09 February 2013 By Rachel’s

Tips for the Trail – Winter Strength Training – Xterra – 2-3-2011

By Rachel Cieslewicz

published in Xterra 2/3/2011

When the weather outside is just too frightful for a run, indoor strength training can be a healthy alternative. Strength training will result in increased running health, better form, faster times, and offers a great excuse to incorporate other things for a while. And it doesn’t have to mean hitting the gym for a monotonous workout.

One of the reasons some athletes experience injury is because of muscle imbalance. If we always perform the same repetitive motion, by nature some muscles will develop more than others, or become overly fatigued. This results in compensation patterns and possible injury.

Rachel Cieslewicz YogaRunners with a winter season can choose cross-training activities such as snowshoeing, Nordic skiing, or snow biking-yep! This one is fun! For those blessed with warm weather and sun, biking and swimming are great. These will help to balance out the lower body muscles and develop a strong core.  You will fly into the spring season with a refreshed mind as well.  Who knows, you may find that a winter snow biking program and perhaps a little swimming will have you ready to tackle XTERRA’s outstanding off-road triathlons!

My personal favorite ways to winter strength train when indoors are with yoga and Pilates. You will gain supreme balance and core strength – long, lean, flexible strong muscles included! Two other take-away benefits from yoga and Pilates specific for your running are great posture and proper breathing techniques, which again can play a huge role in faster trail run times.  Plus, you will learn some cool “cocktail” poses to show off to your friends for post, or pre-race parties!

Regardless of what you choose, strength train and you will find it carries over to more command on tricky trails, better ascending ability, and you will start to understand the secrets of top runners dancing effortlessly along the trails.
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 at  or visit her website or follow her on

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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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