Charlie Lawrence Broke the 50-Mile World Record – but He’s Not Surprised 

After a Grade 4 Sacral Stress Fracture, the runner put visualization to the test believing he could break the record right up until he did.

Staff Writer
Staff Writer
 min read
February 16, 2024

For most people, breaking a world record would be no small feat. For marathoner Charlie Lawrence, it was inevitable. 

After crossing the finish line of his world-record-breaking race in November 2023, Lawrence was anything but surprised. “I don’t want to say it was anti-climatic,” Lawrence says when asked how he felt post-race, “but I finished and I was pretty fatigued, and Allison [Lawrence’s girlfriend] grabbed me, and I said, ‘I told you I was gonna do that.’ That’s all I said.”

While some might take an ‘I told you so’ as a sign of arrogance, Lawrence’s confidence had humble beginnings. After missing all of 2022 with a grade-four sacral stress fracture, the marathoner was faced with a setback that instead of discouraging him, inspired him to push himself to his limits. 

Throughout his training and rehab sessions, Lawrence would frequently tell his girlfriend, “‘I want to break this world record. I’m going to break it.’ And she’d be like, ‘You’re in the pool; you haven’t run in months. Why are you saying this?’” 

All images credit: Kenny Withrow

Despite the doubts that came from his stress fracture and time away from running, Lawrence spent months training and picturing himself breaking the record. Come race day, he was ready to prove he wasn’t just talk.

“I got to the point where I was on that start line in Illinois, and I was just like, ‘You’ve been saying this to yourself. You’ve been saying this to Allison, to your family members, to my old training partners for years and months. Just go execute. Even before the gun went off, I truly believed I was going to go get it and have it,” Lawrence says. 

The now-world-record-holder attributes his success to the power of visualization and taking things one step at a time, saying he took the 50-mile race station by station and mile by mile. “That’s a long way to go no matter how you slice it up,” Lawrence says of what it feels like to stand at the starting line. Whether he’s running a marathon or a 50-mile distance, Lawrence says that he tells himself to “just click it off, still have money in the bank, and just gradually convince yourself that you’re going to do it throughout the race.” 

“Even if you don’t feel good, you can do it for a couple of miles. Even when it starts getting harder, you convince yourself you’re going to go until the next bottle. You’re going to get your nutrition, you’re going to feel better. I didn’t feel any better,” he says, laughing,” but says that he continued to push through by telling himself to “Suck it up for three miles, and then you’ll feel better.” 

“It’s just mind games,” he says. “Over and over, step by step. Visualize every point in that race and where you hope to be.” 

Now a few months post-race, Lawrence says the world record is “finally starting to sink in.” 

“It’s obviously a massive, massive achievement and I’m super proud of it, but it’s something that I just fully believed was within my ability for a couple of years. It wasn’t really a relief, but it was just all of the work, and all of the hours on the bike, hours in the pool, all of the miles – it paid off, so it was pretty gratifying for sure, but I didn’t surprise myself whatsoever. That sounds super arrogant, but I truly just believed I could go do it. If you don’t truly believe that you can do it, there’s really no point in even trying.” 

Now looking ahead to what’s next, the ever-competitive Lawrence says that he hopes “someone goes after my world record because ultimately it would be fun for me to go try to break it again. That’s the one thing that just drives me – competition. I’m trying to be the best I can and it’s just fun to beat people at a sport you can enjoy.” 

Apart from breaking his world record again, the distance runner hopes to tackle the 50-miler in the foreseeable future but is in no hurry to expand his distance by too much. “I’m good at what I’m doing right now. I broke a world record; I don’t want to jump up to double that distance just yet,” Lawrence says of enjoying being in a space where he can dominate. 

You can keep an eye on what Lawrence does next by following him @lawrence_char.

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