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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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Last Updated on November 11, 2019

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

How to Improve Memory and Boost Your Brainpower

Have you ever noticed that some people are able to effortlessly remember even the most mundane details and quickly comprehend new things? Well, you can too!

To unlock the full potential of your brain, you need to keep it active and acute. Wasting time on your couch watching mindless television shows or scrolling through facebook is not going to help.

Besides getting out flashcards, what can you do to help remember things better and learn new things more quickly? Check out these 10 effective ways on how to improve memory:

1. Exercise and Get Your Body Moving

Exercising doesn’t just exercise the body, it also helps to exercise your brain. Obesity and the myriad of diseases that eventually set in as a result of being overweight can cause serious harm to the brain.

Furthermore, without regular exercise, plaque starts to build up in your arteries, and your blood vessels begin to lose the ability to effectively pump blood. Plaque buildup leads to heart attacks and it also reduces the amount of oxygen and nutrients that your blood carries to your brain. When the nutrients don’t make it there, the brain’s ability to function is compromised.

To prevent this from happening, make sure you get moving every day. Even if it’s just a brisk walk, it’ll help you maintain and increase your mental acuity. Brisk walking, swimming and dancing are all excellent activities. Take a look at these 5 Ways to Find Time for Exercise.

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2. Eliminate Stressors and Seek Help If You’re Depressed

Anything that causes you major stress, like anger or anxiety, will in time begin to eat away the parts of your brain that are responsible for memory. Amongst the most brain-damaging stressors is depression, which is actually often misdiagnosed a a memory problem since one of its primary symptoms is the inability to concentrate.

If you can’t concentrate, then you might feel like you are constantly forgetting things. Depression increases the levels of cortisol in your bloodstream which elevates the cortisol levels in the brain. Doctors have found that increased cortisol diminishes certain areas of the brain, especially the hippocampus which is where short-term memories are stored.

Prolonged depression can thus destroy your brain’s ability to remember anything new. Seek professional help to combat your depression – your brain will thank you.

3. Get a Good Night’s Sleep and Take Naps

Getting a consistent 7 to 8 hours of sleep each night will increase your memory. During sleep, the brain firms up memories of recently acquired information.

Getting enough sleep will help you get through the full spectrum of nocturnal cycles that are essential to optimal brain and body functioning during the waking hours. Taking a nap throughout the day, especially after learning something new, can also help you to retain those memories as well as recharge your brain and keep it sharper longer.

4. Feed Your Brain

Fifty to sixty percent of the brain’s overall weight is pure fat, which is used to insulate its billions of nerve cells. The better insulated a cell is, the faster it can send messages and the quicker you will be thinking.

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This is precisely why parents are advised to feed their young children whole milk and to restrict dieting – their brains’ need fat to grow and work properly. Skimping on fats can be devastating even to the adult brain.

Thus, eating foods that contain a healthy mix of fats is vital for long-term memory. Some excellent food choices include fish (especially anchovies, mackerel and wild salmon) and dark leafy green vegetables. Here’re more brain food choices: 12 Foods that Can Improve Your Brain Power

Deep-fried foods obviously contain fat but their lack of nutritional value is not going to help your brain or your body, so think healthy foods and fats.

5. Eat Breakfast and Make Sure It Includes an Egg

According to Larry McCleary, M.D., author of  The Brain Trust Program, an egg is the ideal breakfast. Eggs contain B vitamins which help nerve cells to burn glucose, antioxidants that protect neurons against damage; and omega-3 fatty acids that keep nerve cells firing at optimal speed.

Other foods to add to your breakfast include fruits, veggies and lean proteins. Avoid trans fats and high fructose corn syrup. Trans fats diminish the brain cells’ ability to communicate with each other and HFCS can actually shrink the brain by damaging cells.

Having a healthy breakfast in the morning has been shown to improve performance throughout the day. If you’re too busy to have a healthy breakfast, this maybe just right for you: 33 Quick And Healthy Breakfasts For Busy Mornings

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6. Write it Down

If there’s something you want to remember, writing it down can help.

It may sound like a no-brainer, but do you really know why? Writing it down creates oxygenated blood flow to areas of your brain that a responsible for your memories and literally exercises those parts of it. Here’s How Writing Things Down Can Change Your Life.

You can start a journal, write yourself emails or even start keeping a blog – all of these activities will help to improve your capacity to remember and memorize information.

7. Listen to Music

Research shows that certain types of music are very helpful in recalling memories. Information that is learned while listening to a particular song or collection can often be recalled by thinking of the song or “playing” it mentally. Songs and music can serve as cues for pulling up particular memories.

8. Visual Concepts

In order to remember things, many people need to visualize the information they are studying.

Pay attention to photographers, charts and other graphics that might appear in your textbook; or if you’re not studying a book, try to pull up a mental image of what it is you are trying to remember. It might also help to draw your own charts or figures, or utilize colors and highlighters to group related ideas in your notes.

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Here, you can learn How to Become a Person Who Can Visualize Results.

9. Teach Someone Else

Reading material out loud has been shown to significantly improve memory of the material. Expanding further upon this idea is the fact that psychologists and educators have found that by having students teach new concepts to others, it helps to enhance understanding and recall.

Teach new concepts and information to a friend or study partner, and you’ll find you remember the information a lot better.

10. Do Crossword Puzzles, Read or Play Cards

Studies have shown that doing crossword puzzles, read or play cards on a daily basis not only keep your brain active but also help to delay memory loss, especially in those who develop dementia.

So pick up the daily newspaper and work on that crossword puzzle, read a book or enjoy a game of solitaire.

Pick one to two of these tips first and start applying them to your everyday life. Very soon you’ll find yourself having better memories and a clearer head!

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Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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