How to Become a Marathoner

TUK_2301Have you ever wondered if running a marathon or at least a 10K is for you? I want to assure you – yes it is. If you think you can’t do it, I have good news for you, my friend. Anybody can do it with enough motivation and training.

Almost 6 years ago my friend encouraged me to run a marathon. “No way!”, I said to him then. Little did I know that one year later he would be meeting me at the finish line of my first marathon in rainy Venice.

So, what do you need to run your first marathon? I will share 5 most important points with you. In the same way, you can apply them to a half-marathon or any other race. As a matter of fact, it’s much wiser to start with an easier race than 26 miles. So, let’s dive in.

1. Motivation

If you’ve ever tried to accomplish anything without motivation, you know how hard it may be. You could force yourself, but it won’t last long. Eventually, you will say to yourself – enough, I’m done with this. Motivation is what keeps us going. It’s like fuel for a car or power for a computer.

Find your motivation. Would you like to lose weight and feel more confident about the way you look? Or maybe, you have been running for years, and now you feel like it’s time to take it to another level? Perhaps, you’re like me, and you need an upcoming race to motivate you to run every day. Whatever it is that drives you, use it for your benefit. Take advantage of it and let it motivate you to start preparing for your first marathon.

Strangely enough, but my decision to run that first marathon was motivated by the desire to show my boyfriend that I can. I was also desperately trying to connect with him and running was our common interest. Paradoxically, we broke up two days after the race, but I am still thankful to him for inspiring me to run a marathon. It was an incredible experience and honestly, it got me addicted. There’s nothing like the feeling of crossing the finish line and hearing the cheer of hundreds of people you don’t even know!!!

2. A race planned

Frankly speaking, I am not a very disciplined person. I always strive to be one, but it doesn’t come easy. So, getting myself out of bed and out of the apartment to go for a run is a constant struggle. There’s one huge motivation that helps me get into running clothes and get out of the door – a future marathon or a half-marathon.

My friend Debbie and I love traveling to different cities and countries to run races. It’s our way of seeing the world and experience new cultures. Moreover, it’s a great motivator for me – if we have a race scheduled, I know I have to train for it.

LGC_5132Therefore, after you got your motivation to become a marathoner, you need to plan a race. First of all, check if there’s one nearby. Probably, there’s a marathon or a half coming up in your own city. Otherwise, look through possibilities to travel within your country or even abroad. Believe me, it’s going to be a fascinating adventure for you and those you’ll be traveling with.

 3. Training for a race

As soon as you have a race scheduled, it’s time to start training for it. There are lots of different training plans for beginners. If you can’t find anything decent, message me, and I will send you the plan I was using for many years. It’s doable even for those who don’t like to run much, but would love to finish a marathon.

Training for a race is extremely important even if you don’t care about the result, but only hope to finish. Your legs and your whole body are most likely not used to such extreme challenge. You need to train your muscles, your core and your legs so that on the race day you can endure pain and fatigue.

Don’t try to run without preparation. You might be able to accomplish it, but the consequences will show themselves much later.

4. Clothes

When I first started running, I didn’t think much about clothes. I grabbed the first thing that looked like it was for fitness, put it on and went out. Later, when my milage started growing, I realised how crucial it was to wear the right shoes and the right clothes.

For instance, if you run in a cotton T-shirt or shorts made of natural fabric, you might have bloody wounds on your skin after 40-60 min of running. It turns out to avoid chafing you should run in clothes made of wicking material. It will absorb moisture and won’t rub your skin creating sores.

Similarly, you should be careful with what type of running shoes you’re wearing. A lot of people try minimalist shoes nowadays. I am a big fan of my 4 mm heel drop shoes – they are light, easy to run in and have helped me avoid injury for 5 years already. There’s so much to talk about when it comes to clothes and shoes. So, I might write a separate blog just about that. The story of my experiment with “barefoot” running is worth telling.

5. Food

When you’re preparing for a race, it’s very important to watch what you eat. First and foremost, fat, greasy food should be avoided. It’s bad for us even if we’re not going to run a marathon. Next, you need to make sure you have a balanced diet – protein, unsaturated fats, carbohydrates, necessary minerals and vitamins.

TUK_2108Also, when your race day is approaching, it’s important to train your body to eat the same food before the long run. In this case you will know what to expect when you have the same meal the evening before your marathon. Usually people try to eat carbs (pasta, not greasy pizza) the evening before and something light in the morning. A piece of white bread with jam or honey and a banana for breakfast have worked miracles for me.

Another thing to remember is fuelling during your marathon. If you’re going to run a 5K or a 10K, even a half-marathon, you might be ok without any food during the race. However, if you plan to run 26 miles (42 km), it’s important to have special energy gels or bars along with you. Don’t forget to try them during your training. Your body should be used to them and not surprise you with sudden cramps at the race.

Bringing it all together

In conclusion, running a marathon is an incredible adventure that is totally worth our efforts. When you cross the finish line, the feeling of relief, accomplishment and personal victory will be a great reward for everything that you have to endure.

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7 Best Winter Activities

“Winter is coming!” – this is the phrase they have been saying in Games of Thrones for 5 seasons and finally “Winter is here!” Well, it’s been here for more than a month already, but I got to write this post only now.

Winter is one of my favorite seasons. Other favorites are spring and summer, but winter is probably the most fun. Christmas and New Year is in winter, my birthday is in winter, and skiing is in winter!

So, let’s start the list:

  1. The very first and most fun activity for me is downhill skiing. Do you like freedom and elegance? Put on a pair of skis and prepare to fly! The excitement of speed and the elegance of flight is what attracts me in this sport.
  2. Some of you will argue with me and say that snowboarding is better. I would just say, it’s also fun but it’s different. Tastes differ, so if you prefer snowboarding, go for it!
  3. In the previous post I talked about running in cold weather. Believe me, it’s much more fun than you might think. It’s challenging and refreshing, and the feeling after the run is incomparable!
  4. Do you like ice-skating? I love it! This is another activity that is beautiful and elegant. It’s like dancing on ice, what can be more graceful?
  5. If you have hills in your town, go sledging with your child or with your friends. I don’t think there’s any age limit for that even though it’s considered for children. We’re all kids in our own way.
  6. Are you fond of fishing? If yes, then it’s the best time for you to go ice-fishing. This is one thing I could never understand, but I know a lot of people love it.
  7. And if you are not that much into outdoors, you can just curl up on a couch with a great book and a cup of hot chocolate. Isn’t that one of the best things about winter? Another variation of this would be a good movie with friends or even by yourself.

The most important aspect of all these activities is that you enjoy them. If it’s not fun, it’s not worth it. Life is full of amazing wonderful moments, and we should cherish each one of them.

7 Rules for Running In Cold Weather

7679767b-f6c7-4e0e-b557-8c8b2b5eba37If you’re interested in running, I bet you also like to do that in different places of the world and in the variety of weather. It makes it more exciting, challenging and unique. One of the best things about traveling is that you get to run in all these wonderful countries, cities and states that can be pretty diverse and absolutely fascinating!

Recently, I had a chance to travel from cold Ukraine to warm and sunny Arizona and then five days later to snowy Minnesota. It’s an incredible experience to be able to run in just a T-shirt and then almost right away to have to put on tons of cloths and endure minus 15 F which is minus 26 C.

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So, here are some tips for those who don’t want to wait for spring and are ready to run in cold weather. And when I say “cold”, I mean below zero whether in C or in F.

  1. First of all, make sure you don’t dress too warmly. A lot of people think that because it’s cold they have to put on warm jackets or a lot of sweaters underneath. Big mistake! You will start running and very soon it will be unbearable. You’ll get too hot and too uncomfortable.
  2. It’s better to put on layers, and nothing should be too warm. Pick a base layer, a fleece and a running jacket or another very light kind of jacket.
  3. If you’ve always been wearing tights for running, make sure you have special ones for winter or be ready to put on shorts underneath or on top of them. Another choice would be to put on sweat pants on top of your tights. When the temperature is below freezing, your legs might get too cold especially if the wind is strong.
  4. I assume everybody knows it’s important to wear gloves, although if the temperature is below -10 F, you might want to wear two pairs of gloves.
  5. The same goes for a hat. A few days ago I ran in only one hat and got extremely cold. Of course it was about -17 F or -28 C with windchill. It felt like my head was going to explode. So, don’t forget to put on two hats and two pairs of gloves.
  6. I always wear a buff around my neck and usually pull it up on my nose when running in a freezing cold weather. Although, a few days ago it was not enough anymore. I had to also put on a scarf which made quite a bit of a difference.
  7. A lot of times when it’s this cold, the sun rays are extremely bright. So, a pair of sunglasses would be a must. The combination of sun and snow have the potential to burn the surface of our eyes, causing a temporary but painful condition known as photokeratitis.

One more additional rule would be to put on extra lotion on your face before getting out of the door. Last week I made a mistake of forgetting to do that. The result was horrendous – my face got covered with red spots because of extremely cold wind and for two days I looked like I had just eaten tons of chocolate.

So, if you are not afraid of challenges and love to test your level of endurance, if you’re a strong personality ready to take it to another level, try this amazing experience of running in cold weather. It’s usually incredibly beautiful when it’s this cold! You will love it! And I am sure, you’ll feel really good about yourself afterwards.

10 Most Alluring Destinations

Some people think that traveling is a luxury for those who have time and money. I disagree! Traveling is a necessity for those who strive for personal growth and development. Would you like to be an interesting conversationalist? Are you a person with big dreams and goals? Broaden your worldview while traveling. Make a list of 10 most fascinating destinations for you. Here’s my list to help you get started. There are some places that I have visited already, and others that are still in my plans.

New York City25-sm

This is probably my favorite city in the world ever since I visited it in April. All my favorite movies and shows were shot there: You’ve Got Mail, Sleepless in Seattle, Hitch, Friends, etc. Next year I’m applying for New York City marathon and hope to get in!

Paris

This city is definitely a symbol of love and romance for me. It’s not a problem to go there, but I have no desire to do that by myself or with friends. As soon as my future husband gets into the picture, we will experience all the beauty of Paris together.

Rome

Italy is definitely one of my favorite countries. I visited it once and was only in the northern part, but I still remember the happy feeling that accompanied me every day while walking down the narrow streets of beautiful towns.

New Zealandau093954

One of my dreams is to visit all The Lord Of The Rings locations. My friends went to New Zealand on their wedding anniversary in 2006, and they can’t stop talking about it ever since. Now, it’s their favorite place in the whole world.

China

Recently, I have started to teach English to the Chinese students. These are wonderful smart, hardworking people with tender hearts. They made me fall in love with their country before I even went there. The book “Wild Swans” helped in that process too.

Israel8181813788_7c84646e84_z

In 2011 my whole organization got a gift – a trip to Israel with the best tour guide in the world, Bryan Widbin. We saw the places where Jesus walked with his disciples, had his last supper, was arrested and then questioned. This trip was like nothing I’ve ever done in my life, and I continue being drawn to this country.

Africa

I know I should be more specific but it’s so hard to choose just one country in Africa. One of my dreams is to run the Big Five marathon. It’s a tempting challenge to run among the wildlife in South Africa with zebras, giraffes and antelopes and even through lion country.

Austria25807395561_75506d3692_z

I adore downhill skiing. In the last several years I haven’t done a lot of it, but before we used to go to Austria for a week every year to ski in the Alps. It’s magnificently beautiful there! Besides, if you’re addicted to skiing, the mountains will never give up on you and will keep calling you back home.

Japan

It’s a very intriguing country to me – different from any other place I’ve been to or heard about. It allures me by the level of technology development and the beauty of its nature.

Peru14709298014_4495454fa2_z

 

There are several challenging marathons in the world that attract me by the level of their difficulty. The Inca trail marathon to Machu Picchu is one of them. People say it’s incredibly hard, which makes it even more tempting for me.

Now it’s your turn – what places in the world allure you the most? Which destinations would you have on your list?

 

 

 

 

What Keeps You Going?

Do you have a mantra that you repeat in different challenging situations to motivate yourself? For example, in running and in business I use the same mantra – one foot in front of another, one step at a time, one foot in front of another, one step at a time.

When I get too tired and want to quit running, that’s what helps me continue. When the business is tough, too much work and too many unanswered questions – that’s what I say to myself. One step at a time, just keep going!

What’s your mantra? In what situations do you use it? Please, share in the comments.

 

Still Hate Your Failures? Time to Stop

The thought of the day – Life is wonderful if your expectations are low. Sometimes we set such high expectations that our life can’t meet them even if it trys very hard. We should definitely go for our best goals but be always open to any result, good or bad, because life is an unpredictable thing.

Today we didn’t PR in our marathon – it means we didn’t set our personal record. It frustrated us a lot, but then later, we tried to figure what we did wrong and what could be the lessons for our next marathons. I think it’s the best way to overcome your failure – learn from it and move on.

What is your reaction to failure? Does it deplete you off energy or motivates you to improve?

Workaholics Unanimous

My friend and I are marathon runners and right now we’re in Germany getting ready to run the Frankfurt marathon tomorrow morning. Usually we try to save our legs and not walk around too much the day before the race. When today we were sitting at the hotel lobbie waiting for my friend’s husband, she suddenly said: “It feels so weird to just sit like this doing nothing, not working on anything.”

Usually every moment of our lives is scheduled, every day is full of events and meetings, classes and tasks. Isn’t it sad? We even feel a little guilty if we don’t do anything productive for 5 minutes.

Today we had no choice because we’re in a foreign country and the routine is totally different. It felt strange but at the same time wonderful to just relax and not think about our everyday to-do lists.

So, tell me, are you proud to be a workaholic? Do you ever feel like bragging about it concealing it with false humility? A lot of times people say: “I am such a workaholic, i  should really do something about it. I have no time for…” You can fill in the blanks. In reality we are a bit proud of that but in fact we should feel sorry for ourselves. That is a miserable life when you have no time for a cup of coffee with friends.

Today we made a decision to always try and deliberately plan our down time. The goal of it is to give our brain a rest and let it recharge. The big purpose of it is to live a full life and not a miserable existence of a workaholic.