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.

5 Ways A Second Language Boosts Your Creativity

Everybody knows how important it is to learn new languages. Your brain activity improves, the risk of getting dementia or Alzheimers decreases, new opportunities for career growth arise, traveling becomes easier and more fun. I could enumerate many more but we will focus on one crucial reason – creativity development. If we choose the skill that’s in the biggest demand in the world right now, creativity will definitely be the one.

So, what are the ways learning a second language can help you boost your creativity?

  1. Leave your comfort zone.

We all understand that new ideas arrive as soon as we start doing something unusual for us. I’m sure you heard phrases “think outside the box” and “get out of your comfort zone”. Why does our brain require new information and fresh circumstances for creative juices to start flowing? Well, tell me, do you like eating the same food every day for months? I can eat the same dish for a few days, but not more. Our creative brain also gets tired of the same food and will appreciate new challenges. Learning a new language will force you to leave your comfort zone. It’s something new and unusual, it’s challenging and fun!

     2. See the world differently.

If we want to develop creativity, it’s important to open our eyes to new things. When I started working on this skill, one of the tasks was to pay attention to the world around me. And that’s when an amazing thing happened – I started seeing details, noticing places that I have never seen before. Learning a second language teaches us to pay attention, discovers a totally new world for us. It gives us new eyes for structures that we’ve never used before in our native language.

     3. Learn about new cultures.

One of the ways to learn the language faster is to immerse yourself into the culture of your target language. Read about the traditions and the history of that particular nation. Travel to the countries where people speak the language you’re learning. Communicate with native speakers and try to learn about their culture as much as possible. All of this will not only help you master the language, but will also create new pathways in your brain and help develop creativity.

     4. Change the way you think.

When we’re in the process of learning a second language, we encounter a lot of new structures and words that make us think differently. I always encourage my students to start thinking in their target language. When they do that, it changes the way their brain works and the way they think. For our creativity to flourish we also need to learn how to think differently. Is it hard? I don’t think so. It’s just something we’re not used to.

     5. Use memory techniques.

Have you ever learnt new words in a second language? It can be pretty challenging. If you want to make this process easier and more fun, you will start using various memorisation techniques: finding associations, creating images, making up sentences and stories with them. All these and many other techniques involve our creative muscle. The more you use your creativity, the stronger it becomes. Just like with everything else – the more you practice, the better you get at it.

Let’s bring it all together. The conclusion is obvious: learning a new language will help you boost your creativity, develop your brain and achieve more in life. The next step is to decide what language to learn!

If you could learn any language in the world in three months, which language would you choose?

 

 

Overcome Fear

What is fear, really? “An unpleasant emotion caused by the threat of danger, pain, or harm.” It’s just an emotion, sometimes strong, sometimes not. Why are we so affected by it? Why do we let it rule our lives and tell us what to do and what not to do?

Fear can be very useful when we need to flee from danger. However, more often it paralyses us when what we really need is to act.

I have recently watched a movie called “Arrival”. It’s about the power of communication and the value of human contact and unity. What struck me the most is the behavior of a woman-scientist.  She was extremely scared, it was obvious, but it didn’t stop her from stepping forward and going into the unknown. As a result of her conquered fear she was able to save humanity from destruction.

In our life and business we face much simpler tasks and dangers. Nevertheless, it doesn’t mean that our fears have no power to cause destruction. The scale is smaller, of course, but the importance and the aftermath for each of us is huge sometimes.

Are you scared of a new job or a new position? Are you afraid to make that step and finally start a business? Are you horrified that she might say “no” if you ask her out? Overcome your fear and make that next step. Ask for a raise. Change the job. Start a company. Propose. Go on a journey. Take a course. Invest. Live. You’re worth it!

10 Ways to Feed Your Imagination

25744338382_d66a368856_kDo you think you have good imagination? I think you do. If you disagree, maybe, you just need to feed it more often. Give it some food every once in a while and it will pay you back with boosted creativity, unique ideas and spot on solutions.

I used to think I am not a creative person. Then several incredible books and videos changed my understanding of this notion. The problem was connected with my inability to use creative power and God-given imagination. Even though my rich imagination was always a source of entertainment for me, I didn’t connect it with creativity. It took me years to learn how to use it. What’s even more important, it took me too long to realize the huge value of our imagination. Its effect on our creative abilities, critical thinking, and decision making process can’t be overestimated.

So, let’s dive into 10 ways to feed our imagination.

1. Books

This is probably the most obvious one of all, that’s why it’s number one. When you read a book or listen to an audio-book, you can’t help but imagine what is going on. Your brain creates images and stores them in its supreme filing system. You will be able to retrieve those images when you need them.

First, I wanted to say, read fiction – it will feed your imagination more. However, there were lots of non-fiction, educational, spiritual and self-help books that gave me most useful ideas and inspired me incredibly.

2. Movies

Yes, I know. Movies and TV shows can be very addictive. They can throw you into the prison of wasting time, and the escape is not that easy. I’ve been in that prison and still get there once in a while. And nevertheless, watching movies and TV shows in moderation is good for us. Good quality films and serials are made by creative people who spent thousands of hours using their own imagination. I am sure we can learn from them, tap into their creativity and draw out a few ideas for ourselves.

3. Art

There is a variety of opportunities unfolding  in front of us when we think of art. You can be a spectator or a participant of art. Go to a dancing show or take dancing lessons. Attend a concert or learn how to play a musical instrument. Visit a museum or participate in a pottery master class. Musicals and plays, opera and architecture, exhibitions and galleries – all of this is the endless source of nourishment for our imagination.

4. Speeches

Have you heard of TED talks? In the last several years these short speeches have been my constant source of inspiration. Go to http://www.ted.com, and you will see: their mission is to spread ideas. It kind of speaks for itself, doesn’t it?

Do you have a favorite speaker? I have several and like to watch them on YouTube or TED regularly. There are two or three preachers whose sermons I especially enjoy, and who motivate me to grow spiritually. So, choose those speakers who inspire you the most. Find the way to watch their speeches on a regular basis and your imagination will never go hungry.

5. Educational events

Just like speeches and talk, educational events can boost our creativity and feed our brain new ideas. You can attend a conference, a seminar or a even a webinar. Go to a workshop,  a master class or participate in a convention. Usually such events give us an opportunity to meet new interesting people. You will hear speeches, learn new information, get a new experience and have a chance to interact with other creative individuals.

6. New Experiences

Several points on this list can be seen as new experiences. I am sure you are aware of our brain’s feature to develop connections between neurons when we learn something new. That’s how our intellectual abilities grow and our creativity flourishes. New researches show that our hippocampus even continues to create new cells into old age.

So, when will those new cells appear? The moment you experience something new. Another question: where can you get a new experience? Go to your friend’s party and meet new people. Take up a new hobby. Do something you have never done before. Try new food, travel to new places, jump with a parachute or go hiking. The sky is the limit.

7. Travel

I know I already mentioned travel before, but it’s so important that it deserves special attention. Seeing new countries, cities, and continents broadens our worldview, expands our horizons, develops our brain and, of course, feeds our imagination. Saint Augustine said: “The world is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page.” So, it’s time for you to open this book and start reading one page after another.

8. Walks in the nature

Do you live in the city or in the country? Are you stuck at the office all day? How often do you get in touch with the nature? There is SO much it can teach us! God’s creation is magnificent! The beauty of it is mesmerizing! Take a walk in the park, go to the nearest river or lake. Look around and allow yourself to relax. Your brain craves that so much. So, give it what it wants, because, oh man, you do owe it.

9. Time with friends

I can say without a doubt that my friends have always been my inspiration and the biggest gift of all. Of course, you can brainstorm with your friends and deliberately work on generating ideas together. However, you can even just spend time with them, talk, laugh, cry, and have fun.

Surround yourself with creative people and constantly learn from them. And since everybody is creative, you can just spend quality time with your friends. Pick their brain, ask them questions, discuss the topics you’re both interested in. Your imagination will thank you later.

10. Daydreaming

And finally, my favorite one. Oh, daydreaming… I used to think it was a huge waste of time and a sign of weakness. And, of course, it can become pretty addictive and kill our productivity, but it can also be very useful. Daydreaming for our imagination is like weight lifting for our body. It builds our creative muscle. It helps us create images in our brain that never existed in reality. That’s pure imagination, my friends.

Sometimes I create whole movies in my head visualizing myself in various desired situations. What a treat it is sometimes to go into that imagined world. What are the benefits if that, you will ask? Lots of them. It’s a workout for my brain and for my imagination. It helps me live through situations that I will have to go through in reality. It gives me more confidence in the real world. It boosts my creativity and inspires me to pursue my goals and dreams!

A little piece of advice – don’t ever get sucked into your own daydreaming. Be reasonable.

Bringing it all together

There is an enormous number of ways to feed your imagination. Get on with it. Don’t underestimate the value of it for your life and your professional career. Good luck!

How to Effectively Combine Work and Rest

If you’re an achiever like me, you will understand this obsessive need to always stay productive. We all know that relaxation and distraction are important for our brain. Although, a lot of us keep feeling guilty when we’re not doing something related to work or personal development.

So, there are solutions for people like us. We can combine rest and work. You might tell me it doesn’t work because we should completely focus whether on one thing or on another for them to be effective. And I will disagree. It’s pretty easy to do both things if your work doesn’t require a lot of thinking and your entertainment is not too distracting.

Here are a few ideas:
1. You are watching a movie with your friends, family or by yourself. You have seen this movie before or it’s so light that it doesn’t require a lot of attention to keep track. So, you find some work to do that also doesn’t require too much thought. It could be typing in some information, ironing, folding, cleaning your inbox, reorganizing your desktop or folders in your computer, editing pictures, etc.
2. You’re out with friends or family and have to wait for someone in the car or at the lobby – get a piece of paper and a pen or open your smartphone. But don’t go to Facebook or Instagram. This is the time for brainstorming ideas, writing to-do lists or making preliminary plans. You will have to review everything you’ve written later, but this will be a great start.
3. Are you flying internationally or waiting at the airport for your next flight? Reading is a great and a very productive way of spending this precious time. You can also write blogs or make notes for future projects if you’ve got a few hours of uninterrupted time. I am actually writing this on the plane from Minneapolis to Amsterdam.
4. There are a few applications for smartphones that I consider very useful. They can be entertaining as well as very helpful for our personal growth and development. My favorite ones are Lumosity and Elevate. You can use any game that helps learn a language or develop some skill. It’s fun and productive!
5. And the last one is really important because it requires a change of our mindset. When you’re watching a movie, traveling to another country, resting on a beach, eating at a restaurant, be always on the watch for ideas. They are all around you, you just need to open your eyes and be ready to see them. Keep record of all ideas that come to your mind even if they seem crazy or mundane. One day you might get back to them and find a genius one that you discarded before.

See? Our vacation time can be very productive and effective. Don’t waste your time in life, we haven’t got that much of it. Having said that I’ll add that it’s absolutely crucial to find some time for relaxation, distraction and unwinding. Our brain needs that to be able to function normally and generate ideas.

Enjoy all your weekends and vacation time, and learn how to put off work and just rest sometimes.

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.

What to Do At The Airport

img_0439Have you ever been stuck at the airport for more than 3 hours? When it’s only a 3-hour layover, it’s nothing. By the time you get from one terminal to another (or just from one part of the airport to another), go through the security check and find your gate, it could easily take 2 and a half hours.

Although, if you have to wait for 5 to 8 hours, it could get really boring.

Here’s what I usually do:
1. First, I need to find my gate and sort of understand the direction that I will have to go as soon as it’s time. It’s important to have an idea how long it will take me to get there from different parts of the airport.
2. Then, if I have more than 5 hours to kill, I like to find a nice comfortable place to sit or even lie down. In Amsterdam they have reclining chairs for that in different areas of the airport. It could be a bean bag chair or just a soft nice couch, or an armchair.
3. If I am really tired I try to take a nap but put my carry-on or my purse under my head, like a pillow. In this case nobody will steal it from you.
4. After resting for some time, it’s time to look around. I prefer to go to the book shop or a souvenir store. In a book shop you can just take a book and dive into at least a few pages. You don’t even have to buy a book, just kind of get an idea what you would want to read in the future. I usually download my books to my awesome little Kindle Paperwhite.
5. And all souvenir stores can tell you so much about the culture of the country you’re in, that it’s worth spending at least half an hour there.
6. And the last thing I like to do before actually going to my gate is find a nice inexpensive café and have tea or even a meal there. You can order something familiar or try authentic national food. I am usually not a big risk taker when it comes to food, so I often get a sandwich and a drink.
7. Of course, my favorite thing to do at the airport is read. It’s one of those few opportunities to dive into the book without feeling guilty because you need to get back to work. I read while sitting ata café, resting on a comfy chair or just waiting for my flight at the gate.

So, this is my routine. What do you usually do? Could you share some tips?