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The Real Shovel, Fueling Training, and Race Nutrition

Check out this video from Jim Walmsley about his 2022 Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc (UTMB) race:



What I love in this video is that you can see the raw emotion, fatigue, sadness, and sense of failure he experienced over the course of a long day in the mountains racing to the limit. 

"This race wasn't what I hoped it would be... but the last 50k was maybe exactly what I needed to grow as an ultra athlete. Harnessing and leaning more into this idea of being completely screwed and working through it. That's where I see I can have the most growth in myself. ...where the true grit and the real shovel came out is when the bonk happened, the blowup happened, the win wasn't going to happen and it's like, 'well, we're still here for a job. We still gotta dig positives out of this, but I need to go through this right now. I'm here for this experience.' It's essentially a part of yourself that you're not going to find out much in training. It's really a race environment that provides a safety net that allows you to go that far."

Growth mindset, folks.


Getting enough nutrition down while running 100 miles was one of the biggest challenges for Jim, as you can see in the video.


Nutrition during Training

Nutrition during and after training comes up frequently with athletes and we talk about it a lot as coaches. It makes sense, as you don't train very well (or live) if you don't eat. It's also tricky because everyone is individual in their dietary needs. The diet of a 17-year-old male triathlete will NOT work for a 55-year-old female swimmer. It gets even more complicated when you remember that we are humans with individual taste preferences, sensitivities, and dietary choices we make. As coaches, one of the biggest issues we see is athletes simply not consuming enough DURING training. This is a common problem regardless of age or gender. It's also something we've experienced as athletes ourselves and have worked on to become better at.


Personally, I eat WAY more during training than I ever have in my life. The benefits I've seen are very real in terms of recovery and energy throughout the day. Energy is probably the single biggest side effect I've enjoyed. It's also had a positive impact on my bloodwork and hormone profile.


Fueling the Work

I attached a handy chart below that gives some good recommendations on how to get started with consuming carbohydrates during your workouts. Your coach can help you fine-tune this a bit if you need, and of course, we have Coach Krista, who works with some of our athletes individually. Krista can get very deep into the nitty gritty by prescribing specific amounts of carbohydrates for each session based off what she sees in TrainingPeaks.


Nutrition recommendation for training

Last year, I started using a brand called NEVERSECOND for all my training and race fueling. One of the co-founders is Asker Jeukendrup, a sports dietitian who developed the graphic above and whose work I'm a big fan of. If you're interested in knowing more, I'm happy to share how I use the product. They've also offered a discount code for Team Paragon athletes.


We also have Team Paragon discounts with Precision Hydration and The Feed. We recognize that each athlete is individual with their palate preferences and what works for their stomach. Our goal is to offer as many resources and options for you so that you can work with your coach and/or Krista to find a solution that supports your training and recovery needs.


But one thing we are all in agreement on: You have to FUEL THE WORK.


What that looks like is different for each individual but it has to be done.


And guess what!? Jim Walmsley returned to UTMB in September 2023, won the race, AND set a new course record!

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