TAKING ON ULTRAMARATHONS AND TRAVELLING THE GLOBE.
Going far and wide across the world isn’t something new for Vlad. From moving places, he’s adapted to being on his feet and new surroundings; but what makes a man put his body through so much, to be one of the greatest athletes known to the world today?The North Face athlete is pretty much known as a legend to all you trail lovers, and a superhuman in the game of racing.
Globetrotting At Birth
It’s a wonder if anyone is born to say “Hey, I’m going to be the best runner the world has ever seen” and mold their lifestyle to be just that… it was 25 years into Vlad Ixel’slife before being more than that runner-next-door guy. Currently residing in Hong Kong, Vlad was born in the coastal city of Odessa, Ukraine on 25 June 1987 and moved to Haifa, Israel after his 4th birthday where Vlad was exposed to the outdoors and spent most of his time seeking activities that were to be considered fun. “Whatever the activity, what made it fun, or at any rate, worthwhile, was the competition” was his quote. One of his fondest childhood memories of Haifa were the long hikes though Israel’s hills, mountains, and nature trails with his father.
At 14, he moved to Perth, Australia. The isolating effect in a foreign country hadn’t fazed him to pick up a tennis racquet. He was rated among the State’s top juniors and ascended through the ranks. By 17, Vlad hung up his racquet following a few unsuccessful international tournaments. His 8-year hiatus from sports began there, with exceptions of the regular visits to the gym and sporadic soccer game, as life turned toward parties, travels and work.
You know how life hits you at a certain stage? Well he soon realized how much he hated the feeling of being lethargic and unhealthy, and there was an alternative lifestyle option being the Perth Marathon several weeks away.
“I was a student in Australia; normal teenager that smokes and drinks a lot, and one day I just got tired of being tired. I had no energy and was addicted to energy drinks. I got tired so I just signed up for a marathon.”
It was his first ever marathon he had done without training, but he came in 4th in his age category with the time of around 3 hours 16 minutes.
“In life, sometimes we would just do the things that we’re not ready for. There are situations in life that you’re not prepared for but you just got to get it done. So that was what I was thinking. I know it’s going to hurt but I did my best to make it to the finish line. That was my only goal; wasn’t to win or to make a placing but I set myself a simple goal of finishing what I started.”
On Road, Off Road
You’d either be feeling envious or inspired at this point – to know that someone can complete an achievement like this. His motivation to finish is
“I’m just too competitive and I don’t like losing. Sometimes I’m fine with losing just cause’ it motivates me to train harder.”
5 weeks later, he did another! Like most runners, he felt like no matter where he travelled for races and road runs they are all the same.
“So I went to Google and searched for the toughest running race in the world and it came up a 250km race in Atacama Desert in Chile, which was self-supported so you carry everything on your own. I signed up for that and that’s how I got into trail running.”
What?! 250km?! Is that even possible??What would drive them to such a difficult challenge? Coming straight from the pro’s mouth, the trick is to not think about the distance but instead think about getting from point to point. Break down the run by setting an achievable destination rather than counting how much further you have to go. “Well it’s a time for myself. We all have a lot of things on our plates, so getting out onto the trails is a good meditation time.”
Vlad even shares his advice on how to be prepared for endurance racing by stating “You got to spend time on your feet. If you want to get into ultra-running or anything over a marathon, you HAVE to spend a bit of time on your feet. Even if you’re out there spending 6 or 8 hours for hike, you got to get used to being on your feet. Eventually your feet will get stronger.”
“To be a good runner, it’s not just about running. Running is a small part of it. It’s recovery, it’s your sleep, it’s your diet, it’s your strength work, and it’s your balance work. So there are a lot of things to remember. As you run longer and longer, the things that you do outside of your training makes a big difference. So concentrate on your recovery, concentrate on sleep, concentrate on your diet…”