“There are two American runners in town! You have to come meet them.” Living in northern Spain means that I don’t meet a lot of fellow Americans, and when a couple do show up, my Spanish friends let me know.
I had heard that Jim Walmsley had been in town the year before and had made quite the impression, so I wanted to meet him and fellow Cowboy, Cody Reed, for myself. My running buddy, Gaspar, and I tracked them down a couple nights before a big race.
We walked up to the bar and, reminiscent of the old John Wayne movies, asked, “How many Cowboys are here?”
In two days, Jim would go on to win the Alto Sil race in the mountains near my home for the second time. Before he did, Jim, Cody and I talked about their perspective on US runners in the European races, training as the Coconino Cowboys, and who whines the most while out training.
Q. What is the most striking thing about running in Europe?
A. Cody: I think how similar the running is and how it brings people together. We are of the same breed.
Jim: There is much more orienteering. If there were no flags you would be lost. Also, the running is smoother in the US and less technical.
Q. What is your greatest fear while running over here in Europe?
A. Cody: It is really no different here than in the US. It is fun trying to get by with the little Spanish that I know.
Jim: You don’t know as much about your competitors. You don’t know if you should chase that guy or not. You don’t know if he will drop. It is tough not knowing what a smart move is. You have to guess if someone is making a calculated move and you should match it or not.
Q. How do different countries run?
A. Spain and France and Italy blow everyone away. They take trail running seriously.
Q. Have you been able to train to compete against the technical abilities of the Europeans?
A. Jim: I have been training and feel much more comfortable. You have to trust yourself more. I need to be careful and know myself.
Cody: Our base speed is faster than others around the track. But our base speed should be slower to conserve energy. You feel thrashed. But everyone else is trashed as well.
Q. What is it like training in a group like the Cowboys?
A. Jim: Cody ticks me off. He is the worst.
Cody: There is a unique dynamic because we are all hitting our peak at different times.
Q. Who whines the most among the Cowboys?
A. Jim: Me. I complain about everything.
Q. What don’t people know about you?
A. Jim: Life is about balancing stress. You have to find the balance. Most of the guys are working other jobs. Students, coach, working as a store manager. Most of us do work full time. Whether you have a job or no job it’s how you manage it.
There are plenty of successful runners with full time jobs. In trail running the mentality is the most important.
For me, I’m a really good sleeper. I also do the most volume. In order to do so I keep everything else in life simple and boring. I don’t stress in other ways. It comes down to a lot of perspective…and ignorance.
First published on RunUltra