Tips for the Trail – Post-race Rejuvenation – Xterra – 10-7-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 10/7/2011

Editor’s note: Rachel Cieslewicz placed 15th overall in the women’s field at the XTERRA Trail Run National Championship on Sept. 25 at Snowbasin Resort near Ogden, Utah. She placed fourth in the women’s 30-34 age division while her body was still recovering from a serious health condition just a month earlier.

Rachel C SnowbasinAs always, XTERRA threw down big time for Trail Run Nationals.  It was an epic amazing event, and I was exceptionally lucky to race.

During Nationals, great goals were achieved and new friendships created, all while memories of an exhilarating weekend were etched into adventurous souls.  With the race over, now what?  All of the hard work, ups and downs of preparing for the big day are in the past.  It is amazing how being driven by dreams and goals can keep us so pre-occupied.  When it is all over, is it normal to feel let down, maybe notice we are run down?

As humans, there is always ebb and flow in life. Racing is no different.  For anyone racing Nationals, it was a huge event. Training, nutrition, travel, and the race itself took an incredible amount of energy.  It was exciting!  Post-race, it is important to realize and remember that rest and decompression are just as important as the training and other race preparation.

Personally, just getting to the start line for Nationals this year was a huge push.  Just one month before, while racing a six-day stage event, I contracted E Coli. From day one I was so ill I had no business running. I made it through four slow stages and was on IV’s each day as I was so weak and dehydrated after.  I was finally sent home when I started showing signs of near kidney failure.

In the moment, I was so focused on that race that I didn’t realize how it would influence later races in the season.  I have had to take a lot of time off, work on healing and rebuilding the flora in my gut, etc.

I am fortunate I still lined up for Nationals, but it was a very slow race for my tired body.  With Trail Run Nationals finished, I am finally taking real time off.  Sleeping a lot, and doing other things such as riding my bicycles slowly. I even took off last weekend for a rejuvenating backpacking trip to the high mountains.  I needed a mental and emotional break every bit as much as the physical.

And guess what?  The other day in the pouring rain my body felt ready to run. So I went. For the first time in over six weeks I ran hard and light and fast and felt like a runner again. I just needed time to heal and do other things.

Give yourself permission to enjoy biking, camping, resting, or whatever it is you have passion towards.  There is a place and time for everything. Especially taking a break when needed.  Then when it is time to get going again you will be ready on all levels to get find again your joy in running.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She won the women’s division of the XTERRA Lake Las Vegas and Santa Cruz half-marathons this year, and placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship last December at Kualoa Ranch, Hawaii. She is a talented sports massage therapist, Pilates and yoga instructor and is a certified running form coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.