Tips for the Trail - The Importance of a Mini-Break
By Rachel Cieslewicz
Many components create a successful XTERRA race season. Consistent workouts, nutrition, equipment, and race logistics are typically on the mind. This time of year is a great time to also look at burnout. For most athletes, a training/racing cycle is anywhere from 12 to 24 weeks. At the end of the cycle, a break is crucial in order to rejuvenate the mind and heal the body. In the endurance world, the importance of taking rest, and sometimes a complete break from our sport is the last thing we want to look at. In reality, it can save your season.
XTERRA trail running offers many incredible events throughout the year. The next big events on the calendar are in the latter part of September for Trail Run Nationals and then XTERRA Worlds in December. By the time Worlds are here, it makes for a very long season. In order to be strong and motivated for your Utah National Championship and even later yet, the XTERRA World Championship, ask yourself some questions now:
1. Am I as motivated to get up and train each day as in early season?
2. Do I feel good?
3. Do I wake up feeling rested?
4. When was the last day I took off?
5. What about injuries?
6. Do I have an appetite for healthy food?
7. Does my body continue to respond well to my workouts?
8. Do my legs have spring when I run (versus feeling like lead weights)?
9. Am I excited for my future races?
10. Do my season goals still seem attainable?
Taking a snapshot of where you are right now and making adjustments if necessary will ensure you finish your season strong and "Live More" while enjoying your trail running lifestyle.
If you feel awesome and motivated, that is fantastic. If you are right on track with the balance of training and life as you continue to build into a stronger runner week-by-week, wonderful! Keep it up and fly strong.
But if training is becoming a chore or your body is developing nagging pains or injuries, or if you just seem off, then now is the time to correct the process.
The first step is to take a day or two off. This will not hurt your fitness. Take a little time to receive massage, practice yoga and sleep in. Your body will thank you.
A few days off training will grant the time to do a mental check and adjust training plans and goals if necessary. Look at your nutrition and determine if you are eating enough and taking in adequate nutrients to keep up with your running. Another great idea is to get some blood work done to rule out anemia or any endocrine problems.
If after a couple days you are still feeling tired, and blood tests, nutrition, and training have been considered, take a couple more days off. Do not be afraid to do this. It takes almost two weeks of doing nothing to lose top end fitness. A couple of sluggish days when returning to running is much better than to completely burn out or be forced a lot of time out due to injury.
If you are simply tired of running at the moment, then cross train. Ride bicycles, take yoga classes, or go hiking. In a short time the craving to run will return. After your mini-break, the season will be fresh and clear, along with the desire to achieve your goals and "Live More". Taking time off when you need to rather than a forced timeout because you have to from injury will lead you to finish a strong, healthy and happy XTERRA season.
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 email@example.com or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her onwww.twitter.com/newageathlete.