Elinor Fish running above the Grey Glacier while on a running tour of the Torres del Paine circuit in Patagonia, Chile.

Does going on a running retreat sound like something you’d love to do, but consider it a luxury or self-indulgent?

When there’s so much get done, deadlines to meet and people depending on you, leaving it all behind for a week to run along beaches and in the mountains of Iceland probably sounds like a pipe dream.

Yet, you also know that a week away would do you so much good right now. You fantasize about how it would feel to look after only yourself, forget everyday worries and spend you days in the fresh sea air and warm sunshine.

Perhaps there’s a gaping chasm between where your current level of fitness and health and where you want it to be. Perhaps the amount of work it would take to become the runner you want to be feels overwhelming.

It doesn’t have to.

I blame this hard-working, productivity-focused culture for making you feel guilty for putting your self-care first.

Is it any wonder that 90% of all visits to primary care physicians is for stress-related conditions? Chances are you’re not even aware of just how profoundly stress is impacting your health.

Now, as a runner, you know how vital it is at keeping you happy and healthy.

But when you’re caught up in the throes of daily stress, a regular running practice becomes harder to maintain. That’s where a running retreat can be your opportunity to realign your routine you’re your values and goals.

Your running isn’t just a good workout, it’s vital to your ability to show up for the people in your life. That’s why I call running “a non-negotiable.” It’s not only something you enjoy doing, rather, it’s essential to your well-being.

When you are full of positivity and energy, you are way more effective in all areas of your life. For this reason, running is one of the least selfish things you do.

Make 2016 the year that you place your health and happiness at the top of your priority list. A running retreat offers everything you need to run well and be well this year and beyond.

So in asking yourself, “Should I go on a running retreat?” I offer you some answers that reveal what you can expect to gain:

1. You find solutions to running issues that have kept you stuck for far too long.

Under the leadership and guidance of a running expert, you have a week to ask and find solutions for all the various things you’ve always wanted to know, but weren’t sure who to ask. Big or small, all these issues matter because they’re holding you back from being the runner you want to be.

While on a running retreat, you find you’re not the only one wondering how to run uphill without getting totally winded. And by the retreat’s end, you’re floating up inclines with ease.

2. You get a new perspective.

Discovering your true potential doesn’t necessarily require pushing yourself to the limit of your strength and endurance. Sometimes all it takes is being in a new place and accepting the opportunity to try something a little outside your norm.

At a running retreat, this may mean running along beaches and ancient cobblestone streets, going a little further than normal, running to a mountain top or traveling on foot from village to village. In the supportive atmosphere of a well-supported retreat, you discover your ability to do more than you ever believed you could.

3. You take really good care of yourself.

After each morning’s run, there’s no one else you need to take care of except yourself. You are free to do your favorite habits, rituals and practices that help you recover well and feel good the rest of the day. Whether it’s a long bath, relaxed stretching, a celebratory drink on a patio overlooking the ocean or a quiet nap, the choice (and opportunity) are yours.

4. You relax and de-stress

The key to truly unwinding while traveling is giving yourself permission to slow down. There’s no better opportunity to do that than on a running retreat. Unlike a holiday centered doing as much sightseeing as possible, a running retreat is about two things: a sublime running experience and de-stressing.

Your time is yours and isn’t over-scheduled to cram as much as possible into a short week.

5. You eat outstanding food without having to do any of the work.

Have you ever finished a gratifying run, but then skimped on the work of preparing a nourishing post-run meal? Yeah, we’ve all been there. While on a running retreat, however, good food is abundant and always available right there when you need it.

Nothings beats a complete meal using freshly prepared, locally procured ingredients you can not only relish for its flavor, but feel good knowing its packed with the nutrients and vitamins your body needs to recover well and fuel you for the days to come.

6. You find your tribe.

On the surface, running resembles a solo activity, but when runners get together, great things happen. On a running retreat, you find your tribe. Belonging to a community of runners who share your values, your interest in growing and improving through running is central to your longevity as a runner.

Obstacles such as injuries, which can seem insurmountable, are not to devastating when you share your experience with a runner who’s overcome similar obstacles. Not only that, but a running retreat’s camaraderie continues long after everyone returns home.

7. You return home refreshed and motivated.

When your motivation for running wanes, the culprit may simply be boredom. Your running routine no longer stimulates you, excites you or challenges you in meaningful ways. A running retreat introduces you to new ways of approaching training, goal setting and how running can enrich your life in ways you perhaps haven’t yet discovered.

8. You become stronger running consecutive days.

What makes running back-to-back days at home exhausting isn’t so much the frequency of the runs, but rather, your limited opportunity to rest and recover between each run.

While on a running retreat, however, you feel stronger and better as each day passes because of how well you’re able to take care of yourself. Not to mention the natural high that comes with traveling and exploring a new place with a great group of people.

9. You feel more productive than on a vacation.

For most people, the key to de-stressing while on vacation is by doing less. The problem with this concept is that it’s really uncomfortable for active, hard-charging people (like most runners I know) to transition from their go, go, go regular life to sitting idly by a pool. It takes most people at least a week to unwind and start to relax into a slower pace.

A running retreat no only satisfies your itch to move your body, it is also intellectually stimulating as you learn how to run better and design a sustainable running practice that will serve you long after the retreat is over.

For all these reasons and more, a running is more than a vacation. It’s an investment in your self, your well being and your happiness.

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