17 May 2013 By Rachel’s

Tips for the Trail – An Urban Trail Running Dream Come True – XTERRA – 5-17-2013

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published on XTERRA May 17, 2013

Mountain trails, river pathways, and hilly seaside bluffs are amazing places to wake up to. How incredible it is to roll out of bed and slip your feet into your favorite running shoes, as you prepare to prance along on a beautiful trail right out your door.  While enjoying nature’s running gifts is a fantastic way to start the day, it is not a reality for many.  XTERRA recognizes this. For everyone who lives in an environment where trail systems may be few, you have a chance to shine in Richmond, Virginia.

Richmond StreamThe XTERRA Richmond Trail Run is set for June 8, and it is an event that is all about trail run racing, urban style.  And for everyone else blessed with mountain vistas looming above your abode, the 10K or 21K at Richmond will give trail running a cool as ever, entirely new meaning.

Within the Richmond 21K race, the opportunity to “Live More,” urban style, opens up an entirely new world of running fun.  The James River and an incredible park and trail network exhibits the most innovative trail race course ever! It is waiting just for you.

Who knew that you could experience a bit of pavement, an 80-foot section of “Mayan Ruin” straight-up stairs, a crossing full of river rocks to hop amongst, a twisty technical hilly single track forest, bridges, and more? Welcome to Virginia, baby.

This tried and true course is one of the most popular on the XTERRA trail racing circuit.  In fact 2013 marks the 15th year Richmond plays host to the XTERRA tribe for the greatest urban adventure weekend on the map.  There is a little bit of anything and everything to test your limits in a whole new way.  This all sounds superbly fun, right? It is!  But how to do you train for a wild urban half marathon that feels like a marathon?

The first part is easy.  Our minds and hearts are already there. Trail runners are familiar with nature’s surprises filled with sudden rain or midsummer mountain snowstorms, heat waves, flash floods, snakes, big cats, bears, bloody knees, creative emergency hydration solutions, and the like.  And then you add in daily life challenges.  Somehow we get through it and become even stronger on the other side.  Selective amnesia helps as well.  As soon as possible we are back at it again, playing as children with nature’s playgrounds.

The second part of your preparation for Richmond will open up new possibilities for your own training from this point on.  When I lived in Salt Lake City, I was literally minutes from a number of incredible canyons filled with trails. The problem was I didn’t always have the time to get out to my favorite running scenes. I was a single mom, worked full time, and trained and raced like it was my other half.

To remedy my need to find dirt, I put together my own urban trail runs for the days I was short on time.  I would run right out the door from my house. From there I would head up to the base of the canyons in the high roads. At dead ends, I would find little trails or deer tracks to bring me to a park, or anther road, trail, etc. On one of my favorite 15k loops, I was able to run in 6 different parks linked by pavement and pathways. I would come home happy and refreshed and ready to meet the remainder of my day.

Living now in the Southern Utah desert I do the same thing, linking parks, desert washes, and trails with roads as the connectors.  It is so exhilarating! I never get bored. I do get stronger while adapting to a variety of terrains. As a bonus, I am educated about my community in a very unique way.  Even though I don’t live halfway up a mountain, by the sea, or in Richmond, I love that I have found a fabulous way to “Live More” regardless of where I am.

Choose to look at your own environment as a playground. Incorporate into your routes high-rise building or stadium steps, bridges, rock gardens, parks and urban trails. You will find quickly how close nature (or at least training for nature) is to home. Your dream of limiting pavement pounding as training for the trails is now true!  You will come to Richmond fully prepared.

Additional tips for success at Richmond are to hydrate and fuel with nutritious food the way you know works for your body the entire week before. Weather is typically fantastic in June, but prepare for humid conditions that will make a hot day draining, or a surprise chilly day, bone cold.  Come rested and ready to embrace the unknown, knowing full well you are in for a fun-filled race adventure, XTERRA style.


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  or visit her website atwww.newageathlete.comor follow her

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I will always remember waking up at the age of 12 to the pain I saw in so many while simultaneously realizing how lucky I was to feel fantastic.

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