So what's a running retreat, you ask? Well, it's like an adult summer camp filled with....running! But also, lots of great educational sessions on things like marathon nutrition, mental strength, stretching, and a form analysis. Plus plenty of time to veg out, get to know your fellow campers, and some really great food!
The camp I went to was at Zap Fitness Camp near Blowing Rock, North Carolina. This is actually a training facility for professional athletes who are aspiring to some pretty cool things. In the dining room, they had goal boards up for each athlete. A few of them had "2016 Olympics" on their boards. The cool thing is that those goals are not a stretch or overambitious. One of our RC coaches, Sarah Crouch, is a ZAP athlete and is currently training for the upcoming Olympic trials.
|Here's Sarah doing one of her workouts at the park we ran at.|
|Athlete house, including gym & dining room.|
Each day we would go into Blowing Rock to run at Moses Cone Park, named after Moses Cone who invented wearable denim. Or the process...I'm not sure. Because Zap is actually in kind of in a valley in the mountains, most of the roads are kind of twisty and steep, which is why we went to the park to run. The park is filled with carriage trails, and has a lovely lake at the base with a mile long trail around it. Most of the trails include some good climbs, but the lake trail is pretty flat.
Except I'm not a mountain climber. Reality check! The climb to the Manor House was not exactly hard per se...but it was a workout. About halfway there, I decided there was no way I was getting all the way up to the tower.
|View from the Manor House. Really, it's up there.|
|Toughest run of my life.|
Back at camp, there's a lovely little stream that flows along the property. Great for doing an impromptu ice bath.
Plus, the facility has a full gym with lots of foam rollers and other things to help with workouts and recovery. I didn't get into the hot tub, but that would have been pretty nice too!
Of course, after everyone's long runs on Saturday (most 14-16 miles, but 2 overachievers hit 19 & 20 miles!), we were ready to kick back and relax. The chef is amazing, and made us a delicious lasagna that night, plus a vegetarian ratatouille that was out of this world. There was also plenty of this stuff....
With a brewery and wine shop in Blowing Rock, there were plenty of opportunities to share a beverage with my new friends.
Overall, it was a really great trip. A little out of my comfort zone, but I'm so glad that I went. Talking with the other runners, and having a private chat with one of the coaches gave me a lot of confidence going forward with my running.
I know I've mentioned it before, but if you haven't checked out RunnersConnect yet, please do. It is such a great site not only for race training, but also includes a wealth of knowledge on all things running related. The community there and the support they offer is invaluable, as well. I'm so glad I signed up!
Would you go to a running retreat by yourself? Have you heard of Zap Fitness?