What is your running background, and how did you fall in love ultra running?
My running adventure started 12 years ago. However, I will start from the beginning. I was a vivacious child from a very young age, and sports was a fantastic place. I practised almost every sports discipline, athletics, volleyball, football or basketball.
During my studies at the Academy of Physical Education, I fulfilled myself by playing football professionally in a first-league club. I was also a member of the Poland National football team. My adventure with football ended when I decided to join the army.
Then came running. I had to discharge my energy somewhere, haha! It’s easier for me to function if I am active because sport is my passion, it gives me joy and willingness to live.
Initially, I ran for myself, my health, and my well-being. When I felt that I was starting to become addicted to running, I decided to test myself in competitions. These were mainly 10k road runs, half marathons or marathons.
In 2015, during my holidays in the Polish mountains, I came across a mountain run and signed up immediately. It was my first mountain run, and immediately I came second place. However, this was not the most beautiful thing, but how much this run gave me joy, it was love at first sight.
I fell in love with mountain running that day, running in the mountains became my home.
I understand you were the eleventh woman in last year’s UTMB and are currently training for the Madeira Island Ultra Trail. What other races are you particularly proud of?
Yes, I was the eleventh woman at UTMB! I am thrilled and proud that I covered this distance in good time with a smile on my face, without major crises and ailments!
Altra Lone Peak and Olympus shoes definitely contributed to this, which worked out perfectly on this route. I am currently focusing on preparing for MIUT to fulfil my next running dream. It’s hard to choose one race I’m proud of because every run gives me a lot of happiness and satisfaction!
I have very pleasant memories of my visit to the Dolomites on the Lavaredo Ultra Trail 120k. It was my first overseas run, and it was super magical. The Dolomites are beautiful, and the trails are perfect for runners. The atmosphere during the run and in Cortina itself is excellent. It was thanks to this that I finished in sixth place.
Another race worth mentioning was the Salomon Ultra-Trail Hungary 110k. The run starts in a small, charming Hungarian town and leads along forest paths and nearby hills, which, although low, are pretty demanding and give you a hard time, but this is the beauty of this run.
Great organisation! Everyone lives for this event and you can feel from the organisers that they love mountain running. In addition to overseas runs, I would like to mention Polish ultra runs, which are lovely and organised with a great human passion for running and the mountains.
I could name many of them, like Bieg Ultra Grania Tatr, Tatra Fest, Łemkowyna ULTRA TRAIL, Piekło Czantoria, Salamandra Ultra Trail, Ultra Babia Góra, European Festival of Mountain Running, Krynica Zdrój Running Festival, Gorce Ultra Trail. You should come to Poland, you won’t be disappointed!
Altra sponsors you. What shoes do you wear, and why do you love them?
Yes, Altra sponsors me, and I’m thrilled with this collaboration because I’m a massive fan of their shoes, and it’s a great honour for me to be in their team!
I really like their shoes. Since I discovered it, I can’t imagine running any other way. It was another love at first sight! I have to thank my first trainer, who recommended the Altra brand.
Mountain running, as we know, takes place under challenging conditions, so the shoe must be appropriate to meet the runner’s expectations during many hours on the running paths. For me, the most important are footwear’s weight, fit, comfort and naturalness.
Altra has it all. The shoes are light, fit the foot correctly and, most importantly, the foot naturally works while running due to the shoes’ construction. By focusing on the running technique, Altra allows you to control every movement and stride.
Moreover, Altra is the first shoe that protects my nails from damage, which wasn’t the case with other brands. I love all the Altra models.
So far, I have covered the most km in Altra Lone peak, Superior and Olympus. However, I have been testing Altra Timp, Mount Blanc and Via Olympus for some time, and they are equally comfortable.
What sort of training do you do? Do you have a schedule? A Coach?
I have been working with a professional trainer for only a year. Until now, I was my own coach. It’s nice to have its advantages, only I know my body and so what is best for me at a given moment.
However, to make progress, you need someone’s perspective, which is why I decided to hire a trainer. I don’t regret it because I can see a significant improvement in the quality and effectiveness of my running.
In addition to running, I devote many hours to cycling, thanks to which I build endurance and focus on functional training at the gym or home. A good runner must be able to feel their own body, so we cannot forget about mobility, stability and general strength training.
What is your nutrition like both in training and on race day? Do you use gels, natural food or a mixture of both?
I have been on a vegetarian diet for a long time, and it is serving me well. I have arranged nutrition via a nutritionist and stick to this schedule during training days and competitions.
During workouts up to 2h, I try not to use gels, only natural carbohydrates. If I plan to run longer, I use gels, though I must always have a sandwich with cheese, haha!
At the competition, I must use proven gels and isotonic. In addition, I use the food offered by the competition organisers and the food provided by my support team.
Why do you think it is important for other women to see amazing female athletes like yourself complete such complex ultra events?
It is vital because other women see that, for example, mountain ultra marathons are not only for men and that each of us can prove our strength. Moreover, the exploits of such women show others that the impossible does not exist. It is enough to do something with passion and joy, and you can achieve anything, even run 100, 150 km or more in the mountains.
Do you want to inspire more women to get out and try ultra-distance running? How can events get more women to sign up and get out there?
Of course, I would love to be an inspiration to other women. I am a person who loves to infect others with my energy and passion for running. It gives me great joy, so I don’t need help to motivate myself to exercise or be active.
However, I know that most people do not have the strength to start their adventure with running, which is why people who are crazy about running, like me, can help such people, for example, by organising joint running.
It’s always more accessible in a group. It’s also nice to show such people the positives of running, especially in the mountains. It’s a good idea to take such people for a run together and cover the distance together.
Specialists have said that women may be more tuned for long-distance running. Are you excited to see more women joining you in races and becoming as fast, if not faster, than some of their male counterparts?
The more of us, the better! Women can compete with men on long distances because we can train endurance much better.
Of course, speed will always be on men’s side, but endurance is considered a woman’s game. It’s nice to see women racing as equals against the opposite sex. I think it adds charm to ultra running.
Ultra running is one of the few sports disciplines in which women can compete with men, and it’s great because we have yet to determine who will win and whether it will be a woman! I’m happy when I see that women are going towards ultra running.
Paulina Krawczak is sponsored by Altra
A Cumbrian vet who ran for an astonishing 82 hours in the Alps has been shortlisted for a Woman of...
American Courtney Dauwalter and Romanian Raul Butaci have emerged as the winners of The North Face Transgrancanaria Classic event, the...
Told with disarming honesty and heart-breaking vulnerability, There Is No Wall is Allie Bailey’s story of her rollercoaster journey through...
Stepping outside into the brisk autumnal air, you can usually find Victoria Thompson spending her free moments open water swimming,...
Having run for several years, when her 50th birthday came around, Jayne decided she wanted to do something special to...
In good British fashion, the rain formed sheets of grey, hammering against the determined racers who trenched forward through the...