Tips for the Trail – Running For The Love Of It – XTERRA 1-31-2013

By Rachel Cieslewicz

Published on Xterra January 31, 2013

The beginning of a new year is always an excellent time to set goals for your season rising up on the horizon. Of course, we have our bucket list of amazing races to enter and adventurous destinations to run. We also process goals such as running healthy, setting personal records, and improving form and efficiency.  Yet, sometimes along our journey, life happens.

Rachel CTough life situations, illness or injury can cause setbacks. This in turn could diminish the spirit and destroy motivation. As part of a perfectly planned year, it is important to prepare mentally for the unknown. How do we continue traveling towards our dreams and promises, even when the going gets tough?

I have the solution! As you write your goals for the season, create training programs, and plan race strategy, remember why you are doing it. What motivates you, and makes you feel alive?

Do you run for health and fitness? Is it to balance a stressful work life? Do you love the active outdoor community, or seek the solitude of an early morning solo venture? Do you carry a purpose beyond yourself that urges you to be out there, such as running for someone who cannot, or to raise funds for a humanitarian cause?

On the inside, how does it make you feel?  What words and emotions come to mind when you describe your perfect trail run? What does it mean to touch, feel, listen, smell, and even taste, in essence, to allow you to completely come alive? What is it about running trails that inspires you to fully embrace the XTERRA mantra, “Live More”?

For myself, the why I do it comes down to one ultimate word. Love.  The joy I feel running free, dancing on trails, breathing fresh air, and sharing knowledge and experiences with others, all while enjoying nature, is a gift. Winning events is a pleasant bonus, but it is certainly not the end all.  Mixed into the easy parts of being an athlete, and human being, are years of sacrifice, setbacks and other obstacles.  Many difficult circumstances became part of the balance.  Sometimes I ran to handle other aspects of life. Most often I must integrate life purpose to assist my running. Yes, it is a full circle.  When things get hard in life we can choose to perceive it is an opportunity to soon become a greater athlete and human.

At this point in life, my greatest motivation to keep running and being strong is for my son, Canyon. I want to inspire him to love nature and to always be true to himself.  When I run I think about him.  When I am struggling to get out, I run because I feel healthy and happy and free. This directly teaches and inspires him. One of my greatest prides is that he now runs with me. Trail runs with Canyon are the best ever! Love. It is that simple for me.

My suggestion is to write down next to each goal 5 reasons it is important for you to succeed. You can add pictures, and make it all elaborate, or keep it simple. Regardless, place your written reasons where you can see it every day. That way when things are tough, you have a written tool to inspire yourself to run and “Live More” by doing what you love, and loving what you do.

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in St. George, Utah. She is a past winner of several XTERRA Trail Run events, 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 coach. She can be reached atrcanyon1@gmail.com  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.