Photo: Courtesy of Eleven Salomon Running Experience
Already taking into account the cost of gear and race registrations, the idea of attending a running camp may sound gratuitous. Then again, if running is your favorite hobby, sanity-saver or a way to keep the doctor away, a “runcation” may be exactly what you need. Think of it as a chance to get better at the sport you love, a way to meet interesting people (or connect with family and friends) and enjoy a vacation with a fitness twist.
Here’s seven reasons why you should consider a running camp or runcation with examples to inspire you.
Learn something new
Reading about different running techniques in a book, magazine or online is one thing. But learning in person from trained instructors makes for a more meaningful and impactful learning experience. Not only do you learn from the pros, but watching others and practicing as you learn also gives you the opportunity to understand techniques and ask questions as you go.
If you want to run with less effort, are injured or just stuck in a plateau, it may be time to shake up your running form. At the ChiRunning Retreat (June 25-30, $865 for tuition, meals and dormitory accommodations) at Kripalu in Stockbridge, Mass., ChiRunning Founder Danny Deyer and certified instructors share the ChiRunning principles of good biomechanics imbued with the wisdom of T’ai Chi. From going faster with less effort and the possibility of resolving lingering injuries, this program is for runners of all ages and abilities.
Go someplace exotic
Photo: Courtesy of Northern Iceland Mindful Running Retreat
Registering for a running camp or runcation is a no-stress way to run while traveling—you get to explore someplace interesting and the trip organizer(s) handle the details. You may have to figure out your own flight, but that’s easy compared to determining running routes, lodging, transportation and food in a foreign land, especially if you don’t speak the language.
In addition to guided runs, instructional sessions, gourmet meals, whale watching and a massage, the ladies-only, Northern Iceland Mindful Running Retreat (August 17-21, 2017; $6,800 per person double occupancy) includes a pre-trip training program, assistance with travel plans and a detailed list of what to pack. Daily runs average 5-9 miles a day along pristine trails, with afternoons and evenings spent enjoying delicious food, spa treatments and enlightening, run-centric programs.
It’s easy to get in a rut—whether you lost your running verve, are getting slower or think you need a push, a running camp is the perfect opportunity to break out of your comfort zone in a safe way. Whether you want to learn how to tackle technical trails and run at altitude or focus on your technique and stride it out with other like-minded folks, there’s a camp for you.
The Eleven Salomon Running Experience (June 22-25, $2,100 for early bird registration) brings running enthusiasts together with experts from Team Salomon in the laidback mountain town of Crested Butte, Colo., for four days of running and relaxing. According to the website, if you can run 6 miles, you’ll enjoy this program. In addition to daily runs and talks, chef prepared meals, and resort accommodations, attendees have time to explore Crested Butte. Optional activities include bike rides, climbing, massages or a night out on the town.
Go on an adventure
Esplanade Traverse, Photo: Bruno Long
If the idea of a point-to-point run sounds intriguing, but the logistics seem overwhelming, you aren’t alone. For example, those grand supported adventures professional athletes often enjoy, but seem largely unattainable for the rest of us.
Magi Scallion, the race director from the Golden Ultra in British Columbia, agrees. Which is why she organized the helicopter-supported, Esplanade Traverse (July 16-21, $2,000 CAD—roughly $1,535 USD—includes guides, helicopter transport, lodging and meals) through Canada’s Esplanade mountain range. Billed as “adventure with a touch of luxury,” runners are transported to the starting point by helicopter, then run from location to location, with gear carried on by the helicopter—meaning plenty of trail running with no roughing it.
Expand your mind and recharge in a weekend
Rarely do you have an entire weekend to run. Runs are usually fit in between kids’ sporting events and activities, cutting the grass—again–and social commitments. So spending a weekend in a beautiful place, with the opportunity to rest, run and even expand your mind is the treat you didn’t know you needed.
During the Weekend Body+Soul Transformation seminar (April 28-30, $448 for dormitory accommodations), shaman and healer Brant Secunda and winning Ironman triathlete Mark Allen guide participants through the principles outlined in their book “Fit Soul, Fit Body: 9 Keys to a Healthier, Happier You.” While not specifically a running camp, there is plenty of time for running and yoga, plus you’ll hear from Allen himself about his legendary training and racing breakthrough and how to get faster by slowing down. They also offer a program in Santa Cruz, Calif., in February.
Get Race Ready
Face it, training for a race can be a lonely road. Luckily, many large races have training programs, and local events often have running groups. Or you can go to a camp specifically tailored to your race distance.
For those with the Boston Marathon on their calendar, The McMillan Running Boston Marathon Prep Camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., (February 17-20, $599) will have you raring to race. Throughout the four-day weekend, the program includes runs, course-specific tips, race nutrition and more, plus entry into the Arizona Half Marathon to test your fitness eight weeks out from the big day.
Train Like (and With) an Ultrarunner
Photo: Courtesy of Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp
There are so many elements to running an ultra—the distances, fueling, crew, training for crazy terrain—that newbies and experienced ultrarunners alike can always learn something new. Discussion boards and forums certainly help, but, once again, the best way to improve is often through immersion—even better if it’s with others well-versed in the sport.
And that is why Geoff Roes founded the Alaska Mountain Ultrarunning Camp (July 20-26 with special guest Joe Grant, $1,575 including lodging, meals and five days of guided running) in Juneau, Alaska. With long days on technical trails (think lots of vertical) exploring the Tongass National Forest, this is where to go if you’re training for a 100-mile race. “Running an ultra is certainly possible if you are not enjoying it, but 99 times out of 100 it’s going to go a lot better if you are,” says Geoff Roes, camp founder and 2009/2010 Ultrarunner of the Year. “We really try to send people home feeling like they have learned some things to help them more thoroughly enjoy their next race or next long run.”