How a running retreat provided a fresh start this small business owner needed to recover her health
By guest blogger, Amy Mangueira
In November 2021, I was at a breaking point. I had worked over 85 hours per week, was always “on” for my clients and my life's number one joy--running--had fallen to the wayside as I tackled the day-to-day demands of owning a digital email marketing agency. My health suffered, too. My doctor informed me that my body had unhealthy amounts of inflammation, with white-blood cell counts through the roof.
It was time to start to make the game plan to make some significant changes in my life or my health was going to continue to decline. First step: find some space to reset.
Searching for running retreats that married my love for running with the promise to disconnect, I stumbled upon the website for Run Wild Retreats. Run Wild Retreats seemed to offer everything I was looking for and more, with most of the locations being serene, beautiful adventures. After a few hours of contemplating, I decided on the Ireland Trail Running + Wellness Retreats the following September. This was the first step in finding myself again!
In the months before the Ireland retreat, my health only worsened from stress. I finally made a decision in June, after losing the hearing in my left ear, to sell my digital agency that fall, which allowed me to start reducing my workload significantly in August. I looked forward to the September retreat as a much-needed opportunity to restore my health and sanity, while discovering who I wanted to be in this new chapter of life.
The Start of Something New
By the Ireland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat's start, I was deep in my burnout's aftermath. I suffered daily anxiety attacks and frequent nightmares. I was nervous about leaving my husband for seven days, and here we were, boarding a plane to Ireland where we would part ways--me heading to the Run Wild Retreat and him to a golf trip with friends.
I told myself that this retreat would be the life-changing that I needed to come home feeling restored. So I packed my stuff up, made my way to our meeting point in downtown Dublin that the and put on my brave “I can do this” face.
As soon as I entered the historic Beresford Hotel, I recognized my fellow runners by their telltale apparel. One of the women asked me if I was with Run Wild, and invited me to join her in waiting for the group. I instantly started feeling better and more relaxed.
A few minutes later, a beautiful smile entered through the door and I met our retreat leader, Liz Arnold, for the first time. There was something about the aura that Liz exuded that made me feel safe, secure and calm. I was so grateful at that very moment that I decided to join this experience.
It was just 10 minutes into the retreat and my expectations were already met. As more ladies rolled in, I felt more and more comfortable. We shared this automatic feeling that we’d known each other for years due to our connection through running. It was amazing! We boarded the bus and the rest was simply a dream.
Over the course of the week-long retreat, so much changed for me personally. My confidence as a runner restored, I dug up old running goals I had chased prior to being suffocated by work. Maybe I could actually achieve my Boston Marathon qualifying time!
Time slowed way down. Even though we were running for hours, then packing up to move on to another location, being off the grid, deeply immersed in long hours of silence outside on trail made my world feel like it had slowed down in the most magnificent way. I was able to be present for the first time in years.
My senses were totally engaged. I could smell things like I never had before, breathe so much better amongst the trees, and really feel at peace seeing the sheep and wildlife living their lives. Not to mention our Irish running guide’s bits of philosophical wisdom that left me in deep reflection for long periods of time. Incredible. I also shared some deep moments with some women on trail. While I was there to recover and restore, many of the other ladies had also come to find solace from their experiences. It was healing to listen to others, connect and feel supported.
As the retreat's end neared, I sat with Liz in the lobby, crying, telling her "thank you!" for everything she has done to make this retreat possible. At that point I had not had any nightmares, I was sleeping well and I was starting to feel like myself. What miracles can happen when you set out on a healing adventure with a like-minded group of women!