Tips for the Trail – Running Out of Town – Xterra – 3-11-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 3/11/2011

Travel is a part of life for many people in today’s world. I travel often to participate in races and teach clinics, and I love it. I use my “business travel” as an excuse for meeting new people and enjoying new places different from my home. Whether traveling for business, family, or vacation, running in new places can be a grand adventure. The more comfortable you get with running in unfamiliar territory, the more comfortable you will be when traveling to your next XTERRA race!

Rachel CieslewiczAs with anything, it takes a bit of planning to have the best run ever in an unfamiliar place.  If I am going to a town where my main purpose isn’t the run, I have several ways of finding routes. Running is a lifestyle. It is more fun to surround myself with like-minded individuals than to try to beg a bewildered hotel worker or a non-running family for suggestions on the nearest 10-mile trail through bushes and rocks.

My favorite strategy is to call the local running store wherever I am going to visit and ask about group runs or clubs. This inevitably leads to really cool things. First, I don’t have to worry about getting lost, which I am notorious for.  I get to relax and enjoy the run, guided by others who are happy to share their favorite routes. This then leads to the next cool thing — new friends. Kindred spirits who you may get to see again on another visit, or perhaps at a future race.  An added bonus is inside tips on great yoga studios, awesome local races, and perhaps an invite for another run!

If it doesn’t work to meet up with locals, my next best place to figure out amazing runs is the Internet. There are many sites that give route ideas, directions, etc., just by typing in the place you want to visit. Two sites that I like are www.trails.com and  www.mapmyrun.com. Requires a small membership but worth it for all the info you get.

Before you leave your home, check the weather of your destination. If you have difficulties tracking down an accurate report, plan to bring layers so you can dress appropriately. Hand-held water bottles or simple waist packs are always good to have no matter where you are running. Packing a drink with calories or an energy gel are also good ideas. A cell phone and $20 bill are emergency essentials, in case a taxi is necessary for a mid-run crisis. Traveling runs are not so fun if a hitch hike or major bonk is involved!

If you are lucky enough to travel to a different city for a race, the running route is taken care of. Race travel has its own variables.  First, find lodging as close to the event as possible. If there is a host hotel, support it. That way, you may again have the opportunity to meet fellow runners, and an easy time on race morning getting to the start. It’s also great to support a hotel that supports your great event.

Again, check the weather! It is miserable racing an event that you are over or under dressed for.  Make certain you have any special gels/food/beverage you will need on race day or leading up to it.  Do you experience chafing, or are you prone to blisters? Be sure to have preventive measures for that. Hats, sunglasses, comfortable running clothes and the best shoes for your feet are imperative and worth the money. Again, do you need extra fluid carried with you as you race, in a bottle, pack or belt? When you’re packing for your trip, bring a separate bag with all of your race essentials so everything is in one place. That way, it will be easy to find on race day, and you can fully embrace your big event!

Want some practice racing a fabulous event out of town?  Here is your chance!  On April 9, the Lake Las Vegas Run (5k/10k/21k races) is the perfect event. It is hosted by XTERRA and held in conjunction with the West Cup triathlon on April 10. It’s also a good excuse to get to Las Vegas!

If you have a friend racing the triathlon, come a day early and hit the trails. I won the 21k race last year and it was fantastic! Wide open beautiful desert just outside of the incredible Lake Las Vegas Resort. The venue will blow your mind!  It is an easy flight and then a short drive from the Las Vegas airport. The temps in April are perfect. Definitely shorts weather.  The wonderful course last year included a variety of desert terrain with a perfect mix of hills, flats, and single track to keep you on your toes! I will be there to race again and am counting down the days!

Coming soon are more tips for the race.  Take my advice. Make the commitment now and I’ll help you figure out the best way to navigate the trail later for your best ever race experience at the Lake Las Vegas trail runs!

Rachel Cieslewicz is an elite runner and triathlete based in Salt Lake City, Utah. She placed fifth at the 2010 XTERRA Trail Run World Championship in 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