Vlad Ixel on Running head on into a new life
One 25th birthday, a million thoughts of feeling stagnant and unhealthy, one idea to run a marathon, three days to prepare, one race completed, three weeks of pain, and a lifetime of change.
Before Vlad Ixel became the ultramarathon runner he is today, the earlier years of his young adulthood were ridden with endless hours of studying architecture, lots of pubs, clubs, and smoking cigarettes. While he loved the content of his architecture studies, he was lacking that sense of final accomplishment within each project, which he later came to find out was the reason for his partying lifestyle. This feeling of never quite getting the satisfaction he desired from these projects harvested an unhealthy state for his mental well-being and fostered feelings of being unaccomplished and unsatisfied with life. After his 25th birthday, Vlad realized that he needed to complete something and needed to do it now. He had just lived a quarter of a century and had little to show for it. With a three day notice, Vlad decided to run a marathon that changed the course of his life forever. Vlad recalls, “In the second half of the marathon, it felt like a lifetime of so many things that went through my mind.” He may have not been able to walk for the next three weeks, but it only took that first marathon to make him realize his potential and how mentally tough he could be if he focused his energy in the right direction. Over the next 8 years, he dedicated his life to improving his craft and has currently won over 40 ultramarathons.
“In the second half of the marathon, it felt like a lifetime of so many things that went through my mind.” – Vlad Ixel
Vlad’s first marathon is truly inspiring as it shows how far the human mind can truly push itself past the limits we place upon ourselves when it comes to what we think we are capable of. Running 26.2 miles is no small feat for anyone and Vlad completed it with very little training other than being athletic as a kid. This goes to show if you take one step at a time, visualize your end goal, and take action – you will eventually achieve what you thought you couldn’t.
Now Vlad’s whole life revolves around running. He often trains twice a day and stays motivated 7 days a week through coaching and using his knowledge to help others attain their goals. In order to adapt to his constant competitive lifestyle, Vlad tests himself with different goals centered around elements of control. For example, he will set goals to try to abstain from alcohol or coffee for weeks at a time. It may not seem like a huge feat, but Vlad believes that it can rewire and train your brain to leverage your abilities of control. He explains, “If I can say no to caffeine for 6 weeks, then I have the strength to say no to many other things that I want to do but know are not good for me. I’m building that strength with little things, to be able to do the biggest things that need to be done.” This method can be practiced, within healthy limits, in many cases when anyone is trying to improve their craft and practice control. With this control, you allow yourself to focus on improvement for periods of time while also having chances in life to enjoy other small things like coffee and balancing your lifestyle.
“If I can say no to caffeine for 6 weeks, then I have the strength to say no to many other things that I want to do but know are not good for me. I’m building that strength with little things, to be able to do the biggest things that need to be done.” – Vlad Ixel
A mindset where a person feels in control of their potential can give them the power and motivation to push themselves through the challenges they are facing each day. Vlad is an advocate for the idea of recognizing and sharing your acknowledgment of weaknesses with those you are close to. He believes a person must be aware of these weaknesses in order to begin overcoming them. Over time, putting in this work allows us to put ourselves on the right path to overcome our weaknesses.
“Take it one step at a time, one week at a time, and don’t give up too soon.” – Vlad Ixel
About 5 years ago, Vlad took a big risk and moved from Australia to Hong Kong, a hub for ultramarathons and competitive running, with no money and a diet primarily consisting of bread. By believing in himself and cultivating the right mindset, Vlad concentrated simply on doing the best he could. He was very resourceful when it came to navigating the process of entering as many races as possible with minimal funds. Vlad would sell the prizes and vouchers he won in previous races to fund his living expenses and his entry fee for the next race. One step at a time, he was able to build a name for himself, start coaching, and eventually that landed him a sponsorship with North Face. Vlad’s advice to others trying to figure out how to stay motivated and reach for their dreams is to keep believing in yourself. He also often refers back to his method of success: “Take it one step at a time, one week at a time, and don’t give up too soon.”
Improvement doesn’t happen overnight, you must get your foot in the door and keep working on your passion. Through control, believing in yourself, and taking it one step at a time people are able to morph themselves into doing much more than they originally thought they were capable of – just like Vlad did.
Thank you Vlad for sharing your motivating story! If you want to follow along with Vlad’s endeavors, check out his Instagram linked below.
Written by: Anna Rice & Jason Crowe
Interview by: Jason Crowe