21 Questions with Anton Krupicka
Speaking out on high mileage, injury lessons and the future of the sport
A short video featuring unseen bonus footage with Krupicka from Joel Wolpert's film, In the High Country.
Most readers are familiar with the bearded, wild-haired, typically shirtless, high-mileage runner from Boulder, Colorado, Tony Krupicka. After quickly gaining fame for back-to-back victories at Colorado’s Leadville Trail 100 (2006 and 2007), Krupicka also became known for his big weekly mileage, which would top out over 200 miles, minimalist shoe and gear preferences and disappointing injuries. Now 31, he’s back and healthy this season, with recent wins at the Lavaredo Trail 118K in Italy and Jemez Mountain 50-miler in New Mexico.
Anton Krupicka. Photo courtesy of New Balance.
Here, he took a few moments to answer some questions with us.
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1. What have you learned from your high-mileage training regimen?
It's not sustainable. I run far less than I did five or 10 years ago. I don't really keep track of miles anymore, but I haven't approached a 200-mile week in three or four years now. Now, during a peak training cycle I'm probably more in the 100- to 140-miles-per-week range, but with three or four times as much vertical as I was doing back when I was doing higher miles.
Having said that, I think chasing really high miles when I was younger was informative in that it taught me about my limits, hard work and what it means to be truly committed/obsessed. I think it was a good experience to have had; however, I’m not sure I would necessarily recommend it.
2. How has your training philosophy evolved?
I try to listen to my body more and not push through little niggles as much. Also, I generally focus more on vertical gain now instead of pure mileage. Of course, this all depends on what my goal race is, but in general I more interested in running races that emphasize vertical gain as well, so it all works out.
Ultimately, it might be counter-intuitive, but I think this is a more sustainable form of training as really steep uphills/scrambling are generally very low impact and switch up the muscle groups/movements from what are used in more conventional running on trails.
3. What have you learned from your bouts with injury?
It really depends. Obviously, that listening to and respecting your body is paramount. But, more than once, I have thought I was being smart/conservative and I've still been smacked down with a tenacious, frustrating injury. And that I have to cultivate other forms of spiritual/emotional nourishment in my life outside of the mountains and running.
4. What have you learned about eating and drinking before and during races and big runs?
This is something that I've fortunately never really had issues with and I really haven't changed much over the last eight years of running ultra distances. Beforehand, I just try to be casual and not really worry about my night-before-the-race meal. Everyone has certain foods they probably avoid, but honestly, I'm not too finicky about this. I try to think about races as just another long run in the mountains.
During a race, it's just water and GU for me. If my stomach starts feeling a little off, I minimize the gels for a while and drink Coke instead for my calories. Simple stuff, but it's been pretty effective. This year, I've even moved away from using so much supplementary salt during competition. As long as it's not too hot, it seems, my body is happiest with just the extra electrolytes that come in GUs.