Elite runners are often pegged at being great at a certain distance. For example, we all know that Eliud Kipchoge (marathon world record holder – 2:01:39) is a great marathon runner. And the same could be said for the great Haile Gebrselassie of 2:03:59 marathon fame.
But look a little closer, and you’ll see something amazing. These guys are incredibly versatile: they are masters of all distances. Take Kipchoge for example. The guy has run 3:33 for 1,500 meters, 7:27 for 3,000 meters, and 12:46 for the 5,000!
Gebrselassie has a similar stellar record book. He’s gone 3:33 for 1,500 meters, 7:25 for 3,000 and an astonishing 12:39.36 for 5,000.
The point is, these fellows have tremendous talent at a great range of distances. You can’t peg them down to just one event.
But here’s a guy who took takes the word “range” to a whole other level. As a senior at Horizon High School in Scottsdale, Arizona in 2007, Jim Walmsley was Arizona’s Division 5A-II cross country state champion. That year he won every race he ran in and was named Runner of the Year. As a collegiate runner competing for the Air Force Academy, Walmsley ran 13:52 for the 5,000 and 29:08 for 10,000.
Pretty darn good. But where does Jim’s range come in?
Well, how about setting an event record in our own back yard, winning the Bandera 100K in seven hours, 46 minutes and 37 seconds in 2016. And just a few months ago in June, he nailed the big one, setting the record at the 2019 Western States 100 through the rugged mountains of central Western California in 14 hours, nine minutes and 28 seconds? Now we all know that ultra-runners aren’t supposed to be fast at standard distances, right? Wrong! Earlier in 2019 Walmsley posted a 1:04 clocking at the Aramco Houston Half Marathon. Are you starting to see some “range” here?
So the question is, how does a runner like this train?
Walmsley’s training log prior to his 1:04 in Houston includes workouts like two times two-miles at 4:50 and 4:52 pace followed by eight miles at 6:30 pace, and then two more mile repeats in 5:00 and 4:54. To prepare for Western States, Walmsley, 29, pulled out all the stops, at one point running back-to-back 140-mile weeks. The first week had 22,000 feet of elevation gain and the second 14,000 feet. At the time, he was also running 20-mile runs with other elites at around 6:00 per mile pace. Oh yeah, and that was at altitude.
Needless to say, the guy is a prodigious work-horse. He doesn’t have any special diet, and loves pizza and beer like the rest of us. So what can we learn from this runner?
Maybe it’s his racing philosophy (or lack of it). In an interview with REI.com, Walmsley, who lives in Flagstaff, AZ, told the sports outfitters, “Don’t overthink it. In college, I focused too much on having a routine and getting into a habit. If you do that, and some race you can’t do exactly what you want ahead of time, you start mentally freaking out. “So I try not to have a routine, or to have a different routine before every race. That in itself has almost become a routine.”
Upcoming races: Sunday, September 29 at 9:00 a.m., the 9/11 Heroes Run 5K at Camp Mabry. Saturday, October 12, at 8:00 a.m., the Good Life Taylor 5K, at Bull Branch Park in Taylor (Lynn and Davis St.).