Sure, it’s validating to achieve a goal or hit a milestone like running your first sub 40-minute 5K. But those moments don’t occur that often. And the more years you run, the harder it is to continue improving.

But does running make you happy? Relaxed? Fulfilled? Empowered? When you look beyond running for achievement and run for happiness, you uncover a whole other set of benefits to your wellbeing that have little to do with how fast or far you run. These less quantifiable—yet infinitely more rewarding—qualities of running are the focus of everything we do here. We believe that enjoyment is the antidote to many runners’ struggles today.

More than ever, our society is chronically stressed, crazy busy and teetering on the edge of burnout. Our culture celebrates the constant pursuit of more and better and disparages idleness and relaxation. Running presents you with the means to endlessly pursue new goals, which is admirable. The problem lies in what you may sacrifice in their pursuit. When your focus is on future outcomes, it’s easy to miss what’s depleting your wellness today. That’s why so many runners miss the early warning signs of burnout, overtraining and injury.

So the signs become louder and more severe until you’re forced to listen and to allow your body to heal. This process of listening to your body, or your “inner coach,” as we like to call it, is at the heart of everything we do at Run Wild Retreats + Wellness. We believe that running mindfully is the process through which we cultivate confidence, self-awareness, self-compassion and healthy habits.

Mindful running builds the foundation of health upon which you can then build fitness.

You don’t need to have a certain level of running experience to get started. Everyone from beginner runners to seasoned veterans can start to apply mindfulness principles to their current running routine, even if it lacks structure or consistency.

What you get from learning to run mindfully is very individual and specific to your current challenges and values. But rest assured that the benefits of mindful running are very real and impactful.

Take Lori for example, a mom and emergency-room doctor from Iowa whose half-marathon training was floundering. She could barely run 4 miles before becoming exhausted. The thought of getting up early on Sunday for a long run made her want to pull the covers over her sleep-deprived head.

At first, Lori berated herself for being lazy. An ambitious professional accustomed to hard work, she’d push through the fatigue, figuring her problem was all in her mind. She questioned her commitment to running and criticized her inability to find a solution. Such self-doubt further eroded her motivation. Constantly tired, she relied on caffeine to get her through her long hospital shifts and sugar to fuel her workouts.

However, once Lori started running mindfully, she recognized the fatigue as her body’s way of demanding real rest. She adapted her training routine to accommodate more recovery between workouts. With rest, her energy rebounded, motivation grew and running felt good again. “I once again enjoy running for the purpose of running rather than as a job,” says Lori. “Running has become a way to escape the other stresses of life and I feel strong, relaxed and refreshed!”

Or consider Jenna, a marathon runner who, in her later 30’s, was more in love with running than ever and pursuing more ambitious goals. The corporate executive, however, was unaware at first at how daily work-related stress was affecting her ability to recover physically from her longer, harder workouts.

“I experienced several health ups and downs (panic attacks, gastro issues, random rashes …) until I learned that because my days off from training were stress-filled days at the office, my body wasn’t ever recovering,” says Jenna. “It was an epiphany! According to this logic, I’d not had a day off in two years.”Just like Lori and Jenna, you deserve a running practice that makes your body strong, keeps you healthy, energized and motivated.

Running shouldn’t be something you only enjoy when you’re perfectly healthy, rather, running can be the means through which become your healthiest self.

The runners we meet through our retreats and online community are dealing not only with stress, burnout, running injury and low motivation, but also chronic health issues and physical and lifestyle limitations to their running.

This is where they can re-frame these apparent “obstacles” into opportunities to create their own definition of what it means to be a healthy runner.