If you’ve lost that loving feeling for running, there’s a surefire way to rekindle the flame: camp.
“Putting yourself in an environment where you’re surrounded by other runners, and where you can focus only on your own running, is the perfect place to reenergize your passion,” says Ryan Warrenberg, assistant director of ZAP Fitness, a camp set in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina that appeals to runners of all ages and experience levels. Thanks to its staff of former and current elite runners, a scenic location, and a bevy of workshops on topics like nutrition, ZAP is among the top camps in the U.S., as are McMillian Running, in Flagstaff, Arizona, and Craftsbury Running Camps, in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom.
Here are a couple of others to consider:
Active Altitude, in Estes Park, Colorado, has specialized retreats for trail-running women. Whereas most camps are long-weekend events, Active Altitude dishes up seven to ten days of group runs and lectures. “People learn at a deeper level once they have the chance to practice new techniques, concepts, and ideas on a regular basis,” says Terry Chiplin, camp director. Chiplin says a unique camaraderie, a sense of safety, and a shared inspiration develops at the women’s-only camps, which are offered for participants at two different skill and experience levels: those who can run a 10K at ten minutes a mile or faster (Level 1) and those who can run a half-marathon at ten minutes a mile or faster (Level 2). Active Altitude’s staff has deep experience working with both recreational and Olympic athletes. There are four women’s and two trail-running camps scheduled for 2014. Prices run from $520 to $2,850, depending on camp length and lodging arrangements.
At Camp Marafiki, in Santa Fe, New Mexico, Olympic-level athletes regularly drop in to speak and train with the participants. Along with the experienced coaching staff, top athletes, such as Andrew Musuva, of Kenya (a three-time Twin Cities Marathon champ), and Caroline Rotich, who earned fourth place at the 2011 Boston Marathon, lend their expertise. Last year, Everlyne Lagat, the 2012 Grandma’s Marathon winner and the younger sister of Bernard Lagat, and Peter Koech, former world-record holder and the 1988 Olympic silver medalist in steeplechase, also spoke at the camp. The training itinerary includes twice-daily runs at elevations between 7,000 and 12,000 feet, plus workshops in resistance training, proper recovery, and other topics. In 2014, camp will be held from July 27 to August 3; the fee is anticipated to run $995.
Running camps provide focused training environments that provide a short-term jump-start—but in the long run, it’s each runner for himself. “It’s when they take the extensive knowledge we provide at camp back home and apply it to their regular training that people can realize long-term success and improvements in their race times,” says Warrenberg.