Broken Back? No Problem!

One of the amazing things about the ultra running community is that every runner has their own story of why they run and how they began. Our next scholarship recipient we want to introduce has an incredible story of injury, recovery and success. We look so forward to seeing Chantal Warriner in Golden this September and dare you to read her story and not be inspired.

How did your running journey begin? How did you get into ultra running?

My father says I started running as a small child.  We lived in a small town in Northern Ontario, and one day, when I couldn’t be found around the house, he drove down the streets to look for me.  When he pulled up beside me, asking me what I was doing, I answered “running”.    

I can’t remember my life without running.  Even when running wasn’t the focus, such as when I played high school sports, I always ran to keep in shape.  Prior to having children, I competed in triathlon.  After my oldest was born, almost 6 years ago, I started competing in local trail races.  I got hooked and the race distance just kept growing.  I’m now training for the Golden Ultra and my first 100 miler.

10 years ago you were critically injured in a trampoline accident, which do you think is harder - recovering and rehabbing from a serious back injury or training for and running ultra marathons?

I can’t believe the accident was already 10 years ago!  I learnt so much about myself after the accident.  There are so many similarities between the ‘recovery’ and ultra marathons.  The biggest, in my opinion, is focusing on ‘relentless forward progress’.  No matter how slow, or how much pain I’m experiencing, it’s important to just keep pushing through.   

I believed in my ability and my inner strength.  Don’t get me wrong, I had many tears, many pains, and many days were the end goal seemed so far away, but with small, sure steps, I did it. I have that same mentality when I an ultra distance.  I treat every race or training session in the same matter.  I accept the fact that I will be running a long time, and know that at one moment or another, my legs will want me to stop.  But like my injury, I believe in myself and push through, accept the pain as a reality and know I could get through it.  I use a lot of positive self-talk! 

What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned from your injury/recovery experiences and how have those helped you with your running?

The biggest lesson that I’ve learned is that there will be pain.  Life is full of it.  There is good pain and bad pain.  My body knows the difference and I have learnt to listen well.  Oh and I can’t forget to mention my secret to my success: I’m consistent.  I don’t miss workouts!  No matter how busy life gets, I make time to train. I can get pretty creative!  This consistency helped me recover from my injury, and it’s helped me win races.

I also learnt that success is a team effort.  I couldn’t recover without the help, love and support from my family, friends and doctors/therapists. I have the same approach with running.  The never ending support from friends and family inspires me.  They are always behind me, no matter what my next goal is.  My coach, Mike Coughlin @ Discomfort Zone and I have been working together for a long time.  I see physio and chiro regularly.  And I have the greatest pleasure to represent some pretty cool companies: Runningskirts, Ultimate Direction, Brooks, and Icespike.    

Tell us about your local running scene? How will you be preparing for Golden?

I live in Barrie, Ontario.  Barrie itself isn’t a very large city but I’m within driving distance to some very cool running spots.  Simcoe County forest and Copeland Forest hold a dear spot in my heart.  They are the closest to me so I spend many hours training on those trails.  When time allows, I drive to Collingwood, Algonquin Park or Hockley Valley to get hill training.  I love technical, single track with lots of climbing. I’ll be preparing for Golden by running as much as I can on that type of terrain. 

What are you most excited about at Golden? Do you foresee any challenges in this unique race format? 

I’m very excited to give stage racing a try.  Stage racing has been on my bucket list for a while.  I love visiting British Columbia and look forward to the beautiful climbs and sceneries during the race.  I have never been to Kicking Horse before.  I look forward to seeing where my coffee comes from! 

The challenges I foresee is muscle soreness. For example, I can’t imagine waking up Sunday morning feeling fresh.  Hydration, caloric intake, foam rolling, ice baths will all be carefully executed over the weekend. 

Do you have any advice for runners who have big dreams but are facing physical issues or challenges?

My biggest advice would be to surround yourself with a good support system. You don’t need any negativity.  It will just bring you down and hold you back.  Our bodies can do some pretty amazing things.  There are stories and stories of people overcoming challenges.  Don’t give up on yourself! Believe you can do it and you will overcome the challenge.