i don’t know that i would call myself a runner…but i do run (for the most part). before i left for ukraine i completed two half-marathons and and was in great shape. i headed to the local ymca almost every day and found comfort in the warmth of the gym in the cold of winter. but there aren’t any treadmills in this land, no sir!

running in ukraine is…interesting. interesting and challenging. not so different from the arcade game of packman.  except this time you’re not a yellow dot fighting off ghost blobs — here you’re fighting off angry street dogs, charging goats, strange looks with comments from locals, not to mention drunk men, the forces of mother nature, and ukrainian winters. in a way it’s running at its bare minimum at running at its rawest.

i’ve tried my best (well i don’t know if i can really say that) to keep running in ukraine. it certainly hasn’t been easy and has taken extreme motivation and search for self-discipline. oh how i long for the days i could just hop on the treadmill when it’s cold out, use weightlifting machines instead of water jugs, or drive to my favorite running trail and wave to fellow runners. *sigh*…in not much time i will be able to. but first i must get through winter and spring. and the marathon in april that i signed up for.

sometimes i set goals rather high for myself, like a marathon (i’ve never run before) in spring which means training during the ukrainian winter. but i guess if we didn’t push ourselves we wouldn’t get anywhere. i’m writing all this out publicly (the official 30 weeks of my marathon training) as a way to motivate myself during the cold cold cold months of training to follow. maybe you’ll find it interesting, humorous, and motivating too : )

(shots i’ve captured on my runs)


(week 1-5  have already passed before i decided to blog this)


  • november 7th // wednesday
    2 miles
    found a dead dog, burning piles of leaves everywhere
  • november 8th// thursday
    3 miles
    lots of car honks, beautiful sunset, growl-off after a near dog-attack, post lady stopped to notify me of a package
  • november 11th // sunday
    4.65 miles // 41*F
    took me 3 miles to get in the groove, almost thought i’d get away with no honks today. nope.


  • november 13th // tuesday
    2 miles // 40*F
    man called out to me ‘LEFT LEFT LEFT RIGHT LEFT’
  • november 15th// thursday
    3 miles // 39*F
    it’s getting cold. first time i could see my breath. shouldn’t go gloveless again. the same italian looking truck driver passed me and gestured as if to say ‘what are you doing??’(this was a bad running week)


  • november 20th // tuesday
    2 miles // 45*F
    perfect temperature to run. so much energy that came from nowhere, i think i impressed my neighbor. post lady rode by on her delivery bike and was shocked when i answered her with ‘nah i’m not cold’. 
  • november 21st // wednesday
    3 miles // 46*F
    really windy but not too cold. old man tried running besides me. he shouted ‘how old are you??’ i held up a two and a five (assuming he knew i wasn’t seven). he told me he was 37 and that i should take him with me. pretty hilarious since i think he was pushing 60.
  • november 22nd // thursday
    2 miles // 44*F
    happy thanksgiving!! squeezed in a short ‘turkey trot’ of my own before i finished up t-day shopping.


  • november 27th // tuesday
    2 miles // 45*F
    absolutely NO HONKS today. never thought this would happen! hard to breathe today since everyone was burning leaves. gross.
  • november 28th // wednesday
    3.5 miles // 51*F
    oddly warm out today. felt so nice! again no honking! maybe they’re all getting used to me ; )
  • november 29th // thursday
    2.5 miles // 54*F
    this warm weather is freaking me out.
  • december 1st // saturday
    5 miles // 54*F
    JUST beat the rain. furthest away from my village i’ve run. saw a few hypodermic needles.


  • december 5th // wednesday
    2 miles // 37*F
    had to pull out the ear muff-headband today.
  • december 7th // saturday
    3 miles // 30*F
    chilly chilly. ran with my ninja face mask for a while.
  • december 9th // saturday
    6.6 miles // 25*F
    ukrainian winter wind kicked my ASS today. not a very enjoyable run.


  • december 15th // saturday
    3 miles // 25*F
    lots of hurdles for running this week — freezing rain and wind, school projects, and leg pain. not such a great milage week.
  • december 16th // sunday
    3 miles // 15*F
    pretty darn cold and windy. lots of snot flying everywhere.


  • december 22nd // saturday
    3 miles // 20*F
    first snowy run with my yaktracks! so beautiful outside. the blizzard winds have stopped!! (at least for today).
  • december 23th // sunday
    7 miles // 15*F
    again no wind. lovely run. a few ‘molodets’ and a snowball fight with the neighbor boys at the end. : )


  • december 30th // sunday
    4 miles // 30*F
    wow. busy week and only one run this week. my weekly milage hasn’t been doing to well. but at least i got one run in!


  • january 6th // sunday
    3.5 miles // in sighisoara, romania
    first time i’ve been able to run while traveling/winter weather. such a lovely run with my friend morgan!


  • january 8th // tuesday
    7 miles // in bucharest, romania
    nice run in the capital with morgan. great sightseeing, but pretty chilly! my back was feeling the fall i took in the shower too. ouch.


  • running break — sick with strep


  • january 22nd // tuesday
    3.2 miles // 46*F
    got a giant mud puddle splashed on me by a passing car and nearly attacked by 2 giant dogs. welcome back to village running, kristen.
  • january 24th // thursday
    5.6 miles // 33*F
    gettin cooooolder. also ran past 4 dead dogs. lovely.
  • january 25th // friday
    3 miles // 35*F
    tried to use this run and practice on perfecting my runner’s form. not so easy.
  • january 27th // sunday
    10 miles // 30*F
    made it to the double digit milage! woo! did about 40 laps around the snowy ‘track’ at school. the wind chill was terrible and i ended up becoming a running-icicle at the end. brr!!


  • january 31st // thursday
    5 miles // 32*F
    furthest i’ve gone on the road out of my village. two cars pulled up beside me to ask what i was doing. 
  • february 1st // friday
    7 miles // 33*F
    i felt like a cash 4 clunkers car for the first 3 miles, but then things got better! phew!


  • february 6th // tuesday
    3 miles // 44*F
    finnnnnally some sunshine!!!!! i tried to make the most of catching some much needed rays.
  • february 8th // friday
    6 miles // 51*F
    clear blue skies! beautiful (but super windy) day. was stopped by an old man in a car and asked if i need a ride home. ha.
  • february 10th // sunday
    12 miles // 48*F
    no rain? no snow? no ice? what did i do to deserve this??! i must give a blessing to the weather gods of ukraine. good run. 


  • february 12th // tuesday
    3 miles // 38*F
    cold and rainy and mud allllll ova! 
  • february 15th // friday
    6 miles // 28*F
    first run in kyiv since this summer! so not used to running on sidewalks, busy intersections, and people dodging. failed to find new running shoes. also didn’t get my long run in this week because of traveling. eeeeek! time to make-up for it next week. 


  • february 20th // wednesday
    3 miles // 35*F
    caught the last little bit of sun!!
  • february 22nd // friday
    7 miles // 40*F
    found the other edge of my village! 
  • february 23rd // saturday
    3.4 miles // 30*F
    big. angry. dogs. on my normally ‘safe from dog attack’ route. super frustrating (not to mention frightening)   
  • february 24rd // sunday
    13.1 miles // 35*F
    it’s been almost 2.5 years since i’ve ran that distance!   


  • february 26th // tuesday
    3 miles // 37*F
    beautiful run while the sun began to set.
  • february 27th // wednesday
    7 miles // 38*F
    sun sun sunnnn! it feels like spring!


  • march 6th // wednesday
    4 miles // 37*F
    a few training set backs, but still movin! my knee is feelin a bit odd. hoping it’ll fix itself.
  • march 8th //friday
    8 miles // 38*F
    happy women’s day! quite a drizzly run but not that bad. it even ended with a student of mine running up to me and gifting me a chocolate bar! woo! 
  • march 10th // sunday
    16 miles // 38*F
    longest distance run! woo! rained the first half and got splashed with rainwater from cars, but the second half ended with a pup runnin with me and the village priest saying ‘good job!’

********* sidelined with tendonitis *************

UPDATE // July 2013

Still some leg pain but glad to be running the trails again!! I’ve been running for 4 consecutive weeks, which after a four month break, makes me a happy happy lady. Fingers crossed that my leg can keep up with me this time.



6 thoughts on “Running

  1. Hi there,

    I just stumbled across your blog and you made my day! I’m leaving in March for Peace Corps training in Ukraine… and I am so relived to see that you have been successfully running there! Even training for a marathon! Nice work! I thought I was going to have to stop running after hearing and reading things about how unusual it is for people in Ukraine to run for fun, especially outdoors. Definitely packing my running shoes now. Thank you!

    Looks like you are almost done with your service. I’m pretty anxious to start mine. How have you done with the language?

    – Jayson

    • hey jayson! i’m so glad you found my blog useful and that you’ve decided to pack your running shoes!! running in ukraine is challenging (i’m dealing with flooded mud roads right now. a little behind on my training eek!) but it’s possible. and you might even inspire some ukrainians to run too!

      there are some running events you shouldn’t miss (5k/half-marathon in kyiv and a volunteer organized wine half-marathon/10k in the west of ukraine!). quite a few volunteers run them, so definitely keep running : )

      it’s great to hear from a future pcv! i certainly remember feeling anxious before i left. you’ll be here before you know it! don’t fret too much about the language. you’ll have some of the best language training out there during your PST. will you be a TEFL/CD/YD? if you have any other questions please ask! good luck preparing for your service! : )

      • Your blog is great. Beautiful photos! I almost feel the need to go through all of your archives to get a sneak preview of what could be ahead of me! I’m really hoping I luck out with a shower like your neighbors!!

        I will be in Community Development and really have no idea what that will consist of. The information I have received so far does a great job of being really descriptive but still leaves you wondering “so what is that I will be doing…?”

        What city are you in? Has your experience been what you hoped for?

        That’s awesome news about the running events throughout Ukraine. Cold weather running gear is on my list now! Have you found it pretty easy to make time to travel around for things like that?

        Thanks for all the helpful info!

      • i’m so glad i can help! i can only hope you also end up with a shower like my neighbors…it’s the best one i’ve come across. ever. i’m living in a village (not far from the city melitopol in the southeast of ukraine), in a tiny house separate from my host family/landlords. it’s a pretty good living situation.

        our job titles here are pretty…blurred. well, i think they’re more concrete for CD, but YD and TEFL tend to blend together. thankfully because i get school breaks off, i’ve been able to travel quite a bit. though i know CD people are able to travel just as much. though i must admit CD people tend to be jealous they are of our school/summer vacation ; ). but we get the same number of travel days from peace corps, so it’s fair in that sense.

        quite a few volunteers (TEFL, CD, YD alike) met up in prague this last spring for the prague half-marathon — a gorgeous setting! maybe it’ll happen again with your group!

        that’s a tough question you ask. i’ve asked myself that before, and typically, depending on how the week has gone my answer varies. in some ways it’s not what i hoped for and in other ways is so much more than i could have ever hoped for. either way though, i wouldn’t change my experience, good and bad, for the world. (if you want me to go more in-depth on this question, which i’m more than happy to, just email me at

        i can offer some packing advice (on things other than clothes) too if you need it! : )

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