You read that right – over 3 weeks of 50k’s. We recently interviewed the incredible efforts of Kirsten Beverley-Waters [She/Her/They/Them], a motivational speaker, Yoga Medicine teacher, fitness coach and author, who is taking on the challenge of breaking both the men’s and women’s world records for most consecutive days running 50 kilometers. A member of the LGBTQ+ community, Beverley-Waters, 37, is preparing to undertake the 1,100km (684 miles) over 22 days as a fundraising and awareness campaign for The Trevor Project, the world’s largest suicide prevention and crisis intervention organization for LGBTQ+ young people.
Run Oregon: That’s a lot of miles – what are doing every day to stay strong? What are you eating?
Kirsten Beverley-Waters: My training is really about accumulation of time on my feet. There has been steady volume building of running and hiking throughout the last few months to ensure that my body is able to endure the challenge. But running and hiking isn’t enough. So I also have strength work, yoga practices, mobility, spin sessions, breath work, and meditations that are part of my training.
Fueling for this event is probably one of the biggest areas athletes could overlook. Training my gut to process enough calories to sustain my efforts requires a similar “volume” approach that I use for my running. The changes depend on how long I am out on a run or what my next few days of training look like. Some regulars in my rotation are eggs, oatmeal, toast, and berries with honey for breakfast, First Endurance EFS Pro Hydration 30 min before a run, Glukos (that’s the brand) shots on the run, gluten free pretzels, pickle juice, mustard, gluten free bagels, electrolyte tablets, water, Skratch chews, squeezable baby food (pear mango and strawberry apple are my favorite), WOW butter sandwich, egg salad, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, rice, chicken, watermelon (I crave this so much on most runs)… So as you can see the fueling during my runs can be a variety of things.
I don’t count calories, instead I have kept a detailed log of how my body feels at different points: when I wake up, pre-workout, during the workout, post-workout, and in the evening. I try to monitor how my energy feels more than going down a rabbit hole of specific calories or macros. In my past as an athlete, these methods led to disordered eating and caused frequent injuries because of under-nourishing.
RO: What will your recovery plans be to help prepare for the next morning?
KBW: Recovery Plan has been something I have been training since day one. For example when I finish a 5 hour run I immediately jump on my Peloton bike and ride a minimum 10 minutes on a light resistance at a high cadence (anything above 90rpm). Then I spend 20 minutes minimum on myofascial release. I roll my feet, calves, hamstrings, and quads. Then I use a foam roller for my upper back. I do some mini-band work to open my feet back up as well as recover my glutes and hips. I do all of this while drinking a recovery drink (sometimes it’s electrolytes and water, other times it’s a Skratch Vegan protein shake). Then it’s an ice bath. Followed by a shower. I’ll eat a meal and then before bed I use my Air Relax Compression boots to flush my legs and complete a breath work practice followed by Yoga Nidra to help my nervous system. My biggest recovery tool— REST. Sleep is key for my success.
RO: Thinking of all those runners who don’t stretch enough (including me), can you share how running and yoga impact one another?
KBW: In my experience as an endurance coach, I find that my athletes struggle with stretching, yoga, and myofascial release because it is often packaged as a recovery tool and when time is crunched recovery is the first to go. It’s easy to understand that if you are training for an ultra race for example that it’s unlikely a runner will cut down time running to practice yoga. Especially because there are such varying opinions on what I’ll call “auxiliary training tools”. Do you need to run to become a better runner? Absolutely. But do you need yoga to be a runner? Depends on the coach or training program you are following.
My opinion comes from 15+ years coaching endurance athletes, teaching in Exercise Science, and being an endurance athlete myself. And my opinion is that there are invaluable tools that go beyond the physical that can be extracted from a yoga practice. While some may use yoga as a way to gain mobility and flexibility, others might use it as a way to improve breath control for added endurance and stamina. Personally, yoga is a sacred practice to help me down regulate my nervous system and sharpen my mind and body connection. Yoga goes beyond the physical asana practice and so I utilize each of the eight limbs of yoga to complement my endurance training.
If someone is curious about how yoga could impact their running I would say that it offers a space to metabolize the efforts of the run, connect with your inner dialogue, and prioritize your body’s ability to regulate itself during high stress training.
RO: How many pairs of shoes are in rotation?
KBW: Probably too many. I have a wide variety of brands and types of shoes that have worked throughout the training. At the beginning of my training I wore almost exclusively HOKA. But as time went on and the types of terrain varied, temperatures changed, and my feet changed, different shoes felt better on different days.
- My HOKA Speedgoats are my absolute favorite for trail. The perfect amount of cushion and grip, they let me log long miles in snow and ice or hotter, more humid days and my feet still feel great.
- I use the Topo Athlete Ultra Fly on longer road or crushed gravel runs. I like the toe spread and the mid foot locking from the laces. It’s a spacious ride that just feels good.
- Then I have the New Balance FuelCell that is like running on a cloud. On a couple longer runs when my feet just feel tired switching to these help me feel like I am getting a little extra bounce. Plus, they are so light it mentally helps me push those extra miles.
- And then I have the Brooks launch which has just enough width for some extra toe splay without being quite as wide as my Topo or HOKA, and because of its higher heel to toe drop from the rest of my shoes it actually helps on days when my legs are a little tired and I have to bomb down hills. Keeps me falling forward from my ankles and running smoothly.
- I also love my HOKA Rincon for a light shoe that feels like a recovery slipper on the last few miles if it’s wet out and I need a change of shoes.
But you didn’t ask for a complete shoe review of brands did you? Ha ha. Basically, I have at least 5 shoes I’m rotating through. Much like my nutrition is an intuitive choice based on how my body feels.
RO: What’s been a bigger challenge than you thought going into this adventure?
KBW: A bigger challenge going into this adventure is how much self-support I need to do for the event in order to meet all the requirements for the record. My gear pack right now is close to 30# to carry the camera, batteries, fuel, water, poles, socks, and other essentials I need on days when I don’t have anyone out on the runs with me. It’s stressful to think that if I don’t notice my SD card is filling up or battery is low that it cancels the record. But I am choosing to focus on giving it my best and not letting the camera take up too much real estate in my mind.Another challenge I did not anticipate has been my body’s response to Covid. Exactly 22 days out from my event I tested positive for Covid and it got pretty scary. As someone with asthma and a heart murmur I have never fought so hard for a single breath in my life. I could barely make it out of bed to get to the bathroom and I worried that all my training and all my hard work was over. I am still working through it but spend added time resting, hydrating, and prioritizing breathing work with my yoga practice to help get me to the start line.
RO: Did anything surprise you about this experience thus far?
KBW: I think what surprised me the most has been the groups of people who have shown up and want to support me. I thought there would be some of my closest friends who would be my biggest supporters but it turned out that complete strangers have been some of the biggest cheerleaders, donors, and allies. In fact, there is a Peloton group called the “You Get to Crew” that is an instructor’s group following (Jess Sims) and when I posted about my event the group started asking how they could donate and asked where I lived so they could try and drive up to Maine to support me in person. It fills my heart with such joy to see people coming together for this cause.
RO: How can a runner who averages 684 miles over a few months (or years) get involved in supporting The Trevor Project?
KBW: You can go to the Trevor Project any time and financially support their cause, you can go to my fundraiser link to support the cause, or you can also volunteer to become a counselor for them. You can share important messages about legislation impacting LGBTQ+ youth. You can also amplify LGBTQIA+ voices so that our messages are heard. We often get buried in articles or social media platforms because of bias algorithms. And if you want to run I have a t-shirt you can purchase (all profits go to the Trevor Project) and you can run, walk, hike, or even cycle a few miles in the shirt and use the hashtag #theonlypaceisforward and share your story. Tag me @kbeverleywaters in your own run journey and connect with those who are running with me.
RO: What is a message of kindness you would want to share with young people who are watching their grown ups fight and make decisions about their futures?
KBW: Remember that there are adults that are fighting FOR your future as well. And we will not give up on you. We see you. We love you. We support you. We will hold the line. And we won’t stop until your futures are safe.
About Kirsten Beverley Waters [She/Her/They/Them]:
Kirsten Beverley-Waters is a Yoga Medicine teacher, fitness coach, author, and motivational speaker. Kirsten is known for using innovative movement methods to bring a modern approach to yoga’s ancient wisdom. As the founder of Aiiro Wellness, their work is a practice of cultivating your inner warrior, changing self-talk that does not serve us, and finding strength in our struggle. Sharing her experiences with cancer, mental health, and grief, Kirsten shares the power of harnessing our inner guru. Kirsten holds a Bachelors of Science from Kent State University, as well as multiple certifications through the American College of Sports Medicine, Crossfit, and Precision Nutrition. Kirsten also holds training and certifications in Emergency Medical & Neurodiagnostic Technology. https://www.kbwaters.com/ #50ksforLGBTQYouth