Running retreat, running camp, running vacation – call it what you want, but sign me up.
I’ve always been interested in going to a running retreat but was a little unsure about what it would actually be like. Too intense? Too social? (I’m an introvert!) Too awkward? But after meeting some of the people at Zap Fitness and learning more about their adult running vacation camps in Blowing Rock, NC, I knew I would love it.
The Zap head coach, Pete Rea, and some of the elite athletes spoke at a local Winston-Salem track club event last year. And since then, I’ve bumped into them on the Moses Cone trails while spending time in Boone/Blowing Rock last summer. And that group just started to seem like friends. (One of the Zap Endurance elite runners even wrote a guest post for me here!) So when Pete invited me to come to camp this summer, I said heck yes.
I had a lot of questions for Pete about what camp is like so he shared a typical day in the life. He also suggested I chat with Carrie Tollefson, who has attended camp for many years. I’m a HUGE fan of her podcast, C Tolle Run, so I was thrilled to get to chat with her! Her perspective on camp is below too.
What do you do at a running retreat
This basically sounds like my dream day.
6:30 a.m. – 7:30 a.m. – wake up and light breakfast in ZAP dining room
8:00 a.m. – depart ZAP for run at Moses Cone National Park (this is one of my FAVORITE places to run when we visit Boone!!!)
8:30 – 10:00 a.m. – Following a warm-up, instructional run of 3-9 miles including biomechanical analysis with videotaping, hill running techniques or fartlek session
10:30 a.m. – Yoga or recovery & relaxation time back at ZAP
12:00 p.m. – Lunch in ZAP dining room
1:30 p.m. – Nutrition for Runners seminar
3:00 p.m. – Strength Training for Runners clinic (ZAP Weight Room)
4:00 – 6:30 p.m. – Free time (optional hike at National Park in Blowing Rock, Blowing Rock microbrewery tour, or nap & reading time)
7:00 p.m. – appetizers followed by dinner / ZAP dining Room
8:30 p.m. – ZAP guest speaker or campfire in ZAP field
Day in the Life, FOOD edition
One thing that especially excites me about Zap’s camp is that they have a full-time gourmet chef. He used to be a chef at Artisanal, which is one of the top restaurants in North Carolina, so it’s not typical camp fare. Chef Michael also accommodates dietary restrictions which is so nice to know for those of us who want to eat all the gluten and dairy but can’t eat all the gluten and dairy.
Here’s a sample day of food and some drool-worthy photos.
- Local Camp Coffee Roasters brewed coffee & assorted teas
- Fresh Assorted fruit (bananas, blueberries, strawberries, melon)
- Granola with yogurt
- Oatmeal with assorted sides (cranberries, almonds, brown sugar, walnuts)
- Local bakery bread & bagels with jam, butter, cream cheese, peanut butter, nutella
- Orzo salad with asparagus and roasted broccoli
- Spinach salad with local cucumbers, zucchini & pear slices with balsamic dressing
- Lentils with dill
- Chicken salad with black beans and avocado
- Deli tray with meat, cheese & local bread
- Broiled wild salmon & grilled mahi with dill aioli
- Spaghetti with homemade meatballs, basil and fresh parmesan
- Roasted golden beets with goat cheese
- Black bean salad with diced roasted red peppers, lime and cilantro seasoning
- Corn and orzo risotto with grated parmesan & fresh herbs
- Dessert: Peach cobbler with homemade whipped cream
Q&A with Carrie Tollefson
How did you get involved with Zap Fitness? I met Pete through the running world and we continued to work together after I was done competing. It was just a natural fit for me to come speak at camp and I love it.
What’s your favorite part of Boone/Blowing Rock?
Moses Cone. The trails are so good and it’s so pretty. You can get a flat trail around the lake or get in hills. There are waterfalls. And the views at the top are amazing. It makes for a nice break! (I agree!! I always stop at the top too. 🙂 )
What’s your favorite part about running camp?
I love the small, intimate setting. Everyone comes with a different goal (relaxation, trying to run faster, eat better) but there’s a tightness and you feel like family by the end. And I really love hanging out around the bonfire. Conversations always come back to running, but I learn so much from from people. The age range is usually really broad too – 25-65.
Why should someone go?
It’s one of the best weekends of the year for me. Bring a friend or two. Or, if you’re on your own, it’s an awesome solo vacation. It’s a nice room, super clean, and the food is five star, no joke.
You know your run will be a priority, and even as an Olympic athlete, running now falls 5th or on my priority list with family, career, life. But you get a beautiful run in every day and have some down time. You can go into town or take a nap. You can be as social as you want or have some me-time. It’s just such a relaxing weekend.
Thanks for your insight Carrie!! I’m so excited!! And I love how Carrie mentioned it being a solo vacation. You guys know I LOVE my annual solo vacations and I often hear from people who are intimidated to do that. But, this running camp would be like a solo vacation with guardrails. You can come alone but you don’t have to feel like you’re totally on your own!
Zap has five different adult running camps between June and September, and I’m going to the first one (which Carrie will be at too!). Below are the details for that camp, and this page has details on the other ones. But, if you’re one of my blog readers, I vote you come the weekend when I’m there! 😉
Zap Fitness Summer Camp Kickoff Weekend
- June 27-30
- Cost: $850.00 (my blog readers can use the returning camper registration to save $75!)
- Guest Speaker: Carrie Tollefson (!!!)
- Description: This weekend getaway is a blend of beautiful daily runs along with world-class instruction designed to improve your running, whether you’re a true beginner or a more experienced runner.
- Our daily runs of 3-7 miles each are designed for runners of all ages and abilities. Throughout the weekend, we’ll discuss training for events from the 5k to the marathon, including valuable information on nutrition, strength training, running form, the mental side, as well as give you an individualized video analysis and more.
Have you ever taking a running vacation? Or planned a vacation around a race/running?
I’d love to hear your favorite spot! And if you have any questions about the camp, feel free to shoot me an email – [email protected] 🙂
Note: Zap Fitness is providing my camp experience for free but all my opinions about the camp experience, now and after I attend, are my own!
You might also like:
- Gift Ideas for Runners You Haven’t Heard! This running camp is on that list!! It’d be such a fun gift for your favorite runner for a birthday, Mother’s Day or Father’s Day. But I’d recommend registering now since spots fill up!
- My Boone & Blowing Rock travel guide
- Why I take solo vacations and you should too
- Previous solo vacations – Wilmington, NC / Pinehurst / Carolina Beach
Ready to run?
When you sign up for this newsletter, I'll send you advice for getting started and staying motivated, my favorite running gear, playlists, tips to increase your speed, avoid injuries and more!