Peter Krasa is an unusual sort of runner. First, he says he’s never experienced a runner’s high. Second, he runs every single day and has been running every single day for – hold on to your butts – 23 years. Third, and the first bit of this will seem like a natural outcome of the previous revelation but the second bit is pretty distinct – Krasa is both fanatical and extremely chill about his running habit.
Krasa was born in the Czech Republic and moved with his family to Pebble Beach at the age of 9. After pursuing his higher education in the Bay Area, including a doctorate in leadership from the University of San Francisco, Krasa moved back “home” and spent his career working in education – as a principal at the Monterey Peninsula Unified School District and later at CSU Monterey Bay. By then he was a runner, so let’s rewind to how it all began. Because that’s unusual too.
By his own admission, Krasa was “really lazy” as a child and even into college at UC Berkeley. But that began to change one fateful day when he fell off a fire escape and broke both his heels. The doctors, Krasa says, told him he might never walk again. And suddenly, faced with a possible future of limited mobility, Krasa saw its value. “I realized what a gift the mobility was,” he says. “It’s a priceless gift to be able to jump out of the car, walk over somewhere… I’ve been very appreciative.” Krasa, now a 76-year-old Pebble Beach resident, spoke with the Weekly about how, and why, he runs.
Weekly: After a “lazy” start you’re now a marathon runner – you’ve run the Big Sur International Marathon 31 consecutive times. How did that begin?
It was the fourth year that the marathon was being held and I was reading about it, just out of interest, nothing caught me. But then one sentence did it. It said “buses will pick up stragglers.” And I thought, really? My goodness gracious. That’s a peak life adventure. I’ll just try it, nothing to lose. I managed to finish the marathon without a bus. And then I was hooked.
How and why did your 23-year running streak begin?
It started because when I would do these marathons… I wasn’t disciplined. You’re supposed to taper, the month or two months before a marathon. And so 60 days before a Big Sur Marathon I thought I’ll try this – I’ll run three miles a day and maybe four miles average and do it for 60 days up until the marathon. I did that and running the marathon was much easier for me. And then on the third year [of this training scheme] I thought, you know what, what if somehow I could feel good enough to run the day after the marathon? It’s a shame to leave the streak at 60 days. And so I did.
There’s a curse and a blessing of the streak. The curse is now the streak rules. If I don’t feel well, I don’t want to break the streak. If I’m injured, I don’t want to break the streak. The blessing is it’s a motivator. It has to end, obviously. I’m hoping that when it does end I’ll be in the position to recover from whatever made me break the streak, and then start a new streak.
How do you stay motivated to run every single day?
I am very surprised that I can run every day, and I’m even more surprised that I want to run. I make my own rules, so I can fragment the run. Let’s say I have some time and I can run two miles and then I have to do something else. It doesn’t have to be consecutive, it can be cumulative, as long as in a day’s time I get in four miles. I don’t have a plan, I don’t have a time, I’ll stop… I make it up as I go along.
Do you run with other people?
Oh, I run by myself. One time there was a fellow who said, “I want to run with you,” so I said OK. This is a person who had a regimen and a plan – if there were a day when he was to run 9 miles, it wouldn’t be 8.9 or 9.1. And, you know, he doesn’t stop. The day we chose happened to be a stormy day. And I was running through a golf course, and the snack bar was open, and I smelled soup. So I naturally gravitated toward that and I went inside and I was engrossed in that wonderful soup. And the guy [at the snack bar] points to this person running in place and says, “is he with you?” and I looked and I thought, “Oh my, I forgot about him.” That’s the last time he ever ran with me – I’m too unconventional.
Would you say that you enjoy running while you’re doing it?
Yes. To be able to go from place to place on my own locomotion… I’m very gratified by it. It’s gratefulness. To be able to use my own power to get from here to there, I’m very, very grateful.