We caught up with The North Face Global Athlete Team Member Rob Krar and here’s what he had to say about all things Ultra-Running.
TGN: Rob, we’d like to start off by saying thank you for stepping into the Spotlight and sharing your story with our readers. So tell us, what is your main discipline or sport that you participate in?
Rob: I am an Ultra-Runner.
TGN: When you’re racing, at what class do you compete?
Rob: I race at the professional level.
TGN: That’s amazing. Our readers would love to know what part of the country you live in?
Rob: Flagstaff, AZ USA.
TGN: That’s some beautiful country to run in. It seems like there is a big running movement going on in Arizona and you’re right in the middle of it.
TGN: So Rob, our readers our curious what it’s like to compete as an Ultra-Runner at the pro level.
Rob: Intense. Frightening. Satisfying.
TGN: Wow, those three words sum it up pretty well. What made you decide to be an Ultra-Runner and how has it affected your life?
Rob: I’ve been running off and on for most of my life but my introduction to Ultra-Running began on a whim late in 2012. I was planning on running a 25km race but at the last moment opted for the longer 50km distance. The race went well and I immediately fell for the longer distances and haven’t looked back since.
TGN: That’s great. It’s funny how things just work out sometimes. Tell us, what are your biggest goals and aspirations for this season? Any long term goals?
Rob: My biggest goal of the season was to win Western States. It was a very personal and long term goal I set for myself exactly a year earlier after finishing a close 2nd to the great Timothy Olson.
TGN: That’s an amazing goal and battling Timothy for a second place finish is an amazing achievement in it’s own. So do you follow any strict training plans to help you perform at peak level on race day?
Rob: When I begin a focused training block heading into a race I’ll have a general idea of what I need to do and how I’ll go about it in order to toe the line fully prepared. However, my day to day training is very fluid and I rarely plan more than a few days out. I’m constantly adjusting my schedule based on the needs of my body and mind.
TGN: Well it sounds like you’ve figured out what works for you. Tell us, what is your biggest accomplishment as an Ultra-Runner or the scariest?
Rob: My biggest accomplishment as an Ultra-Runner has been believing and embracing a new training philosophy that has allowed me to train and race consistently as the happiest and healthiest runner I’ve ever been. My scariest moments as an Ultra-Runner have been during some of my training runs in the Grand Canyon. Although I’ve had some of my greatest runs below the rim, the Canyon is a foreboding place and I’ve had some of my most desperate experiences deep within the Canyon.
TGN: That’s amazing, normally we get a tick list of races won but that is a very genuine answer, it seems to be proven effective that’s for sure. The Canyon is a beautiful place but can turn on you fast, we’d be interested to hear more about some of these desperate experiences. Sounds like the topic for a whole other interview.
TGN: Often as endurance athletes we find ourselves relying on a vast array of gear, what are some of the necessities you use to compete as a Professional Ultra-Runner?
Rob: I’m fortunate to be a very minimal runner in a very minimal sport. My essentials are few but include the obvious: lightweight, breathable and fast drying socks, shorts and tops. Other pieces of gear you often see me with include: GPS watch, hat, arm warmers, gloves, headlamp, a water bottle and nutrition products.
TGN: Minimal indeed but a lot of those are definitely necessities. When you rely on your gear so often for results you tend to become partial to certain brands or styles of gear. What are some of your favorites and why?
Rob: The Better Than Naked series of clothing by The North Face are my go to gear year round. I don’t think there is any gear that can compete with it. I began using SUUNTO as my GPS of choice and it’s been a great improvement from the GPS units I’ve used in the past. I recently ran my first 100-miler (Run Rabbit Run) where I was guaranteed to be running through the night and the Petzl NAO headlamp guided my way. It’s really a step ahead of any other headlight out there and its brightness and battery life blew me away as it replaced an aged 8-year old headlamp. The technology has really come along in that department.
TGN: We’ve heard great things about the Better Than Naked Series and we love our SUUNTO watches. If you had to pick just one piece of gear, your one go to item to have with you on race day, what would it be and why?
Rob: The North Face Better Than Naked Split Shorts 3.5″. The pocket placement on these shorts is nothing short of perfect for Ultra-Running. Two smaller pockets on the right side for gels and Gin Gins, a larger pocket on the left side for chews and other larger items, and a larger pocket in the back with a zipper I use for trash. Brilliant.
TGN: Nutrition is a very important factor when it comes to performance, what types of nutritional products do you use regularly?
Rob: Nutrition is hugely important in my everyday life, in my training, and of course my racing. I believe strongly in a balanced diet without deprivation. Although they may not be nutrition products, coffee and beer are the perfect bookends to a solid. Coffee is a part of my morning ritual and beer is a satisfying way to wind down the day. If I’m not pressing my coffee at home you’ll find me at Flag Buzz enjoying one of their amazing Fair Trade blends.
Flora Health has a great nutritional product line I utilize every day. A couple I use include their liquid iron product called Floradix, a probiotic and a liquid calcium/magnesium blend. We also use many of their oils in our everyday cooking. Finally I use a tablespoon of their 7 Sources oil once a day, whether its on my cereal, in a shake, or straight up.
In training and racing I use both Clif and GU gels and chews and regularly mix their chocolate protein powders into shakes after longer runs and harder efforts. I always have Gin Gins tucked in my pockets during my races as they come in handy to settle my stomach during the later miles.
TGN: Wow, sounds like you really have your nutrition dialed in and have some great companies backing you on your adventures. So if you could have a Rob Krar Pro model and design your own product what piece of gear would you choose?
Rob: I’d have Wanderlust Brewing Company craft a custom tailored fall/winter beer. I imagine an unfiltered wheat with hints of cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. Maybe a drawing of me fly fishing the Colorado river on the label to boot.
TGN: Rob Krar craft beer? Oh count us in, make sure you send a few sixers our way if that ever happens. Sounds delicious!
TGN: You’ve had an amazing season so far this year, what other races do you plan on attending this season?
Rob: Races thus far have included the Lake Sonoma 50 Miler, Western States 100 Miler, Leadville 100 Miler, and Run Rabbit Run 100 Miler. I’ll finish the season off at The North Face Endurance Challenge Championships in San Francisco in December.
TGN: That’s a pretty amazing list you’ve accumulated this season, and your win at Run Rabbit Run was impressive. Are there any races that are above your radar that you’d like to compete in?
Rob: I really enjoy experiencing new races and hope to make it across the pond in 2015 to satisfy that hunger. UTMB is at the top of that list.
TGN: Now that you’re in the spotlight, what words of advice do you have for our readers?
Rob: My introduction to the Ultra-Running community has been amazing. I’ve felt more welcomed and comfortable within this niche of running than I’ve ever felt before. I’d encourage everyone to explore the community. The North Face Endurance events are a great way to do so with distances varying from 5k’s to 50 miles. Training wise, progress slowly but steadily towards the longer distances and always remember to respect rest and recovery as a priority during your training.
TGN: That is great advice, thank you for those words of wisdom and thank you for sitting down with us and letting us pick your brain. Congratulations on an amazing season. We wish you the best of luck in TNF Championships and on all your other endeavors.
You can stay up to date on Rob and his racing career by following him on Twitter.
See you on the trails!