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4 Ways Extreme Races Change Your View

4 Ways Extreme Races Change Your View

In America, an exploding trend in recent years has been the emergence of extreme races. Running the gamut from actual ultra endurance races, such as The Barkley Marathons (a race which only 10 people have ever finished in its near 40-year existence) to fun and gimmicky team-based races, such as RAGNAR (in which a team of 12 runs from one city to another — for instance, 196 miles from Madison to Chicago), a plethora of races have emerged for runners of all types.

Each of these races has something unique to offer, and each can change your view — should you be willing to participate. Here at Lifehack, we have compiled a list of the ways these races change the participants. Trust us, it’s usually for the better.

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You transform your life in order to participate in some of them.

Last October, I traveled from Chicago to Louisville to support a close friend as he competed in the Iron Man Triathlon. For me, it was an amazing experience of reconnecting with a friend who I had lost touch with. For him, it was the culmination of years of hard work — all of which was spurred by the admission of his girlfriend of three years that she had been cheating on him. This was part of his journey of recovering from that devastating admission.

During the race, he was in constant motion for 13 hours straight. That he ran the marathon section of the race faster than most people complete the Chicago Marathon itself wasn’t the point. The point was trying to get better in whatever way possible.

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You learn each of your team members’ styles and journeys.

Races like RAGNAR, in which each member of a team of 12 takes three legs of a 200-mile journey, or Tough Mudder, a 10-mile, dirty obstacle course slog, cannot be completed alone. Both require relying on team members, regardless of their style. So, if you’re a sprinter who takes down miles at a sub-seven-minute pace and your teammate is someone who just plods along at a pace approaching double that, you have to learn that whatever way the job gets done and the distance gets conquered is absolutely fine, as long as it gets done.

You spend a ton of time alone with your thoughts.

Regardless of your need to rely on team members in some of these races, the vast majority of time spent participating in them is spent entirely alone, with your body on autopilot and your mind wandering.

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While running, you might think of new ways to approach an old problem, you might tell yourself stories, you might have an epiphany about making a major life change. The common thread is that, regardless of what crosses your mind while running these extreme races, those thoughts purely come from you and nothing else, in a way that is not explainable to non-runners.

You see and hear some amazing stories of accomplishment.

Have you ever seen someone in a wheelchair fly through the finish line at the end of a 200-mile race, the crowd gathered around the finish line, flipping the switch from supportive mob to wild frenzy as they see the finisher approaching?

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Have you ever been in the middle of nowhere, jogging on some backcountry road, only to slow down and chat with a middle-aged woman, your competitor in every sense, to find out that she is part of a team of middle-aged women who decided at age 50 to participate in as many of these extreme events as possible?

Have you ever seen a service member, fully dressed in the fatigues of the Army or Marines or Air Force or whatever, come across the finish line of a marathon while carrying a devastatingly heavy military rucksack, and wondered if he’s running for his own sense of accomplishment or if he’s running for, with, or from the ghosts of his friends who didn’t make it home?

These stories, these visuals, happen every day in these crazy races, and if you haven’t seen any of them yet, you are missing out. They will motivate you, inspire you, change you in ways that you would never expect.

Featured photo credit: Rev Dills/Flickr via flickr.com

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12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

12 Best Brain Foods that Improve Memory

Nutrition plays a vital role in brain function and staying sharp into the golden years. Personally, my husband is going through medical school, which is like a daily mental marathon. Like any good wife, I am always looking for things that will boost his memory fortitude so he does his best in school.

But you don’t have to be a med student to appreciate better brainiac brilliance. If you combine certain foods with good hydration, proper sleep and exercise, you may just rival Einstein and have a great memory in no time.

I’m going to reveal the list of foods coming out of the kitchen that can improve your memory and make you smarter.

Here are 12 best brain foods that improve memory:

1. Nuts

The American Journal of Epidemiology published a study linking higher intakes of vitamin E with the prevention on cognitive decline.[1]

Nuts like walnuts and almonds (along with other great foods like avocados) are a great source of vitamin E.

Cashews and sunflower seeds also contain an amino acid that reduces stress by boosting serotonin levels.

Walnuts even resemble the brain, just in case you forget the correlation, and are a great source of omega 3 fatty acids, which also improve your mental magnitude.

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2. Blueberries

Shown in studies at Tuffs University to benefit both short-term memory and coordination, blueberries pack quite a punch in a tiny blue package.[2]

When compared to other fruits and veggies, blueberries were found to have the highest amount of antioxidants (especially flavonoids), but strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries are also full of brain benefits.

3. Tomatoes

Tomatoes are packed full of the antioxidant lycopene, which has shown to help protect against free-radical damage most notably seen in dementia patients.

4. Broccoli

While all green veggies are important and rich in antioxidants and vitamin C, broccoli is a superfood even among these healthy choices.

Since your brain uses so much fuel (it’s only 3% of your body weight but uses up to 17% of your energy), it is more vulnerable to free-radical damage and antioxidants help eliminate this threat.

Broccoli is packed full of antioxidants, is well-known as a powerful cancer fighter and is also full of vitamin K, which is known to enhance cognitive function.

5. Foods Rich in Essential Fatty Acids

Your brain is the fattest organ (not counting the skin) in the human body, and is composed of 60% fat. That means that your brain needs essential fatty acids like DHA and EPA to repair and build up synapses associated with memory.

The body does not naturally produce essential fatty acids so we must get them in our diet.

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Eggs, flax, and oily fish like salmon, sardines, mackerel and herring are great natural sources of these powerful fatty acids. Eggs also contain choline, which is a necessary building block for the neurotransmitter acetylcholine, to help you recall information and concentrate.

6. Soy

Soy, along with many other whole foods mentioned here, are full of proteins that trigger neurotransmitters associated with memory.

Soy protein isolate is a concentrated form of the protein that can be found in powder, liquid, or supplement form.

Soy is valuable for improving memory and mental flexibility, so pour soy milk over your cereal and enjoy the benefits.

7. Dark chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, the darker the better. Try to aim for at least 70% cocoa. This yummy desert is rich in flavanol antioxidants which increase blood flow to the brain and shield brain cells from aging.

Take a look at this article if you want to know more benefits of dark chocolate:

15 Surprising and Science-Backed Health Effects of Dark Chocolate

8. Foods Rich in Vitamins: B vitamins, Folic Acid, Iron

Some great foods to obtain brain-boosting B vitamins, folic acid and iron are kale, chard, spinach and other dark leafy greens.

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B6, B12 and folic acid can reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood. Homocysteine increases are found in patients with cognitive impairment like Alzheimer’s, and high risk of stroke.

Studies showed when a group of elderly patients with mild cognitive impairment were given high doses of B6, B12, and folic acid, there was significant reduction in brain shrinkage compared to a similar placebo group.[3]

Other sources of B vitamins are liver, eggs, soybeans, lentils and green beans. Iron also helps accelerate brain function by carrying oxygen. If your brain doesn’t get enough oxygen, it can slow down and people can experience difficulty concentrating, diminished intellect, and a shorter attention span.

To get more iron in your diet, eat lean meats, beans, and iron-fortified cereals. Vitamin C helps in iron absorption, so don’t forget the fruits!

9. Foods Rich in Zinc

Zinc has constantly demonstrated its importance as a powerful nutrient in memory building and thinking. This mineral regulates communications between neurons and the hippocampus.

Zinc is deposited within nerve cells, with the highest concentrations found in the hippocampus, the part of the brain responsible for higher learning function and memory.

Some great sources of zinc are pumpkin seeds, liver, nuts, and peas.

10. Gingko biloba

This herb has been utilized for centuries in eastern culture and is best known for its memory boosting brawn.

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It can increase blood flow in the brain by dilating vessels, increasing oxygen supply and removing free radicals.

However, don’t expect results overnight: this may take a few weeks to build up in your system before you see improvements.

11. Green and black tea

Studies have shown that both green and black tea prevent the breakdown of acetylcholine—a key chemical involved in memory and lacking in Alzheimer’s patients.

Both teas appear to have the same affect on Alzheimer’s disease as many drugs utilized to combat the illness, but green tea wins out as its affects last a full week versus black tea which only lasts the day.

Find out more about green tea here:

11 Health Benefits of Green Tea (+ How to Drink It for Maximum Benefits)

12. Sage and Rosemary

Both of these powerful herbs have been shown to increase memory and mental clarity, and alleviate mental fatigue in studies.

Try to enjoy these savory herbs in your favorite dishes.

When it comes to mental magnitude, eating smart can really make you smarter. Try to implement more of these readily available nutrients and see just how brainy you can be!

Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

Reference

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