A year after finishing a close second, Rob Krar won the 2014 Western States 100 on June 28 in 14:53:20.
Setting a new fastest known time (FKT) for the 42-mile double-crossing of the Grand Canyon (6:21:47) was a rock solid start to Rob Krar’s 2013 season. The Canadian-born pharmacist, who took up ultrarunning in 2012, went on to earn impressive finishes, including second place at the Western States 100-Mile Endurance Run in California, as well as commanding wins at the late-September Ultra Race of Champions 100K in Colorado and The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-mile championships held near San Francisco in early December. But adding “ultrarunner” to his résumé has been a lifestyle adjustment.
“During work weeks, I check out of the social scene, which has its pros,” Krar says. “Work, sleep, train, eat, work, repeat—having a set schedule is good for my training and suits my personality.”
Krar, who works seven night shifts in a row as a retail pharmacist—from Wednesday to Wednesday—has an inflexible work schedule. He’s been at the job for nine years, so he’s obviously found a way to make it work.
“I basically have 26 weeks off a year, but I have to plan my race schedule around my work schedule,” says Krar, which prompts him to make every race a focus race. “I don’t do races for ‘fun’ and I won’t race if I don’t feel prepared.”
Krar doesn’t significantly cut back on miles when he’s working and spends long nights on his feet. As a result, he’s learned to build in relaxing “horizontal time” to help with recovery. “I’m trying to get runs in earlier so I have time to recover, even an extra half hour is good,” Krar says. “Getting horizontal gives my body a little more time to rest.”
Always a competitive athlete, Krar was a runner (on the track team at Butler University, placing 27th in the 2007 Boston Marathon in 2:25:44 and a three-time winner of the TransRockies six-day stage race in Colorado) and a triathlete (twice representing Canada at the world championships) before becoming an ultra trail hound.
His new, more balanced approach came after taking two years off from running to recover from injuries and surgery. Krar confesses to “not being a model of positivity” post-surgery and credits his wife with introducing him to the more mindful activities of fly-fishing and climbing. He also took up ski mountaineering, his secret to staying in shape during the off-season.
Now that he’s got the 2014 Western States title in the bag, Krar plans to defend his 2013 championship at The North Face Endurance Challenge 50-Mile Championships in December.
The secret to his success at ultra-distance running? “As long as I treat my body well—rest, do lots of stretching and eat healthy: greens and beans, no meat—my body is accepting longer races,” he says.
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“On the trail, I’m pretty easy. I like GU gels, especially the new Salted Caramel flavor! I also eat Clif Shot Bloks—the shape, size and package all make for easy eating on the go.”
“The most important thing is getting calories back in you as quickly as possible. I make a post-run smoothie in my Vitamix. Ingredients depend upon what’s around and what I feel like, but may include bananas, a chocolate recovery powder (GU, Hammer or Clif), Udo’s Oil, walnuts, chia seeds, yogurt and soy milk.”
“I’m still learning my mantra and every race has been unique. But I think patience is really important. I remind myself that I’m out for a long day and even if I have multiple low points, I can still have the run of my life.”
“My staple workout is running in Buffalo Park in Flagstaff, Ariz. It has a 2-mile loop at the base of the mountains, with rolling crushed gravel trails and one steep hill. I do 2-mile repeats, 1-mile repeats, 2 x 2 miles, all sorts of combinations. It has a good setting and a good energy.”