On these trips around the country (and world), saying “om” isn’t about hunkering down on a meditation pillow—it’s about logging mileage.
First came the wellness retreat (meditation on the beach, anyone?), then came the run retreat (a getaway dedicated to miles). Now? Interest is growing among runners to support mileage in a way that’s not one or the other—all about fitness and conditioning or all about sitting still and meditating, says Elinor Fish, founder and CEO of Run Wild Retreats, a company that hosts mindful running retreats across the world.
Mindful running retreats are niche escapes that have their perks in terms of performance and overall wellbeing. Learning to identify tight spots (your jaw, your neck) or becoming more aware of your posture and breathing on run, for example, can boost efficiency, endurance, and lower your chances of injury, Fish explains. After you slip your sneakers off? Mindful running provides you the tools necessary to dial down your day-to-day stress response, she says. Much like regular mindfulness or meditation, it also roots you in the present moment—a scenic turn over an alpine bluff with the sun shining down—therefore increasing enjoyment.
“It’s easy to think, ‘In order to progress I need to work harder,’” Fish says. “But what if we don’t need to work harder in order to improve? What if it’s about relaxing into the effort and enjoying the run?”
So how should you splurge? Attend one of these retreats at the beginning of a training cycle to set yourself up for a balanced approach to the season, or book one as a part of a recovery to infuse relaxing time on your feet.
Run Wild Retreats
Run Wild sees mindful running as far more than an airy-fairy concept, instead making it tangible via a specific mindful running curriculum that’s circulated before your trip and executed during your trip through on-trail drills. Afternoon wellness workshops also explore the theory behind mindfulness—not through meditation but rather through thoughtful conversation.
Book it: Moab, Utah (Oct. 24–27, from $1,950), Ireland (Sept. 15–21, from $4,300), runwildretreats.com
Led by professional trail runner Timothy Olson, these retreats always include runs in beautiful settings (the peaks of the Canary Islands, for example) and lessons in how to connect with those around you, nature, and nutrition. Through presentations, hands-on workshops, guided meditations, and daily runs, you’ll go home with a greater understanding of how to run in the now (exploring mountainside trails and their surrounding towns and villages), accept pain, build peace, and mindfully fuel yourself.
Book it: Boulder, Colorado (June 13–16, from $950), Gastein, Austria (Sept. 6–9, from $1,200); adventuremindful.com
Mindful in the Mountains/Leave The Boys Behind Hut-Based Running Retreat
“We aim to elevate the mind, body and soul through nourishing food, mindfulness, and being outside in the mountains,” says Jordie Karlinski of the retreat she owns with her sister, Alex. Picture it: three days exploring trails at 11,300 feet above sea level, amid views of Aspen’s Elk Mountain Range, daily guided meditations, and professionally prepared seasonal, local meals (Alex is a private chef).
Book it: Aspen, Colorado (July 16–18, $975), leavetheboysbehind.com
As much about information, good food, and scenic runs as it is about reflection, on a Rise.Run.Retreat. trip you can expect to connect with like-minded women (something founder Sarah Canney says helps lead to self-discovery and growth) and enjoy solo time, journaling about your experience, perhaps, in a retreat workbook.
“Retreats are about looking at running as a moving meditation and taking the lessons therein and applying them to our life beyond running,” Canney says.
Book it: Moultonborough, New Hampshire (Sept. 6–8), riserunretreat.com