Tips for the Trail – Creating Your Song – XTERRA – 3-15-2013

By Rachel Cieslewicz

Published in XTERRA March 15, 2013

If trail running were a song, how would it sing?  The easy answer is simply to run to someone else’s tune, or turn the brain off and escape from the rest of life by foot. While such simplicity can act as a huge stress relief in the short term, it won’t lead to ultimate trail health and longevity over the long run.  How can we build a life, fully integrated and enhanced by trail running, while living with true music as our guide?

Rachel CieslewiczFor anyone who has studied music, or simply loves to listen to great tunes, you will notice that in quality music there are many different beats. When placed together, the beats become patterns, leading to the overall rhythm, and thus, a strong foundation for the song.  The song is enriched by melody amongst varying layers of sound and speed.  On top of this are numerous aspects of the composer’s artistic or technical intellect, intertwined to make it their own perfect expression.  I call this, infusing soul. This all integrates into verses, refrain, and chorus.  And finally at the end is the coda, or finish. There has to be a climax, right?

For most of us, our day-to-day lives cannot be only about running.  Life includes family and other relationships, spiritual practices, work, and of course, trail running.  To make it easier to balance, why not turn it into a song?  I’ll help with the title. It’s called “Live More!” From there it is quite easy.  Think of each major part of your life that is important to you. The pattern these create is the main beat, or base. Of course you can’t leave it here.

Life is typically more complex than saying hello to the family, plucking yourself down on a church bench, or sitting on a yoga mat chanting “Ohm.”  Work does not exist endlessly sitting at a desk pretending to happily answer phones like a drone, just as playtime is not often a pair of trail runners met with sunny skies and drinking fountains every mile of a fantastic run.  Even if life were that easy and mundane, exorbitant boredom would very soon set in. This is like a song with the same verse, no refrain, and a missing chorus.  Who wants to listen to that?

Both fortunately and not, as humans we are very good at bringing in ups and downs. The successful trail runner’s life is filled with adventure, deadlines, vacations, races, school activities, and drama. We get injured running and think our life is over. And then we heal. We get into a really cool yoga pose, and we fall out.  We DNF a race and determine our “career” is over. And then the next event, we hit a personal record. The endless list consisting of the nuances of life marches on. In your song, consider these hiccups of life the melody, or at least dynamics to keep it interesting.  If nothing else, eventually amnesia will set in from the trauma and laughter will by found as you entertain friends with stories of the catastrophes.

Creating an adaptable successful life for your trail running adventures is of course about your goals and training, nutrition, hydration, rest and recovery.  On a weekly basis it is necessary to include all of these in order to create balance. In addition, the other foundational beats in your life must be considered. What are the main 3-5 most important components of your relationships, work, and other main life avocations, which make you feel alive? Daily rhythm is created by implementing the most important elements of your life beats into perfect slots to ensure you have time for everything.  This way when the inevitable unknown happens to pull you out of your rhythm, just as a musician misses a note, you have a plan to bring you back soon.

Effortlessly weaving all parts of your life together, along with a positive attitude, gives you the additional benefit of forming great life habits, and granting you a healthily balanced trail runner lifestyle. You know when is time to run, when it is time to play with kids or pets, and have a social life.  At times many aspects of life harmonize. This is of course, the best ever!  This is your chorus.  No matter what happens, you always come back to this.

Just as in song where each verse tells a story, each day, week, adventure, is its own verse.  Sometimes you want a repeat of the best training or racing experience on record. When things go sour and the verse is not what you like, simply learn from it and delete it from your song.  Some verses in your song do not include running, but a balance of other life intricacies.  Regardless of what life throws at you as you progress in your trail running dreams, remember all is good, as you can always come back to your chorus when the verse is over.

Throughout your song, or often before the chorus, is the refrain. This is your mantra. I suggest if you don’t have one yet, you adopt the title: “Live More.”  The more you feel it and say it and sing it, the more that becomes you way of being.  To always look forward to living more is a fabulous approach as you run through life!

And finally, the finish, or coda is important as well.  Consider this your achievement of a big goal, whether it’s a personal record at a big race, marrying your soul mate, or any other wonderful event. This is what makes the song all come together.  Of which then you take a look, perhaps make some changes, and start the song all over again.  Enjoy your music.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, including the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas Trail Run, and placed ninth overall in the women’s field at the 2012 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor, and is a certified running form and endurance coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.