out, it can result in injuries, DNFs and massive blowups.

More training and more preparation don’t give you more control over circumstances on race day—they give you more tools to respond to those circumstances.

CASE IN POINT

Courtney Dauwalter, 36 , of Golden , Colorado, is considered one of the greatest ultrarunners the sport has ever seen. She has won almost every major ultra-distance race, including the great 100-milers Western States Endurance Run, Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc and the Run Rabbit Run. She has earned overall wins, besting her male competitors, in multiple races, most notably the Moab 240 Endurance Run and Big’s Backyard Ultra.

Regardless of the race circumstances or how things are going, Dauwalter is known for smiling, staying calm and keeping her cool. One of her biggest assets out on the course is her ability to smoothly and swiftly use her problem-solving ability to overcome any challenge she encounters,

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