What Ultrarunner Jim Walmsley Can Teach Us About Performance

In a sport plagued by career-ending injuries, somehow Walmsley hasn’t been hurt once during his phenomenal stretch of success

Jim Walmsley crossing the Rucky Chucky river at the 2016 Western States 100. (Myke Hermsmeyer)
Ultrarunning

When Walmsley toes the starting line of June’s Western States 100 in Squaw Valley, Califor­nia, it will be the culmination of a year’s worth of 100-mile training weeks on the rugged terrain outside his Flagstaff, Arizona, home. In that time, the 27-year-old has also set course records at six of the seven races he’s run and shattered the fastest known time on the 42-mile rim-to-rim-to-rim route of the Grand Canyon (5:55:20). Yet, in a sport plagued by career-ending injuries, somehow Walmsley hasn’t been hurt once during his phenomenal stretch of success. 

I drink a recovery beverage within 30 minutes after running—as soon as possible. I’m replenishing, rehydrating, and getting my sugars, salts, and protein back in. Usually, it’s a Clif recovery drink, but honestly a soda is better than nothing.”
 
Sleep and water are my two biggest performance boosters.”

“After big races, I go straight into shuffle mode: two to four miles at a nine-to-­thirteen-minute-mile pace—on flat roads in my squishiest Hokas. I give myself at least three days of shuffling, and then, if I’m still feeling like I need time off, I’ll take it.”
 
“I eat donuts, cookies, ice cream, and pizza. You have to keep that furnace burning. Whole foods are your best friend, but if you’re craving fatty, starchy foods and you’re putting in the work, listen to those urges. It’s OK to carry a few extra pounds when you’re really training—that’s fuel.”

“If you have an injury, find something you can do that will allow you to not take days off—a body in motion is more likely to stay healthy.”
 
“I don’t have a warm-up routine, but I do dynamic stretches. I bounce, twist, jump, and then head out the door. Nothing too rigorous. But people make fun of me for it.”

“I change up my shoes all the time. I run in trail shoes, flats, road shoes, and Hokas. If I wear one pair too much, I get irritations, my Achilles gets overworked, my feet start hurting. Varying your shoes keeps your body adaptable.” 
 
“There’s a lot of luck to staying healthy. There’s no perfect approach. There’s no 100 percent or ‘always this.’ ”

Your body is going to win eventually if you keep pushing, pushing, pushing.”

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