Kílian Jornet, one of the world’s greatest trail, mountain and ultra-distance runners, and a world-class ski mountaineer, recently joined Strava, and is sharing his racing, training and record-breaking with the Strava Community. In 2015 he is promising to take Strava to new heights… we chatted with Kílian to find out more about his passions, philosophy and plans.
For many in the Strava community you and your achievements will need no introduction, but you’re difficult to categorise! How would you introduce yourself to someone learning about your sporting career for the first time?
I don’t like tags and categories, but I will say I’m someone who loves mountains and to move in the mountains. So I run in the mountains in the summer, over every distance, from vertical kilometers to races of 100 miles or more. And in the winter I do ski mountaineering.
Can you describe the mountains where you grew up and how you started along the path that has taken you to where you are today?
I was born in Cap del Rec, a mountain hut at 2,000m in the Catalan Pyrenees. My parents are passionate about mountaineering and so as soon as I could walk we started climbing summits and doing traverses every holiday and weekend. It made me love the mountains.
Where do you live and train now? What has been the most amazing or inspiring place your career as a professional sportsman has taken you?
I’m a nomad really. I spend most of the time around Chamonix in the Alps and in northern Norway, but I spend a lot of time on the west coast of the US, all around Europe in the mountains, the Himalayas… I’m really lucky to run and ski in all these places. The most beautiful is always the one I will see tomorrow.
Who are the heroes who have inspired you to push beyond the limits of what people previously thought was possible?
Alpinists like Reinhold Messner, Walter Bonatti, Ueli Steck, Steve House, athletes as [Keninensa] Bekele, [Haile] Gebrselassie… but also the many unknown people that I have been climbing with when I was young, learning from them every day. People who don’t appear in the media but influence me.
The world is your playground: how do you choose your challenges?
The list is always growing. When I climb a summit, there are many mountains and valleys behind it, and I want to go there. There are so many places on the world, the difficulty is choosing!
How would you characterise your relationship to the landscape when you’re training or competing? Do you feel like you’re in competition with the mountains, in harmony or something else?
Competing is a bit different: in short races and ski races, it’s difficult to look around the landscape. On long distances or in training, it is important to run because you enjoy it. I run because I want to explore, to see more landscapes…
How is it different for you competing in, say, ultramarathon races, in ski mountaineering or against records?
It’s completely different every discipline: Ultramarathons are more about endurance and running skills; ski mountaineering about explosivity and ski technique; and mountain records are more about altitude, alpine skills and endurance.
You compete in several different sports and in a wide range of distances — is there anything you can explain about training to be so versatile and ready for any challenge?
I don’t train specifically for something. I like to be on the mountains every day, and then sometimes I run more fast, some days slower but longer… and I race a lot, around 50 races per year, so the specific training is more during the races.
You have your personal projects, including your films, Summits of my Life… what can you tell us about your goals for 2015?
2015 will be a interesting year. We start with Aconcagua in December, and then the ski mountaineering World Cup and World Championships in Verbier, some classic [ski-mountaineering] races such as Pierra Menta and the Trofeo Mezzalama before I go to the Himalayas for the first attempt on Everest.
For Strava runners looking to step up to ultra-level events, or even to take on their first marathon, do you have any advice?
Go from step to step: don’t try to do a 100 miles directly, but do first a mountain marathon, then, when you feel comfortable, a 50 mile… and also to train on mountains when they can: descents and how to place your feet need very specific techniques.
Follow Kilian on