A dream running weekend?
My perfect weekend includes good food, nice scenery, a comfy bed, fresh air, good company and a chance to run and explore somewhere new. Surely if that’s my ideal, there must be more people who would fancy the same escape. For about 2 years now I have been talking about creating a weekend for runners – recreational runners – people who have busy lives, families, crazy jobs and who struggle to prioritise their own running amongst everything else that is going on. Finally, it all came together. Last weekend, my first ForgetTheGym Running Retreat took place, a getaway running weekend to the west coast of Ireland, based out of the remote Cliffs of Moher.
Getting there a day early I had a chance to explore the area, map out some routes, get comfortable and await the arrival of the 8 lucky people who were to be my first ‘guinea pigs’. I won’t lie, I was apprehensive. The west of Ireland is particularly dramatic in its weather, and I knew it could make a huge difference to the weekend.
Thankfully there were no such dramatics. As I waited for everyone to arrive on Friday afternoon from the comfort of the luxurious Cliffs of Moher Retreat , the sun shone down on Co Clare.
Welcome to the weekend
Welcomed to tea and scones, our gang settled into their rooms and swiftly left the stress of the city and work behind them. By 5pm, we were all sitting around an empty plate of scones as I explained to them what lay ahead for the weekend. The aim of the weekend was to give people a chance to relax, enjoy running in a new environment, learn more about chirunning technique, motivation, nutrition, goal setting and planning while meeting other runners and enjoying the hospitality of west Clare.
Leaving the stress of the city behind
On Friday we would do a gentle run around the area, show them our local coastal path and loosen up the legs after the 3 hour drive. After that, the scary bit, I would video each of them running, so that later in the weekend we would be able to analyse their running technique and give tips for injury prevention and improving their running. After dinner, we would chat about chirunning, and how to make running that little bit easier. That would be plenty for the first evening – as we had a busy day ahead tomorrow.
Gourmet Vegetarian Food
Speaking of food, we were blessed with vegetarian culinary delights of Pavel, our chef for the weekend. I have been on lot of yoga retreats where the food has been more of a penance than a treat, but were we in for a lovely surprise. This was just great, soups, salads, frittatas, curries, and even raw chocolate cake. It’s a good job we would be running or we would have to be rolled home!
Into the west, a run along the Cliff Path
Saturday morning was our adventure to the Cliffs of Moher. From Hags Head we ran the 4kms along the cliff path to the visitors centre. It was only after 3km that we met the first person on the trail. How lucky were we to have this scenery all to ourselves. Taking photo breaks and pit stops along the way, 4km felt very short, which was good, as they all had to run back too. Not until after our ice cream break to the amusement of the tourists at the visitors centre who were just after breakfast!
Back along the trail and some of the gang even managed to ‘enjoy’ some exercises along the way.
Others practiced their newly learnt hill running techniques and posture tips, but to be honest there were so many photos to take, Im not sure anyone was concentrating on running!
Back home to the yoga studio for a nice relaxing stretching session. What a productive morning!
Rest and Relaxation
After another nutritious yet gourmet lunch, I gave them all a bit of time out – a break from the running – and talking about running – and an afternoon to escape, chill out, visit Lahinch, or have a little siesta. I wanted them all to be fresh for the evening session.
After a little chocolate bribery from the tourist shops in Lahinch, to stop me playing their lovely running videos, we had a great evening of running technique, recovery strategies, foam rollers, leg drains and the ever anticipated ‘movie night’ by the fire. I knew they would all enjoy it in the end. It is so valuable to see yourself on video running. For all my Chirunning students, once they can see how they are moving, it is a lot easier to apply the changes.
Bringing it all together
Out of nowhere it rained all night Saturday, the forecast for Sunday was not much better, so I was prepared to see nothing but fog on Sunday morning. Lucky us, the rain had passed up the country and we were left with a bright yet cloudy sky for our final morning. Better than expected – I would be able to maximise the fresh air. After breakfast we sat around and discussed training plans, goal setting and structuring a summer strategy for running -we discussed nutrition, overtraining, motivation and more. One of the most valuable parts of the weekend is what we all learnt from each others running experiences. Next up was a short strength training session – what to do in 5 minutes to maximise your strength as a runner. (I wonder have they done it every day since like they promised?)
Learning from each other
Some of the group had more miles in their legs than others, we had a few who were just approaching their first 5k and others who have completed half marathons, but there was such a level of camaraderie that no one was ever left behind. My aim is to take the level of competition out of running and enjoy the fact that we are in a position to get out, enjoy the fact we can run and take the pressure and anxiety of race times and nerves out of the weekend.
Last bit of fresh air
Before our last supper/lunch (which had the yummy raw chocolate cake), the group headed off on their final run, this time I tried to include a bit of everything, hills, technique, cadence, posture, relaxation, scenery, laughs and even some sunshine.
Thank you everyone for making the trip so enjoyable and such a success.
Such a success in fact, we will go back again for More Holidays in Cliffs of Moher