Episode number 36

Jim Walmsley | Set Big Goals

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It was an honor to welcome ultrarunning sensation Jim Walmsley to the show! Jim has been a personal inspiration of mine and has single-handedly changed the paradigm in our sport over the last 5 years. We cover a lot of ground in this 90min conversation, exploring what sets Jim apart as a man and athlete. We talk about his sporting heroes, his relationship to social media, self-belief and self doubt, dealing with critics, his personal time trial on the Hardrock 100 course, the Golden Trail World Championship, and much more.

Dylan Bowman: Hello, welcome to the well I am Dylan Bowman. And today we have a very special guest, a man who will need no introduction. It is the great Jim Walmsley. It was of course, a big honor and privilege to host Jim on the show. And it was so, so fun for me to explore different subjects and probe. Some of the things that I've always wanted to know about him with the man himself. And I think you guys are really going to dig it. We hop around a lot and cover a ton of ground in this nearly 90 minute conversation. And I'm pretty excited about how it turned out. So I'm gonna keep the intro short so we can get right to it. But before we do just a quick thing, I just wanted to say that next week's episode of this show is going to be a very, very important one, especially for consistent listeners to the podcast. We're gonna be making a very big announcement that I don't want you to miss. It is the end of the well as we know it, but it is also just the beginning of something bigger and better. And I'm so excited and I couldn't be more thrilled to share it with you. So make sure you listen to the show next week, where we will share more details, but for now, please welcome the legend Jim Walmsley, Jim Walmsley. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for doing this. How are you?

Jim Walmsley: Thanks, Steve. Good. How are you, man?

Dylan Bowman: I'm great. I'm great. Yeah, it's a, it's a pleasure to have you on I, uh, you know, of course in our messages that we are bouncing back and forth, you know, I know you get a lot of requests, so, um, I'm grateful. You'd spend some time chatting with me and I, I hope it's a little different from your, your standard podcast, but I mean to start, maybe give everybody just, uh, how you're feeling, how are things in Flagstaff, Arizona? It seems you're training really hard. Um, how's everything going?

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Things are good. Uh, weather's been pretty mild so far. Uh, I think we've started to get some cooler temperatures, but nothing too extreme. And so train's been clicking along, uh, kind of just building into another block and, um, yeah, couple of big weeks coming up, hopefully

Dylan Bowman: Big weeks for you are like unfathomable weeks for, for most of us. So,

Jim Walmsley: Uh, I'm usually pretty buried and not much of a human being, uh, while doing it

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, well, I mean, most of us would be in, in the emergency room if we tried to replicate it. So, you know, kudos to you, you're an inspiration. And, you know, as a fan of yours, I've obviously listened to pretty much every podcast you've probably ever done. And so my goal is to, uh, you know, sort of plug some holes in your story, that things that I'm just genuinely curious about. So I think in our conversation, it won't have much of a, a linear quality to it. I think we'll kind of bounce around quite a bit without much of a coherent direction, but, uh, I hope it's fun and interesting for you. And I wanna start with a question I've asked a few other people that I think is fun and revealing, and that is just getting to know you, I'd like to kind of hear who some of your sporting heroes were growing up, who, uh, you looked up to as an athlete and how they influenced your career.

Jim Walmsley: Um, well I guess like the, the cool one that I always start with of like probably first big running inspiration, um, that catch that some people know, and a lot of people don't, but, uh, this guy, Kenny Cormier from Douglas high school in Arizona. So if you're in the like high school running world in probably 2004, 2000, yeah, 2004, I think he won Footlocker nationals and he just came outta nowhere. He was from small, I think he was actually homeschooled, uh, outta Douglas, Arizona. And like basically his thing, uh, was like, he just started logging 90 miles a week, his senior year of high school and just crushed everybody like on a national level. And, um, yeah, I remember like just pulling every news clipping as a freshman in high school and just absorbing everything about it and looking into that. And like, I think from the very beginning, I was kind of hooked on big mileage right there.

Jim Walmsley: Um, I think luckily I do pretty well with that and it's worked out alright. I think that's more random chance cuz I think yeah, different people have different successes with intensities and volume and especially health wise. So that's been a little lucky, but, um, or who knows maybe I'd do better with different intensity. Yeah. Um, and then speaking of that, I mean like my college coach was a big, uh, different type of influence where she came from a Julie Benson came from a 800, 1500 meter track background. So like I maxed out like 85, 80, 85 miles a week in college, but did some really, uh, high intensity quality workouts, uh, to do that and ran some decent PRS like kind of in what the, the middle distance world that maybe I wouldn't have been able to run that fast if I wasn't doing the type of quality with that. Yeah. Um, and then athlete wise, I mean, I don't know. I, I grew up as a big sports fan, so definitely like Arizona stuff, uh, through and through I think Charles Barkleys, probably my favorite athlete growing up.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Randy Johnson with the diamond bags or something.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Yeah. Randy Johnson, the big unit, uh, was in Phoenix when they won the world series. So that was pretty big, um, like Steve Nash days and stuff. So definitely grew up with like big sports and Phoenix and stuff. But uh, I'd say I've kind of gotten away from big sports nowadays and yeah. Like I love following a niche sport, like with ultra running, I think it's a self self, like fulfilling cycle of obsession. Um, this year's been a big like step towards really trying to follow the cycling season, which was actually really fun. Um, because it was just all like lined up one after another and yeah, I don't know how those guys like made it through a season and like while van art and stuff, or just going straight into a cycling or a CYC cross season of just, oh my gosh. It's uh, yeah. It's

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. What a beast. I I've become such a big fan of the wild van art. And for those who are listening, definitely look him up. He's a cycle across champion who turned into this grand tour machine who won a couple stages in the tour of France and is just a, a super compelling athlete. Were you, were you just hammering your, your swift, uh, trainer watching all these, uh, great European cycling races all summer? I know that was part of your training.

Jim Walmsley: It didn't overlap with the cycling season. Um, but in around may when like things were more locked downish and more appropriate to just stay as close to home as possible. Uh, I think not that we should get away or we have gotten away from that. Not that we necessarily should have or whatnot, but at least in my timeframe, like I would say may was that time where like I was doing the same loop from home and then just pounding out a couple hours on ZW and it's been one of the more like overtrained periods I've ever had in my life. I think cause I can't, um, I can't pace myself as well on the bike. Yeah. And then I give myself the excuse that I'm at 7,000 feet, so

Dylan Bowman: Oh yeah. The natural handicap

Jim Walmsley: I'm still going after like yeah. Doms and stuff like that while I'm doing it, but uh, just getting buried and then eventually I wasn't able to push on the pedals. I was like sometimes even just walking home on a nine mile run of like, just having to take off a couple weeks before just saying I need to reset and cut up the cycling. So it hasn't gotten back in, but I I've really enjoyed with, uh, a bit this year.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. That's awesome, man. I've been, have you gotten

Jim Walmsley: With

Dylan Bowman: No, no, I'm not on swift, but I'm definitely a fan of, uh, of riding on the trainer and occasionally blasting out some intervals. I think I would be a little bit too embarrassed to, uh, go up against some of these

Jim Walmsley: Zip, everything. Uh,

Dylan Bowman: I know. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: It it's fun. It just gamifies it.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, no, I, I should do it. I should just, uh, you know, put my ego aside or do it anonymously and uh, and go do some racing. I think that would be really fun, especially in today's environment. I didn't anticipate we would go, you know, into, into cycling, but it actually reminds me of something I'm curious about. And that is just like, I know when you were younger, you sort of had this curiosity in exploring triathlon and stuff because I know you're, you're good on the bike. You're obviously a phenomenal runner. Did you ever think about making a run at professional triathlon iron manner otherwise?

Jim Walmsley: Um, so I guess like, it definitely crossed my mind and I did a couple triathlons up in Montana. Um, I think I did a couple sprints in great falls and then I did, uh, Olympic distance in pson Montana and like, yeah, we swam up in Flathead lake and, and then I just got toasted on the bike actually, cuz yeah, I didn't even have like arrow bars. I just had a straight up road bike and these guys showed up with straight up TT bikes. I'm like, there's no way those guys are beating me on the bike right now. But then like they put like four minutes into me just on the bike section. I'm like, that's impossible. Really. It's just crazy. It blew my mind. Just uh, well arrows, everything in, in that sort of stuff. And mm-hmm, , there's been, I don't know if you watch like the GCN YouTube videos and these guys.

Jim Walmsley: Uh, but um, I think it's size racing like three or I think he raced two road guys on the GCN team and then he just raced three and he still beat them like all by himself and then arrow bike. So I think when you're actually just going for time like that and, and then you get into Ironman, I think they they're not UCI stuff. So the positioning on a Ironman, bike's even more like cheater risk than a TT bike you'd see in the tour de France. So, um, adapt in it. Uh, but more or less, I guess the time I was kind of thinking about anything like that. Um, my job was in the air force and ultimately that was going to, um, take O like be my life fir like my first priority. Um, so whether it was running or triathlon, it was gonna be more of a hobby thing rather than, um, a full on approach and like a lot of college runners, I think struggling with this like really good fitness after college, but trying to transition into a different chapter of life. I think I was right there with a lot of people and struggling of like how serious to take your running and how to figure out how many off days to take, because I think off days turn into off weeks, turn into now you're just completely outta shape and it's not fun to run. So, um,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, I think

Jim Walmsley: A lot of stuff there.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. I think a lot of people have felt that over the course of this COVID year where no motivation exists in off days turn to off weeks in off months. So, um, yeah. Yeah. Thanks for, uh, always being transparent with your training to, to inspire the rest of us. And I think I speak for everybody in that once you sort of like check some of these bucket list races off with comrades and UTM B and hard rock, etcetera, you should time trial in Ironman just to, just so we all can see what you can do there.

Jim Walmsley: The guy that just, he is. I mean, I think, let me see. Uh, I think it's Y Friona

Dylan Bowman: Fred. Yeah. Y

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. He's with Hogan now. So I'm like, I can't wait till the day I crossed path with him. Totally. Um, he's maybe 38.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: He won three, four times in the last, like five years. So yeah, it kind of gives me hope of like, well, I don't know if I, so I'm not very good at being successful. And I think my first attempts and

Dylan Bowman: Dude, I want to talk about this. This is something I want to talk about

Jim Walmsley: Now. Hard rock is on that list. So yeah, I don't know. Um, but if I was more successful, I would love to do an Ironman in my later thirties.

Dylan Bowman: Like hell yeah.

Jim Walmsley: While I still got some background in training right now.

Dylan Bowman: Heck yeah. Well dude, it's so funny. I wanted to get to this later, but we might as well talk about it now. I mean, as a, as a fan of yours and you know, don't, don't take this personally. You just said it about yourself, but you know, a theme that we've noticed or at least that I've noticed as a fan of yours is that consistently you, you fail on your first try. Of course there are some exceptions, for example, running a two 15 marathon on your debut, but in trail running, you know, you at speed go, you had a huge implosion way back in the day lake Sonoma, you had a little bit smaller implosion before you figured that out. And you own both those course records by a big margin. Now, Western states, obviously everybody knows that story harder or yeah. U T M B, you haven't raced to your potential yet, but we all assume that eventually that will happen hard rock. But you mentioned this year with your personal time trial, has that theme been kind of throughout your life and, and maybe how have those, some of those failures kind of, um, informed your subsequent successes?

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. I mean, I guess a lot of it, I don't think I, I don't consider myself like just a super talent in a lot of ways. Cuz you can like whether, I mean, so in a lot of my running career I've just gotten beat up and, and that's why when people talk about the slippery slope of like, well, how would this person do an old running? I it's really hard to say, cuz yeah, in so much of my running career, I was never the best runner. Now. I feel like I just joined the, the club of like the most stubborn and uh, it's just less people than I used to race back in the day. And then I go back into the marathon, I show up in a race where I raced all these guys back in high school and college and a lot, I, I got a couple of 'em this time, but then a lot of 'em still beat me.

Jim Walmsley: I mean I did, I wasn't near a podium spot at all. Yeah. Um, and not to mention like the top five guys were just in a different league than pretty much everyone else. Uh, so yeah, there's some reality checks with it. I think a lot of it has to do with specific training. Um, but yeah, so I guess with that, not taking the mentality of being the most talented, there's always a thing of like no expectation to necessarily knock it out of the park, but also sticking with a grind over time. And um, the frustrating part about it is probably when you mess up one year, you have to wait a whole nother calendar year. You have to hope that no pandemic shows up. You have to hope that there's no forest fires that cancel the race. Like, um, I've never gotten a chance to run, uh, the north face 50 mile and now that's not even on the calendar anymore. So, um, yeah, a lot of the things you are in control of and all the more reason I guess approaching 2021 is just, uh, gonna be, try to be ready and be opportunistic more than anything than, than making a set in stone calendar that you normally would. Um, I think you gotta hit your training and when you realize like kind of indicators are, are firing, you try to find the right race and show up and uh, knock one outta the park. That way more so than just this perfectly planned calendar.

Dylan Bowman: Right. But if you, if you screw up, like you said, you have to await a whole nother calendar year. Did you, as a, as a kid, like were there times at which you set these, these big goals and you, and you failed on your first attempt and, and came back and ultimately had a huge triumphant success. I mean, it just seems like a, an interesting theme in your career and that it tends to go bad the first time and then you have like a transcendental type performance. Yeah,

Jim Walmsley: I, I think so. I grew up more on team sports. So mm-hmm, , I would say there's less of goal setting individually like that, that you can objectively quantify. Um, it's gonna be team oriented. So while you can always blame your team, I'm just kidding. Uh, but , uh, so like I grew up as a soccer player and I think I was always having to work really, really hard to stay on like a starting lineup roster. Um, I felt like I put in a lot of hours, like just tons of hours. I think probably the most training per week I ever did was growing up playing soccer and like getting dropped off at right after school. And then getting picked up at 10:00 PM like that night and like hopping into other practices and everything. Um, that felt like a very dedicated time in life. And then more or less, I started joining the cross country team and started having fun with friends more so than like, I wasn't necessarily close friends with my soccer teammate mm-hmm so, um, I, all of a sudden had a social circle involved with a place that I could put work into.

Jim Walmsley: Um, but then running came a lot more naturally initially. So, and then I would say things like the air force academy is not an easy route. Um, mm-hmm, , it's hard. Uh, it's grindy it's, you can have good days, you can have bad days. And that's probably one of the better experiences I've had in my life with just an end goal, four years away. And day one is the bottom of the bottom mm-hmm and it keep, well, maybe it keeps going further down for a couple more months before it gets a little better, but even junior, senior years, like you still have a lot of tough days. You still have a lot of discipline. You still

Dylan Bowman: Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: Have everybody watching you and this and that and you gotta be on point. Um, so I would say like,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, well you can

Jim Walmsley: A lot into my,

Dylan Bowman: You can totally see how the, uh, the academy is, is the total microcosm of that and that you're being humbled every day and you have to kind of put your ego on the shelf and, you know, sacrifice for the greater good and have this discipline and, and have, uh, yeah, the, the sort of hard work towards some end goal, which, uh, I think makes it easier when you, you know, have an implosion at, uh, speed go to come back a couple years later and, and absolutely destroy it. And I think there's, there's a big theme in that, in your life, which is really interesting.

Jim Walmsley: I think it's also running though with just always being opportu or, uh, um, what am I looking for, but uh, always thinking that you have more of yourself to get out of, there's always a little bit more you could do to improve. And with that, like, it also reminds me of my track days of like, I feel like I left a lot on the track to say, but at some day you're gonna have to walk away and go like, yeah, I gave it my best shot. That's what time I, I, I ran which in track or marathon it's a lot of times how you view yourself a value as a runner of like, this is who I am. I'm a two 15 marathoner of like, well, that's kind of disappointing on the whole global student marathoning. Right. I guess we'll just turn the page on that one.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, not, not quite yet. I'm sure you've got another one of those in your,

Jim Walmsley: In your

Dylan Bowman: Career. Well, maybe, maybe someday

Jim Walmsley: Very different training. I like right now, it's maybe looking into linking that sort of training into some road ultra stuff, which I wouldn't say my passion's in either. Um, but at the same time, yeah, I got a little pop in the leg still, so we totally, we gotta try to do that.

Dylan Bowman: Cool. Well, we'll get to that in a little bit, cuz I, I sense you're referencing comrades and I would like to chat about that with you. So what your plans are there, um, but kind of staying in this same vein and you just mentioning, you know, the, the times that you run end up being the person you are, it has sort of becomes part of your identity identity. Even if you feel like it doesn't properly represent your potential, it kind of brings up something I'm interested about and just like what it's been like for you to sort of like transform from this sort of soft spoken, uh, air force academy cadet to now being like a somewhat world famous athlete. Like, has that been a tough transition for you? Just like adjusting to kind of like the notoriety, like does it come naturally to you to have profiles written about you in the New York times? Have you struggled with it at all?

Jim Walmsley: Um, I'd say it's a slow change. Like it hasn't been just overnight different. Um, so that kind of makes it that normalizes it a little bit when it happens slowly over, what's now been about five years and I would say it's definitely, it was most odd when I first started, like maybe I won a couple races and all of a sudden someone would be like, Hey, you're you're Jim. Right. And you'd just be like, who are you? How do you know me? And like, yeah. Did I do anything to you? Like

Dylan Bowman: ,

Jim Walmsley: Um, which I'm sure like you've gone through a lot of that of, uh, day one. It, it, you feel like, and even when you're looking at contract wise, like you first put on a single for a company and like now you're representing this and do you feel confident in that or do you feel a little self-conscious of now there's pressure from it or? Um, I remember being non, like not sponsored and seeing a guy in the Nike kit and just going, like you can lead today and like just sitting on him or something in a race rather than like, just pulling my own fair share, just going like, man, you're the one with the contract you go and with the race and stuff like that. So, um, I would say the slower process normalizes it. So it's hard to say, um, it, it, yeah, it slowly got more normal.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. It's interesting. And I think another kind of, um, thing that is interesting about you is just like, and that I'm curious to learn a little bit more about is just your relationship with social media. I mean, like in the current moment, compared to other your average world, famous athlete, you seem to keep a healthy distance from social media in that you just, you don't like post a lot. I mean, you post when it's important, but otherwise you're, you don't have like a big consistent presence. What's your philosophy around both like your posting and maybe even like your scrolling yeah. On social media.

Jim Walmsley: I think, I mean, I follow up on it. I like following what people are saying and doing. I think people notice when maybe people talk too much. Um, people don't notice as much maybe when you talk less, which can be a good thing. Um, for me, I would say that's probably a part of my personality that still hasn't really come through in social media. And the fact that like, it takes me forever to make a post just like everyone. I never know what to say. Did I say something stupid? Did I make a typo? Um, Hey Jess, can you read this over? Did, did you see anything? Um, I it's. So it consumes like a lot of maybe my emotional part of it mm-hmm to make posts and, um, I'm not necessarily, don't feel very like strong opinionated about a lot of things, but then now enter 2020 and all of a sudden everybody's very opinionated and polarized, so yeah.

Jim Walmsley: Um, yeah, I, I think there's good and bad to it. I would say ultimately I'm not comfortable with social media, so that's probably why you see a little less posts out of it. I always kind of have a goal to make, uh, more posts and I'm trying to get better maybe at like taking a couple pictures myself and doing stuff like that to, to do it. Because I think like, as I'm sure you experience, like when you go and travel places, that's how other people know you and that's like how they learn about you and they appreciate that connection through the social media channel. So I think I need to keep that in mind more and try to try to do more. But at the same time,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. I mean, I mean, it's, it's a struggle and I think for some people it does come really naturally and for others, it, it doesn't. And I find myself similarly like conflicted about it, where, you know, I'm out running and there's something beautiful. And I'm just like, man, I should take a picture of this. But like at the same time, it feels like a totally, uh, kind of unfortunate obligation, you know, to like have to take a picture of something to post. But you know, you're, you're a high volume trainer, but you're not a, a high volume poster. Uh, which I think is something that, that I appreciate appreciate about you. Do

Jim Walmsley: You, do you usually run with your phone?

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, almost always. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: Okay. So like I never run with my phone

Dylan Bowman: Really. Even when you go to the canyon you're, you're, phoneless usually,

Jim Walmsley: There's not service in there.

Dylan Bowman: like,

Jim Walmsley: For me, like it's just another like

Dylan Bowman: Dead weight.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Dead weight. I'm I'm trying to rip through there. No, I'm just kidding. Uh, no, I, cause I get like all sorts of comments when I'm going through the canyon. Um, but one of the ones that stick out is like, oh, why are you running? You should slow down and enjoy this. And one of the biggest reflections on that is just, this is how I like to move through this space. This is how I en I, I couldn't enjoy it more. Yeah. Being it at any other pace than me just running through the canyon and like, that's me on cloud nine.

Dylan Bowman: I think every trail runner has gotten that type of a comment somewhere.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. And it's just, I think yeah, different, uh, different paces to enjoy things. Uh,

Dylan Bowman: Totally

Jim Walmsley: All the same. And I think it's still the point

Dylan Bowman: It reminds me of something else I wanted to talk about. It sort of relates to social media as well. And that is just like, when you're at your level, like actually having haters or, or critics and you know, you've probably have experienced this. I know, especially in your early days in the sport, you know, you ha you had this sort of like self-confidence about you and this willingness to publicly state your goals. And I think, you know, it's, it made some people kind of chafe a little bit, especially within, within ultra running. Did that criticism impact you at all, either on an emotional level or in how you publicly comport yourself within the sport?

Jim Walmsley: No, I think sometimes maybe it's a little motivating. Yeah. Um, especially, yeah, you get, I get several like regular blow up. So when you're out front and especially when you don't have any wins to your name at all sort of thing, and you go out front again, it's just like, you screw this up. Everyone's gonna be on your game. And in reality, you're just tiny at, at this point in a sport that like, no one's watching, so it doesn't even matter. But I mean, just like everyone in the world, like you see the world through your own lens and you think more eyes are on you than actually are a lot of the times. And yeah. Um, yeah, so I, I would say sometimes there's some pressure to be like, just, just stick it back, uh, that I like and maybe feed off of that. It's a bit fun, but there's always so many more people rooting for someone to have a breakthrough than there are to like sit there and say, this is that, and this is that. And you did it again. Uh, and at the end of the day, it also just doesn't matter. So I, I would say the coolest part about it all is it's just turned into so much white noise that, um, yeah, it it's in a good spot now, cuz no matter what, there's always someone on every side of the fence and doesn't matter,

Dylan Bowman: It is. It's the unfortunate reality we live in now. But yeah, I think athletes at your level, you know, they have to deal with criticism more so than the average person. And sometimes it's it's for the best, but obviously, you know, you guys are human as well and having anonymous people kind of be mean on the internet can have its its impact on your, so your emotional and psychological health. And I think one of the other kind of interesting things that this sort of leads into is just like this belief in yourself that it seems like you have and like, you know, you're, it's your willingness to set these huge goals and state them publicly makes it just apparent that you like believe in your ability to achieve them. And I think that's what really sets the great athletes apart from, you know, the good or average athletes does that self-belief come, come naturally to you. Is there something about stating your goals out loud in any, especially these really ambitious goals that you find helpful?

Jim Walmsley: Um, I, I mean, I, I would say just going to good goal or like good goal setting, one of the things is, say it out loud, write it down and keep yourself accountable towards it. Um, I think that sets you up for better success than keeping your goals private and not letting yourself be accountable. Um, so I would say maybe that's a part of the way that I put pressure on myself to do the training, to show up to a race that I think is gonna be competitive, uh, of where I wanna be. And um, yeah, just knowing that it's out there and don't skip, today's run like get out the door and even on hard days go shuffle something or, or also just know like when the rest day is needed.

Dylan Bowman: So, but how do you cultivate that belief in yourself? And are there ever moments when, when you doubt yourself once you've stated these big goals?

Jim Walmsley: Oh yeah. I mean, even in races I could be leading by 20 minutes and I'm just like, I'm gonna crack, I'm gonna crack and just, you like, hold it together for another mile and you just start breaking things down. So I would say, uh, things look way cooler on the surface than what's going on. And I, I think I relate to people with just the self doubt, the, your own personal lack of confidence and, or just going and training and going like, did I do too much? Am I gonna bounce back from this really big block of training? Like, is it gonna come back in the taper mm-hmm um, cuz sometimes it hasn't and right. Uh, but you just, so I'd say ignorance is really powerful. Don't overthink it. Just bully ahead. And uh, yeah. Uh, ignorance, stupidity, bravery, courage. It's all the same.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well I think it's, uh, freeing to a lot of us to hear and understand the fact that even Jim Wellesley has self-doubt in himself sometimes even though, you know, you've achieved so many great things and you're so willing to like put yourself out there publicly and, and just like make these really grand set, these really grand goals for yourself. Um, what, what part of your game do you see as your biggest weakness right now?

Jim Walmsley: Um, I mean the long stuff,

Jim Walmsley: Like when you start approaching 24 hours and through the night, I think is a crux that I haven't had success in quite yet, like really good success where I feel like I've been really rock solid all the way through. Um, but it's also, I would say maybe a lack of focus on it right now too, because the bread and butter's been kind of around that 50 mile hundred K uh, or a fast, a hundred mile effort. That's not through a night. I mean, you're trying to race the night, essentially, even in these 50 miles, people are starting to bring out the headlights and if I nail it, I'm probably not pulling out a headlight. So unless it started really late. Yeah. But those are things that I think play into, um, complications. And just more situations you have to balance with, uh, UT M B stands out hard rock, I mean, hard rock essentially just turned into like I'm not in a good spot to go through the night right now and go at eight hours straight of like, I gotta get picked up like this just isn't how you start this section.

Jim Walmsley: Um, but a lot of it's practice, I think embracing the elements a bit more. So I, I see there's a lot of time to improve in that area. So it doesn't really concern me too much, but I think as I transition and dabble more and more and more in that realm, um, there'll be more failures, but also things will start to click and start to work out. And that's kind of just the general trend in progression. You have to keep in mind on the long road of it and mm-hmm and I think, uh, like both of us we're getting little older and it's like, well, that's kind of the life that's calling us more so than the 50 K uh, pancake flat trail race. Like the fast kids are gonna show up to that one.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, dude, you're 30 years old now

Jim Walmsley: I'm turning 31 next month. Are

Dylan Bowman: You really wow. Good for you. Huh? I turned 35 next year, dude. I can't believe that. Oh man. That's so Hey

Jim Walmsley: Clock. Doesn't stop.

Dylan Bowman: Doesn't stop for anybody, man. Okay. Um, so do you feel like you have like a healthy relationship with winning and losing? I mean, obviously, you know, you mentioned some of these failures where, I mean, you've still finished fifth at UT M B you've dropped out one time and then you had this hard rock time trial thing that you've referenced now a couple of times. Do you like when you don't win a race, for example, in the Azos last month, whenever that was at the golden trail championship, you finish second, which is kind of an unnatural thing for you, especially in the last few years of your career. What's your relationship like with winning and losing? Do you get self critical after when you don't win everything?

Jim Walmsley: Um, yeah, I'm definitely self critical in trying to analyze what I could have done better, um, where maybe other people made ground where I was able to make ground and kind of feelings, um, about it, I would say, yeah, I'm still not a good loser per se, but at the same time, like you gotta grow up with it. It's part of it. And it's part of how you, you make yourself better and it's part of the process. That's gonna bring you back, uh, for the next race, a little bit more prepared and not cut off guard and flat footed. So, um, I, I think if you can take away positives out of it, it, it really doesn't matter. Um, just try to, to build off of it. And I think you learn a lot more out of the times that either you drop or things go bad or you get beat, um, a lot there there's a lot more critical thinking going on. And when races go so well, you overlook so many things that do go well, that a lot of times you don't learn as much from that. Mm-hmm

Dylan Bowman: What about the other way around, you know, there's this phenomenon where Olympic athletes, you know, like even Michael Phelps, when he was winning a hundred gold medals after the games he had, you know, this sort of like melancholy or depression, even though he was super successful. Do you ever find yourself kind of in that boat too, where you're you train your ass off for a few months for Western states, for example, smash the course record, everything goes great and then you may fall into a hole.

Jim Walmsley: Um, so I think I've been lucky, not like avoiding injuries for a bit, but probably the good thing and bad thing about our sport is we don't ha we have as much of an out off season as you want. And I mean, I've kind of just cranked things into the next, like rolled things into the next block. And it's almost been nice this year to pump the brakes a little bit, but I almost feel this year is where we've had a lot less, I've had points in training that I've just felt more tired than ever. And sometimes, I don't know, like going back to may and and stuff, like, I still struggle with distinguishing the difference between like an undirected motivation to like keep you training and push you hard or the over training and more or less the takeaway was both felt very similar. Um, so it's been one of my early philosophies of like keeping another goal on the calendar. So when an athlete like Michael Phelps or someone that's in Olympic sport has another four year gap to go between that big high of the Olympics. Um, I think luckily we don't, uh, experience that quite as much and we get a UT M B in a Western states and every single year. And, uh, if, if you train for a couple more months, well, there's gonna be another one right around the corner.

Dylan Bowman: It's such a good point. What you said about goal setting and how important that is. And I think something that I'll keep in mind, you know, even after sort of the competitive running days are in the rear view mirror, I think just, I operate much better when I have like a concrete goal that I'm working towards, whether that's in running or in some other personal or professional context, I think that just leads to, to much better outcomes and, and much more self discipline. And speaking of which, yeah, I wanna talk a bit about your training, which of course we've sort of, um, sort of referenced a couple of times now. And I think one of the things that's so interesting about you, part of the thing, one of the things that I think is so interesting about your story is the fact that your self coached. I I'm curious, I, on a practical level, how you go about thinking about your, the, your training plans, you know, do you put pen to paper, do you make an Excel spreadsheet? Do you reach out for advice for people? And if so, who are those people?

Jim Walmsley: Um, so I usually put pen to paper, starts out with getting a ruler out, making some sort of, uh, calendar and putting the race date there and then just starting the weeks back towards to where we're at and how much time we have. And then, um, probably the easiest way to summarize it. Is it like for me, it's gonna be, um, miles volume based would be the first thing I'm looking at, depending on the race. I'll also look at, um, vertical feet climbs per week. Uh, I'm not really analyzing much for hours because more or less, uh, miles and vert tend to go hand in hand with the hours for the most part. And then if I'm doing a faster race, especially like the hours are just kind of insignificant, um, in some ways, uh, you can do it other ways. And especially for someone that wouldn't be as volume based.

Jim Walmsley: So you can get a aerobic fitness, a lot of other ways to, to add time. But, um, most mine's all running miles based and it'll be like just a, so I guess it would be important to get recovered from the last race. So that needs to be in mind. And generally I look at two blocks ahead. So not just the race I'm doing, but I'll start trickling in a little bit of specific workouts for the very next block. Um, if it's especially if the race is different, so that the next block transitions a little more naturally. So you come down from the last race and then the simple, like how many weeks do I have and what type of mileage do I think I can safely build up to hold for three, four weeks and then drop down two weeks before for a really big race.

Jim Walmsley: And maybe one week before for a race I'm a little less concerned about, um, which is a bit riskier, but at the same time, I think goes to, uh, prioritizing races and how much yeah, cuz I think when you taper properly, um, you're taking a big risk because basically you're stepping away from training that's gonna overall throughout the whole year. Take an impact of, well, not, not necessarily productive going towards something else, but it's gonna get you to show up for your, a race. Like hopefully it firing on all cylinders. That's gonna bring everything together in a really special way. So most races will probably be closer to a week long taper rather than a two week long taper. Um, and then it's kind of a cycle and repeat off of that and, and picking may, maybe what's also helped me is picking kind of a diverse races.

Jim Walmsley: Um, so not all the same, not all a hundred miles, not all 50 miles, not like throwing in a half marathon the last couple years, I think has been probably one of the most beneficial things because the half marathon, more than anything, um, I've been able to do a shorter block. I've been able to do faster speed than like marathon training. Um, marathon training, I think is just the, the wor yeah, it's the hardest, like it's the worst, like, because you're doing that speed, but you're also doing so much strength and threshold work. It's, it's everything brought together all at once. You just, all systems are completely fried. Yeah. Um, the half marathons, a little bit more short sweet pop, um, and seems to be a really good, uh, balance or, um, complimentary to especially ultra running and especially shorter punchier races. Um, cuz shorter puncher races probably worry me the most because I think people that are on top of their workouts have such a foot forward mm.

Jim Walmsley: In that where, um, the longer races it's gonna be, how much work did you put in? And as long as you didn't fry yourself in that, which is also a huge balance to ultra running is showing up fresh enough to have that kind of just the gas pedal all day that you're, you're not gonna get demotivated while you're out there because you came in a bit cooked. I think that's one of the biggest mistakes elite runners do. And, and you see, and probably is one of the biggest reasons besides maybe GI distress or contributes to GI distress too, is just coming in a little overcooked. Yeah. And has been a big part of my story of, I think sometimes I overdo it a bit and all of a sudden it seems like the training blocks I overdo, I tend to be more prone to what I would say are just like mistakes that happen on race day with like stomach not doing as well, not wanting it as bad, not pushing as hard. Um, all these like things that come naturally when you're fresh and why a lot of people also have really good success with ultras with a lot lower volume. Yeah. Um, is because their freshness factor is like just ramped up, um, would be my opinion of it. And yeah. So I, I think when you combine the volume fitness and you bring in the freshness and you didn't overcook it that's when you're looking for a good recipe.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. So much good stuff. And what you said. And I think that's what a theme in the podcast that I harp on all the time is, you know, I've always been, you know, a moderate volume athlete, but somebody who just thrives when I have the desire to absolutely smash myself and that comes with, you know, shorter blocks and less heroic training. And I think if I tried to put in two weeks at your volume, I would be completely cooked for the rest of the year. So you're in absolute freak. But you know, the other thing that I think is really interesting is thinking two blocks ahead. That's such a, I think novel approach to take and something that, um, probably has set you up for some success. And it makes me think back to the training you were doing before the Olympic trials, where you doing the over distance, um, sort of long runs before the Olympic trials marathon. And that probably was with the forward vision of applying that training towards comrades after the Olympic trials marathon, which of course was canceled. But you know, as someone who has been prone to going overboard or overcooking yourself, have you ever felt like an urge to get a coach? Or what, what gives you the sort of like confidence in your own approach?

Jim Walmsley: Um, I would say it comes from a lack of belief that many other people know how to do ultra running any better than any one of us. Uh, so like with us, it's uh, um, the co cowboy guys, Tim Fricks, Jared Hazen, Eric SimMan Steven K Cody Reed, like kind of our group of guys. Uh, we're definitely a big, I would say think tank as far as ideas and probably the things that at least for me personally, um, when I throw 'em out to a group and just, everybody's like, yeah, that's completely stupid. It's a good, like just reality check of like, maybe it's kind of stupid and then sometimes like 50, 50, I'll go, ah, they're wrong and I'll do it anyway. Or sometimes I go, yeah, it's a little stupid. Like I shouldn't do that. Um,

Dylan Bowman: Dude, you guys gotta record these conversations. We got it. The ultra world has to hear what the stupid ideas are. I

Jim Walmsley: Too much like badgering and then even just greater trash talking, that's not as politically correct. It might get us into more, uh, less fans rather than

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, sure, sure. Well, that's cool. I mean that's yeah. An amazing resource that you guys have together and you know, I always try and stress this to younger athletes as well is finding people to train with. And it's obviously benefited each of you guys individually and as a collective to be able to have not only people to bounce ideas off of, but to train together and to have, you know, friendship and comradery, I think, you know, spreads the workload around in a way that always helps, you know, across any endurance sport or team sport for that matter. Yeah. Have you started to feel the consequences of the training that you've put in over the last like four or five years?

Jim Walmsley: Well, I mean, part of it is maybe, uh, distinguish the difference between training load and getting a couple years older. Yeah. Um, a little bit one and the same maybe. Uh, but I, I mean just, well I guess since it Azores, I've had more aches, I think with that stage race and then just kind of the style of trail that they ran the course on. I think that was a little bit of a surprise in general. Um, wasn't quite expecting that, especially like even looking at trail runs from Solomon, did a athlete, like team, uh, training week out there once. And I was looking at those runs and things look nice and fluid and no surprises. And then just more or less, they started making new trails on the island that were nothing like I was expecting. They're like, uhoh like the jokes on us.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Um, so with that, it's almost, I've had to do a lot more, uh, almost like little strength things with like bands and hit mobility and stretching that I've definitely neglected the last five years, but I mean the later part of this year, I mean, yeah. Uh, I felt it and I kind of foresee that becoming a more important part of continuing this. Um, and I'm not sure if that's volume based age based, uh, just a race that might have tweaked, uh, for me, like a little bit of my back area, that's now noticing like maybe I, I'm not sure how much twisting I had going on before, but there's a little bit of twisting going on that I need to address because cumulative fatigue, uh, it adds up a little bit. So just little strength things to, to try to stay a little more fresh and a little, little less aches and pains when you get out the door makes a big difference, I think right now compared to, uh, 25. But I think you also forget those little pains that you had three years ago, the same way that you do the current pain you're having.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Well, I mean, as a someone who's a couple years older than you, I can tell you that, uh, yeah. You know, once you start approaching your, your mid thirties, you definitely need to, to emphasize that stuff a little bit more and that's been a big light bulb unlock for me as well is focusing a little bit more on the mobility and the strength. Um, but I mean for you still, I mean, you're gonna put 5,000 miles in again this year, not to mention couple

Jim Walmsley: Yesterday, actually,

Dylan Bowman: Did you, God, you such

Jim Walmsley: A mom. I, I don't think I've ever hit 5,000 miles. Like,

Dylan Bowman: I mean, that's insane in a year when you're, when nobody's racing, you still ran 5,000 miles. You did, you know, probably another few thousand on your bike. I mean, it's just like an insane level of, of volume that you put in. And so, you know, we all want you around for a long time and this leads me into something I also wanted to ask you about. And that is, I remember listening to an interview with you early in your career. You said something to the effect of, I don't think I'll do this past the age of 30, you know, like I don't see myself doing it. I just wanna smash every record, you know, perform as well as I can work my ass off. And then, you know, when it's over, it's kind of over

Jim Walmsley: Funny thing about it though is like, well, a we're here and I think that's your point. Um, but it's also like, well, what are you gonna do next now? And it's like, well, do you wanna go put a job resume together or like fly back for school? And it's like, ah, this is kind fun. So things are definitely transitioning to how can I keep doing this for much longer, um, than definitely four years ago? Um, that was definitely my more my mentality and it, I think it was fun and it was hungry and there was nothing to lose. I would like to still approach it that way. However, when it comes to doing the little things to keep approaching it that way, um, it's where that's gonna be taking a lot more of my time because I would rather be ultra running at 35 than finding, or I, I don't know if coaching, I don't know what I'm gonna do when I grow up, but, uh, right now I like doing this and I've really enjoyed kind of the journey and where this is taking me. So, and I've been really fortunate with, uh, sponsors and Hogan stuff. So, um, yeah, it's like, just keep the ball going at this point. It's definitely evolved way more than I ever thought it would when I started this.

Dylan Bowman: Well, that's great, man. I mean, it's, I mean, there's something that's so compelling about that original approach that you had. And I think this is before, you know, Hoka had come in to support you at the level that I imagine they do. And, you know, you're a young, you know, very ambitious, but not super, you know, well achieved or well accomplished yet at least to the level that you are now. And having that attitude probably contributed to some of that success. And so the trick is now, how do you, how do you keep that attitude without compromising that longevity?

Jim Walmsley: I would say it's the, the David Goggins saying where he is like talks about some dog that just needs to eat the scraps on the ground. Like embracing that mentality is always just a fun image to keep in mind.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, totally.

Jim Walmsley: I mean, what, what do you do to keep yourself motivated and keep going, like as you're transitioning?

Dylan Bowman: Well, this is what I think is interesting that like the kind of the contrast between you and I, and obviously like I don't have the talent or the resume that, that you do, but I've been around a long time, you know, a lot longer than some of the guys who I came up in the sport with. And my approach has always been like, I would prefer to have a solid career for 15 years than it would be to have 4, 3, 4, 5 years of like absolute world class performance followed by retirement, you know? And so that's always been my, um, how I've approached this sport and sort of the long term vision that I've had is like, how could I keep the dream alive for as long as possible? And, but, you know, and I don't think that contributes to being able to smash that course record at Western states two years in a row is what I'm trying to say, you know? And so, so, uh, you know, there's, there's different approaches for different athletes,

Jim Walmsley: I guess what's your opinion on transitioning to, and you've done a lot with like UTMB and stuff, but do you see yourself going further and do you see yourself doing like 24 hour and like stuff like that to stay in the game longer?

Dylan Bowman: probably not, no. I mean like

Jim Walmsley: In trail or

Dylan Bowman: Anything? No. I think, uh, I think a hundred miles is probably as far as I have the ambition to go at this point, maybe that'll change and I'll sign up for a 200 at some point, but if I do anything longer, more multi-day, I think it'd be more adventure based rather than, than race based. I, I definitely have no interest in the Barclay or, um, you know, 24 hours on a track personally, that there's anything wrong with that. But, uh, you know, I still,

Jim Walmsley: This is, this is where, like my inner fire from when I first started in the sport, like it just bugs me that people still talk about Gianni's chorus is 24 hours so much. I mean, especially recently Ks run on the track and then desert solstice just happening. It's gotten a lot of attention. It gets attention every year, but, um, it's just like, none of us are doing that. Like, why are you guys gonna make me put everything down to like, just have this stubbornness to prove a point? And it's like, it's kind of all where the ultra running even started. And at what point do you draw the line of like, this is good enough. Like, I like Western states. I like UT M B yeah. We just need to race here. And, and other things like just like courses change and those course records are just kind of frozen and just the bookmarked in time. Yeah. It's like we don't have to keep racing on the roads. We don't have to keep racing on the track. We don't have to make it twice as long for 200 miles, but, um, I'm not gonna lie. I think my stubbornness is gonna take over eventually, especially as I get older of like, uh, wanting to be a bit competitive still and taking a crack at things and saying, I told you so or anything like

Dylan Bowman: That, no, it's awesome, man. And you know, I want to hear some about, you know, you're both your long term and more immediate goals, but let's, you know, pivot to talk a little bit about what you actually did do this summer. I want to start with the hard rock, personal time trial. Um, you've made a cool video about it. People can check that out. Obviously it didn't go to plan, but maybe give us a, a little encapsulation into what, what went on there. How did the idea materialize and what do you think went wrong? How'd you learn from it?

Jim Walmsley: Well, the quickest way I materialized was 2021 fell apart. So it just left me of like, I've gone out to the San Juans every year, since I started learning about trail running, I think the first year was in 2015, so this was my sixth year going out. And I usually camp in a tent for over a month every summer. Um, and that camp setup's gotten more and more sophisticated every year. Um, and it's been a really fun place. It's only about five hours away. Um, it kind of came at a really tough time though, I would say for our group, um, that was right about just so I was already out there training for it and had plans to do it. But, um, probably like a week or two before was when Tommy rivers got diagnosed, uh, with cancer and was going through much bigger life problems, um, and still is battling chemo and stuff like that.

Jim Walmsley: So it was definitely a very uncomfortable time to promote anything like that. Um, combined with responsible ways to do running and the activities we love in a, in the middle of a pandemic and what's responsible or not. Um, I think things were things were, and still are very judgemental in that aspect. Uh, I think everybody relates in wanting to do stuff, but also feeling, uh, distaste about seeing other people doing it and saying they shouldn't do that or saying they're irresponsible or, or anything like that. So it, I wouldn't say as much promotion went into it as, um, maybe on a different year. It would've, but it probably wouldn't have happened on a different year. And things like that don't happen when you have Western states or comrades or UT M B on the calendar in the middle of the summer that soak up your whole training block, it soaks up like everything you're putting into it in the year.

Jim Walmsley: So, um, and I know the course really well. Um, one of the ideas was to do it all. Uh, well, what I did do was 72 miles of it with no course markings, no GPS, no anything. And trying to just kind of do it as old school as I could with that. Um, but also I didn't really cover the hardest part of the course of, uh, unmarked, um, and kind of the reality was all hit and combined with a little bit of just, uh, stomach problems that had been persisting for a couple hours, which, um, then you realize like these aid stations that are usually there that like, I mean, I was making up chunks on killing splits. Um, not that it was all about chasing killing splits. And one of the things I said was more about the process and getting back to Silverton, but that safety net that races provide us became so of how we can push ourselves so far and take so many big risks and just there's other people out there doing so much behind the scenes to let us as athletes go run this race and especially find our limits and, and yeah, find those limits or push those limits and Bon our brains out and do it in a safe manner.

Jim Walmsley: This was combined with, uh, not having as many of those safety nets. And that was a big reality. I also think in retrospect, um, maybe doing solo efforts should be the opposite way, even though it's not the fastest way. I think it runs a little bit more like U T M B, maybe where UT M B in the direction you'll be running next year. Uh, you go long stretches without aid mm-hmm or just aid stations, um, more remote and without seeing crew. And then later in the race, you go over one pass and just every pass you get to see crew and it starts going like from a long day long stretch to just click, click, click, click, and you start like building a bit of momentum by looking forward to see your, your crew and yeah, more aid like proper aid station again and again and again, where the direction I did it, um, is technically faster, but especially without the aid stations on the course found myself in a tough spot approaching like the next 11 mile.

Jim Walmsley: Well, 2,500, 3000 foot climb up cataract ulch into 11 miles above 12,000 feet. Um, weather was good. It was really cold, but you're also switch backing across the Creek. I took Tim FURK with me, which this I'll throw him under the bus, but, uh, the only funny side note is like the last time he paces me was at Western state's two 17 and more or less he too nice of a guy. And I always talk, it's always like, oh, you're right, man. Like, you're doing great. Like, just keep this up and just like, yeah, I need someone a little tougher. Maybe he needs next time. Cause now he needs to also revenge. Like this can't be a thing of if he wants to pace doing this. Uh, and even the idea of no Pacers crossed my mind for this. Um, but more or less a friends that were more worried about that situation of doing it with no one and no one knowing where I was, even though I had a spot tracker and I had my phone out there, so I felt fine with it. But, um, yeah. Going across Polk Creek area, um, it, you are just going in and out of these willows that even, even like with

Dylan Bowman: No markings. Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: I've been out there with the hard rockers marking the course and the old timers are debating, which Bush you run into. And it's a little subjective ish on some of 'em. Um,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, but

Jim Walmsley: Also worried about just getting in a bad situa like from a not good situation and having one of the best fun, most fun runs I've ever had in my life. Like, I, I don't think I've ever smiled more during that 72 miles than any other ultra I've ever done. Um, it was just one of the best experiences. And also, I don't think so. My, my life tracking got leaked out. I think by John Menger on accident, he just put it on Facebook, but he was in Telluride and he was like, oh, I wanna see you run through. I'm like, here's my tracking. And then he just put it on Facebook and , wasn't supposed to be out. It was just kind of supposed to be my own thing I'm doing by myself. But, uh, yeah, at least that's as that's all I knew when I was out there, it was just relishing. Like I'm doing this thing that I'm so excited about. I love being here and no one in the ultra running world knows anything about this. And I love every minute of it, little retrospect finding out like, oh, people were attacking me, but not really a big deal. It didn't steal people knowing about it or not knowing about it. It didn't steal like, I guess my feelings while I was out there. Um,

Dylan Bowman: That is pretty cool. I, I thought it was also funny that it seemed like Jason Shalar kind of blew up your spot on Instagram too.

Jim Walmsley: That

Dylan Bowman: Good too? Like he, he made the, made the announcement and uh, we,

Jim Walmsley: We went for a run. We had such good conversation. I get back and you just tweeted out about it. Like you going for a hard rock on this. I'm like, I haven't said anything about it. Yeah. And I meant to say more about it, but it goes back to just not feeling comfortable on social media and being lazy with it. And I didn't say anything about it and that's what it was. And basically Jason said everything about it that got out. And then John Menger did the rest

Dylan Bowman: I could totally see how that would be. Just so fun for you to sort of just be out there thinking that nobody has any idea what I'm doing and it could possibly turn into this absolutely legendary story. Of course it didn't materialize that way.

Jim Walmsley: The thoughts was never releasing the Strava data on it, especially if at all clicked and just like letting it be folklore and this and that. And then like every occasional like bar conversation you go like, oh yeah, Chicko did drama. And like you just put some people know it exists, but kinda it doesn't exist.

Dylan Bowman: Oh, that would be amazing. That would be amazing. I don't know. I think it goes back to what we talked about earlier about how sometimes it takes you a couple tries and I don't think anybody doubts that eventually you can put together, you know, the 21 hour, uh, type run on that course. And, uh,

Jim Walmsley: I was definitely way ahead of splits than I thought I'd be. And things were rolling really well. Um, yeah. Bit tries with things. Uh, I was really happy with how things felt

Dylan Bowman: Sweet. Well, I mean, for people who haven't seen it all linked to the, the video that you guys made and shout out to, to Tim Fricks for keeping a company in that, in that port pot, shout out to Jess for, uh, for driving three hours to pick you up in the middle of the night. Right.

Jim Walmsley: Right. I think you got, yeah, she got that call around like 10 30 of like, you gotta come pick us up and it's just like this. Yeah. That was it.

Dylan Bowman: Well, what a great story. What a great story. So let's talk about the, the, uh, golden trail championship in the, uh, Azore. Um, I had Rachel Drake on the podcast a couple of weeks ago. You guys both finished second top Americans. Um, what was your experience like there? I mean, it sounds like it was a little bit more, um, you know, a different type of race course than you anticipated. Were you happy with your performance and were you how'd you like the whole format and everything?

Jim Walmsley: The format worked a lot better than I think I thought it would. I thought so. They had, they tried to set it up kind of like a tour to France with, uh, sprint Jersey, a climb Jersey, a downhill Jersey, and then overall Jersey and stages too. So every stage had their own winners as well. And more times than not the people that won overall were winning the stage jerseys as well. But, um, there are a couple battles in there and like even, I think one day Remy thought he was just gonna sneak the uphill on the second day and like I was out front and I'm like, oh, I'm gonna catch Remy flatfooted. Cause Remy was like, oh yeah, I'm going for the uphills. Like definitely. And then the first day you're still feeling out and Remy's a good enough runner that like, is he gonna go for the overall and this and that.

Jim Walmsley: And he seemed to more, want to focus on the uphill than get caught with the overall stuff. I felt a little bit, two feet and two different buckets chasing a little bit of the overall overall and well, definitely the overall, but also wanting to dabble with some of the uphill stuff. Um, the guy Anders for the downhill stuff was absolutely insane. like he was minutes ahead of people in the downhill. Like no one was touching him on most days, but I think there was one day though, where there were like basically two downhills with one uphill in between. And he actually got beat on that one. Uh, but he was doing really well overall, too. He was maybe around 30th place overall. So with about 70 pros of varying degrees, uh, he was doing plenty fine. Um, and then the sprint guys were, there were a couple guys that like stopping and like catching their breath and then like full on gas, like so funny.

Jim Walmsley: That's so funny. But then the sprint sections would also be like sometimes through this really undulating, winding trail where like, I actually, I'm pretty sure I was one of the taller runners that you would've been even worse situation there were these trees just, and I think as part of like why my back was really tired after the race was just, I was bending over all the time trying to duck and it's weaving and stuff. And, uh, they threw that section in there a couple times. So, um, and one of them was on the sprint section, so yeah, it was kind of cool to see everybody, uh, doing specific efforts throughout the race. Um, yeah, Rachel Drake ran absolutely awesome. And it was kind of fun having a couple Americans being able to make it because, um, the way we kind of figured it out, I think max king was the first one to find the flight, but there was a direct flight from Boston to the AOR island really.

Jim Walmsley: So, so we didn't have to go through Europe at all. Um, and more or less like direct flight and, and the plane was almost empty too, because it's mostly just Portuguese people that live on the island. Um, the island, there was good protocols, I think with like, especially races I've seen and stuff, uh, random people can't come to the island and watch for one. Um, we as athletes were the most risky people there. Um, I think they had two cases on the island with 15, 10, 15,000 people that live on it. Mm-hmm so we weren't the most popular people on the island while we were there, but, uh, things felt really good about the pretesting pre travel. And then they tested everybody that showed up at the island. Um, so things felt confident there. And then most of the Americans were all hanging out and grabbing dinner, uh, for stuff.

Jim Walmsley: And then probably the coolest part about it was this was one of the races that kind of took how the, uh, golden tickets work for, for Western states and even like amplified it more and linked it into a virtual world. So taking the, the situation that the world's in throwing out segments, which a lot of people don't get to benefit from segments like me personally, I had a segment like 15 minutes away to go chase to qualify for this race. Yeah. But, um, they put segments all over the world, um, for people to try to go for. Uh, and then in addition, if you got the segment, they funded all of your airplane, travel your accommodations while you're there. Like so further than Western states where you still pay the what $475 for being the, uh, uh, M one next year. Like yeah. Uh, yeah, I think Western states needs to get a hard time for still making everyone pay. And, uh, but it's part of the old school part of ultra running that. Sure. True. I think it's also hilarious when you're introducing elite track runners or marathons into this world. It's like, yeah, you gotta pay. Like,

Dylan Bowman: I got my, I got my email from hard rock today saying, you know, it's time to cop up your three 50. I'm like, didn't I pay that a couple years ago.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah, exactly.

Dylan Bowman: Um, well, that's awesome. I mean, what about your performance? The, the guy who won the Polish athlete named Bart, I'm sure I'm saying that completely

Jim Walmsley: More or less goes by Bart. I think, think everybody leaves it at Bart,

Dylan Bowman: Dude. He, he seems like a real deal runner. Yeah. I mean, he he's obviously had some good performances in Europe. Um, where do you feel like he may have gotten the better at you? Was it just he had prepared better for the terrain or, or what was it?

Jim Walmsley: Um, well I think coming from Poland, uh, and especially looking at his winter running right now, like the guy is just a pig and shit on this course of like,

Dylan Bowman: Yeah.

Jim Walmsley: Okay. The mud, the off trail stuff, Bush whacking, like, uh, he was just so strong, especially in mud sections. Like he was just, I was not comfortable at all. Um, yeah, I did this race on two short notice, so I kind of just had the shoes in my closet at the time and like took him with me and would've brought, uh, I would've loved to have the Hoka jaws as an option that are like just the biggest talents that we have as a shoe for some of this stuff. Um, or a fresher pair of SPI Ebos. I was still wearing the spigot. Ebos that ID just run the hard rock thing in, I, I, because it, I just didn't plan ahead on doing this race. It was more about being opportunistic feeling that I was in pretty good shape and then wanting to just, uh, get a race in the calendar of not having a race and feeling rusty on stuff.

Jim Walmsley: So just lining up and getting those butterflies going. Um, I thought was pretty important as far as just the next time I line up and making sure I'm a little sharper than maybe someone else on the line. Totally. Um, but bar was really, really strong. And what I find is one of the most amazing stories about this is, um, some of the tears that were in the race are awesome trail runners. Yeah. Um, so, and like looking 'em up, so you look up like the, especially this was definitely hands down, like almost all som and athletes at the front, but, um, you look up track times like world athletics, you can pull up profiles of people that have track times and marathon times or road times, and none of, none of them show up for any sort of track or road, anything. Yeah. The orient tears have track times, you look 'em up on Instagram, they're doing track workouts and then you watch 'em during their orienter races and it's just off trail Bush whacking.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. And you just like go, and then you look at the course in ZOS and you're just like, oh gosh, we've just met in their world. Like we're gonna get clobbered. And like, they have, I mean, they're 29 minute 10 K guys that was Frederick from France. Like, and also just smoked this year as an now course, the open course, uh, to get an entry in like really legit and was really impressed Withers, I think, as going back to Bart, um, some of his stuff was he he's got good results. He's won the Solomon trail championships out in South Africa at the Otter trail race, I think, which is supposed to be a really technical trail. So I think when things get tough and things get technical, um, which this was a different type of technical than what we would see maybe in Europe. Um, cuz like you talked to Remy or Francesco was funny.

Jim Walmsley: He did not like the chorus, but you talked to several of the Europeans and they, they weren't happy about the quote unquote technical part of it. But one of the first questions I got when I was out there by, um, a guy making a video on it was just points a camera in my face. And just first questions, just like, Hey, June what's is your definition of a trail. And it was just like, you take a moment to think about it and you can't complain about anything. Like yeah, you can define almost everything as a trail and it doesn't matter. As long as it kind of got flags, like, Hey, it's game on, we're all racing it. And yeah, you definitely had to embrace that mentality during this race.

Dylan Bowman: Hell yeah. Well it was really cool. They did a good job of capturing everything and sharing it with, uh, fans around the world, myself included. And

Jim Walmsley: I think they're coming out with a video today or tomorrow. Okay, cool. Cause like that was my first time racing St yeah. As well. Um, who I thinks gonna be in the video and then the, the Moroccan like El Huen, I think, um, haven't raced them and especially El Husen, like definitely felt like he came outta nowhere and was like really strong, um, part of like them Frederick, uh, there's another orient here, Joey from Switzerland who like just smoked the, the two mile prologue the day before that has these super steep steps. And like, I'm like, dude, if you run too fast on this prologue for order on day one, like you're gonna be so sore. It was really, really steep steps. And uh, this guy just smoked it and you're just like, uhoh, we might be in trouble. And I think he just ran like 13 something for 5k the month before. Yeah. And he is an orienter guy and you're like, huh. But, uh, uh, I, I think their volume's a little lower, which is interesting.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. It's like when the Nordic ski guys go to Mount marathon and absolutely it that's so interesting what a fun, uh, fun, uh, thing to follow in the years to come and yeah, I'd love to see, um, the obviously art, you know, race at some of the, the longer, longer races, cuz he seems to be a, a really great athlete. He's a guy who won overall Jim finish second. So maybe one more question before we, we finish with a, like what's to come for you and I just wanna kind of get your opinion on like the state of the sport right now. Is there anything that you think is particularly good or anything that you think, um, needs to change to sort of launch us into the next generation?

Jim Walmsley: I mean a lot can change to make the sport grow. I think there's a big varying opinion of how or what to grow into. I think it's inevitable that the sport's gonna grow. Um, I think embracing it and professionalizing, it helps the top runners, how you do that with keeping the grassroots dirt bag ultra stuff and especially participants. And then you talk about anyone who's on a start line gets to race. Everybody is really unique about our sport. Um, yeah, it's a tricky balance. I don't think there's a perfect clear cut. Answer on it. Um, I, I think you'll start to see more series mm-hmm with professionalism. I mean, old trail world tour golden trail Western states is kind of its own little trail system or trail world as well with the golden, uh, ticket ticket. Um,

Dylan Bowman: Spartan, Ironman.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. Spartan's in it now. I think they're yet to make a bigger SPLA. I think they were supposed to make a bigger splash this year, but um,

Dylan Bowman: Bad timing

Jim Walmsley: Than, yeah. Bad timing with that. Um, I don't know. I think as a athlete, I, what was really fun about 2019 is I felt like I dabbled in all sorts of different series, which was kind of fun. I I think, uh, doing Western states, I did, did I do an ultra world tour race last year? I'm not sure. Um, yeah, actually don't know. I don't think I did. Yeah, but I've done those. Uh, did like a mountain cup world series is another one and right. Like what distance to do, what sort of terrain? Um, I think the sport is ultimately so diverse that in order to make anything professionalized, you'd have to get buy in on what distance, what terrain what's. Okay. And there's a lot of disagreement with that. So I think there's gonna be a constant battle of like how to unify anyone in it, because if you unify all the ultra trail world tour athletes, um, which there's not a lot of people that just do that because it's so expensive to do that series and yeah, there's not enough funding for athletes to travel that much without people getting, uh, having money or getting sponsorship money.

Jim Walmsley: I, I don't see athletes doing that at all. Um, just it it's too expensive, uh, from an athlete perspective, um, golden trail stuff with Solomon, they put a lot more funding into making travel and accommodations more fitting, but I think you also are at the mercy of where Solomon, what they'll pay for what races they'll do. I mean, it's their bubble. Um, yeah. And then, uh, mountain cup stuff. I don't think there's much funding. I, I don't know as much about that, but you're getting into sharper racing, more workouts, a little different style in general and not as much crossover into the ultra world. Um, yeah. So kind of just defining different parts of trail running as, as really fascinating in itself and how you unify any part of that or all of it even harder, um, is really different. I think mountain cup stuff, they want to start doing more and more with the I AAF and then that's eventually talking Olympic stuff or applying for Olympic stuff, which they would be into, but I'm not sure Olympics is really the right spirit for ultra running either.

Jim Walmsley: Um, I think it would take away a lot. Uh, obviously it's exciting and any one of us would love to compete to be a quote unquote Olympian, but also it just kind of back to our sport of like, who cares? Like we got our races and this is what we like doing and let's throw down here. And if that ends up being 24 hours on the track and sure. Or bigs backyard of like, well, I'm gonna go one more, are you gonna go one more? And it's a really interesting, uh, race set up that changes things up and yeah, it's hard to really, we have a direction on that diverse of a sport right now.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. I think it's gonna be really interesting to see how we emerge from this pandemic if we ever do, because I think few sports are set up to succeed as well. Yeah. Just by virtue of the fact that we're all socially distanced when we're, uh, racing naturally

Jim Walmsley: Race

Dylan Bowman: Sometimes of the race. Yeah. But also, yeah, the fact that it is so fragmented and that there is so little funding, um, that, yeah, it, it might be difficult to achieve any sort of, you know, growth velocity, but I think, yeah, Solomon does such a good job of telling the story of the sport, at least that, you know, that that whole golden trail model I think has, has legs and the people who will tell the story the best, I think will, will do the best at all those different series. So dude, you've spent so much time and I'm so appreciative of your time. This has been super fun just to talk shop for the last, what hour and a half or so. Uh, let's finish with just your standard kind of what's next for Jim. Wellsley both in the near term, in the long term.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. I think, uh, 20, 20, one's gonna be about getting my name on start lists and just kind of seeing what goes off what's logical, what's safe. Um, and just taking, like, showing, just trying to keep a good fitness going and, uh, and stuff

Dylan Bowman: In an ideal world. Do you, do you copy paste what was gonna be 2020 and go to comrades UT M B

Jim Walmsley: Exactly. That that would be, uh, first priority would be doing comrades, U T M B one of the big mixes in that is the rumors of comrades moving to September, um, which I've heard, heard from some people that's gonna happen and I've heard from other people that's absolutely not gonna happen. So, um, more or less, it might be good just to bank on a hard effort in June. Yeah. Um, that also puts me at, uh, I don't have a ticket for Western states, so, uh, I think I've, I'm on the wait list with a ton of other people for black canyon in February. Um, but also there's races that I've always wanted to do, whether it's Zaga or that, especially trans Volcan after Tim Farrick has had such a cool experience there with our little group of friends and other Americans just like speaking really high of that race. And then, but on a global stage, like what people say about Zaga is just magical. So yeah. But then it's a short chill race. That's like, oh man, you got we're, we're doing hill repeats now. Yeah.

Dylan Bowman: I don't think an American man has ever finished like anywhere close to the podium. It's Agama I could be wrong about that, but it seems that we seems we, we get embarrassed there quite often. I

Jim Walmsley: I'd love to do it. I think it, I think theor was some of the best experience I could have for his ZEMA, but, um, yeah. Yeah. You punch it up hill. It's a marathon. You punch it downhill. Remy's gotten that win obviously. Yeah. Uh, Killian's kind of the king of ZEMA. Um, but Stan's got the fastest time there and stuff and you kind of go like, well, Remy and now embraced a couple times and it's like, alright. It might like my odds there.

Dylan Bowman: I don't know if that race has ever gone off in anything other than just absolutely hideous weather. It seems like that's the theme. So are you saying that if, uh, if comrades doesn't happen, then your goal might be to get a golden ticket, go back to Western states?

Jim Walmsley: I, I think I'd at least like the option.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah. Okay. Um,

Jim Walmsley: Cause they, they have a wait list at Western states for a reason. I'm not trying to steal a spot or anything like that, but of course, yeah. I mean, I think right now you gonna gotta shrug your shoulders and just take advantage of what's out there.

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, totally.

Jim Walmsley: So, um, yeah, but then there's the Western states, UT M B double that has not been kind to me in the past and then even worse, I think. Are you doing UT M B next year?

Dylan Bowman: You think? No, I'm doing hard rock that's too close for me.

Jim Walmsley: France was on the hard rock. U T M B double train. I think Courtney Dew Walters on that too.

Dylan Bowman: She, I think she is too.

Jim Walmsley: Yeah. So it is just a beastly. I mean, it's a quicker turnaround. It's more similar, but Savier has had really good success running hard rock before races in UT MB killings had really good success. Um, I, I don't know. And I've heard Zavier swear by like the altitude training he gets at hard rock makes him even better out in shaman for that. But for me personally, I would think it would get me a lot more tired. Yeah.

Dylan Bowman: No way for me. Well, dude, I mean, obviously it's all up in the air and we're all kind of guessing at this point, but whatever you do next year, so excited to, to watch and so appreciative that you'd come on and spend time with us. I'm a big, big fan and uh, yeah, I'll be cheering for you in whatever's next in 2021.

Jim Walmsley: Thanks man. Thanks for having me. And uh, look forward to sharing a start in line with you soon. Heck

Dylan Bowman: Yeah, I hope so.

Dylan Bowman: What'd you guys think, I hope you did enjoy that one. Thank you so much to Jim Walmsley for coming on dropping his knowledge and sharing his experience over the course of an hour and a half super generous with this time. And we are so grateful if you guys don't mind, if you did enjoy the show, please do leave a rating and review on apple podcast. That is always something I do very much. Appreciate. You can gimme a shout out on social media. Send me a DM, always love hearing from you guys. And finally, as I said at the front of the show, please, don't miss next week's episode. We're gonna be making a big announcement and I really want you guys to hear about it. And uh, I really hope you join us on this journey. So we'll see you guys back here again in just a few days. Okay. Love you. Bye.

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