Tim Tollefson’s Perfectionism Is Paying Off At the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run

This Hoka athlete is currently at the top of his game. Here's how Tollefson is approaching the race of his life. 

Photo: Ryan Thrower

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If you were to aggregate the Western States 100 Mile predictions for who might win this year’s race, Hoka athlete Tim Tollefson is consistently near the top of the charts. More importantly, though, his hair product is nothing special—just Old Spice pomade.

From Mammoth Lakes, California, 37-year-old Tollefson is as fit as he’s ever been, despite the hype and media spotlight.

“In the past, it got to me probably more negatively than positively,” he said. “I would read everything, watch everything, look for my name. My ego and insecurity drove that. I recognized that it was unhealthy and not benefiting my interests.”

Tim Tollefson (M5 bib) on the Western States start line on June 25, 2022. (Photo: Ryan Thrower )

One tactic to improve his focus and priorities was to cut out the noise. “This year, I haven’t been on social media for a month, and I haven’t read anything online. It’s been really refreshing and liberating to focus on what matters: my family, myself, my running. Because that’s what’s going to get me a good day out there. Not what you write about me.”


“When things are going well, you’re in the flow. You don’t have to think. It just happens. When it’s shit, then it’s like: get your bucket and start scooping.”


“I mean I have contractual obligations. I had to schedule some posts…I know eventually there’s a balance that I can find in there at the moment. That’s what I need to do. Just, like, check out.”

So, what does the interior world of someone who’s gunning for the win look like at Mile 43?

“A lot of doubt. This is insurmountable. Things aren’t going well. It’s a long way to go. It comes in full narratives, like I’m finishing the story before it’s been finished. It’s been something I’ve worked on unpacking to get around that. Recognizing that this moment is impermanent. It won’t last forever.”

Tim Tollefson coming through Robinson Flat (Mile 30.3) in the top 5. (Photo: Ryan Thrower )

“I’ve been running for a long time, but this is all stuff I’ve developed tools from personal therapy. I visualize perfect days, perfect workouts, perfect efforts. And then, when you encounter the struggle—which is inevitable—I start visualizing the poor stuff. Now I visualize the perfect everything. There’s an addiction to perfection.”

Smart, consistent training. Minimizing the noise. Visualization. All pieces are integral to Tim’s approach to race day.

“More importantly, I’ve started to visualize when things go poorly,” Tim said, “like how you’re going to get out once you’re low. I think that’s more important and will serve you better. When things are going well, you’re in the flow. You don’t have to think. It just happens. When it’s shit, then it’s like: get your bucket and start scooping.”

Trail Runner will be sending live updates on Instagram and Twitter throughout the course of the race, June 25-26, 2022. 

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