In 2012, Vlad Ixel decided it was time for a change, so he started running and switched to a vegan diet. It didn't take him long to climb the ladder of elite ultrarunning. By mid-2013 he had won the 75km Kep Ultra in Perth and set a new course record. Since then, Vlad has competed in a huge number of events for such a short career.
We're excited to have the opportunity to ask Vlad a few questions about 2018 and his plans for next year.
Vlad, it’s an honour to have you on Raw Trail Running. 2018 has been a pretty big year. What was the highlight for you?
Thank you for having me on! Yeah, 2018 has been a big year. I think that doing 5 half ironman races and being ranked number one age grouper in the world with no swimming and cycling background was one of the big highlights for me. I needed a little change from running 160km training weeks and triathlon gave me that. For the first half of 2018, most of my training was around triathlon and it was a mental and physical change up after 5 years of trail running. Also doing the 100k stage race in Kazakhstan was something that sticks up as a memorable moment of this year.
What was your most recent race, and what was a highlight for you?
I did the TNF100 - 50k race in Hong Kong 2 weeks ago and it was my 6th year in a row racing that race - I think it's a great an achievement finishing any ultra marathon and finishing second place was just a bonus.
What do you have planned for 2019 and what are you most excited about?
A lot of racing for sure. In 2018 I did 26 races and that's a lot lower than the years before where I was racing 35-40 times a year. So I think in 2019 I will aim for around 25 races. I would like to get back to racing the 100k distance as well after 2 years of a break from the really long races.
What has been your greatest running achievement so far?
I think it's been staying injury free since I started running 6 years ago, being able to train every single day and living this incredible lifestyle.
What has been your greatest running challenge so far?
I don't think I can pinpoint a single event but I think the challenge is not overdoing it with racing - there are so many good races out there today and I really want to do them all. but I'm learning to hold back and race a little less as I get older.
You've been coaching for some time now. Can you tell us a bit about your business and how can people get in touch with you?
Yeah, I have been coaching for 5 years now. The first year was 100% free as people contacted me for coaching as they saw how fast I was improving but I didn't feel like I could charge them as I had only been running for one year at that point. So I did it for free for a while. It started growing from that point after people I was coaching started improving and having good results. My main focus with coaching is staying injury free and I spend a lot of time with my runners building a solid base first.
What do you love about coaching, and what are some of the challenges?
I love seeing people achieve their goals. there is nothing like a seeing someone PB in a race and do something that they didn't think was possible few months before
What has been your greatest coaching achievement so far?
One lady that I coach went from doing 5k park runs to finishing her first 100k races a few months ago. when we started working together she was unsure if she would ever finish an HM and now she is looking for 160km races
What's your favourite strength exercise you get your athletes to do, and why is it so great?
It really depends on the runner, their level and goals but a lot of single leg work and a lot of glute strength. We also go into ankle and hip mobility with most runners which is super important.
You're well known for your vegan diet. What advice do you have for runners considering a plant-based diet?
Yes, it's been over 6 years as a vegan now. I think the main thing is to give it a try. Give it two weeks. If you don't feel better after 2 weeks go back to what you did before. I would also encourage runners to do their own research and not just rely on what people tell them or they saw on facebook.
What's your favourite post-run food, and what do you eat during long runs?
I don't really eat much during long runs but if I do I might have some nuts or dates and keep it as healthy as possible. During races, I have gels which are not too healthy but they are the best for calories per weight ratio and in a race its all about staying light if you want to be competitive. Post runs its usually something fast like a banana, dates, and nuts.
What piece of advice would you give to new trail runners?
Be smart about the really long races. I did seven 100k races in a space of 16 months and it was a little too much. I would really recommend planning the year in advance and making sure you build up to longer races and also allow time when you race shorter or have a break.
What’s next on your race calendar?
Next up I'm racing TNF100 50k race in Thailand at the end of January. I have done this race 3 times before and temperatures can get to 40 degrees so I'm looking forward to a sweaty hot trail race.
Thanks so much for the interview Vlad, and best of luck in 2019.
You can follow Vlad using these links: