Four years ago, Elinor Fish left her job as a PR maven for Newton Running and other performance sport and destination brands at Backbone Media in Carbondale, Colorado, and went full-on into a business that would not only be her greatest labor of love, but also her life’s work.

Run Wild Retreats + Wellness offers “mindful running and wellness retreats” in some of the world’s most premier trail running destinations — helping runners reduce stress, run better and ultimately live better.

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Using mindful running techniques to cultivate deeper self-compassion, intentional training, confidence and self-care, retreat participants come away with not only renewed motivation and passion for running, but also a commitment to make their well-being a top priority. Apparently, it’s working because the company — building on a long tradition of surf camps and other retreat formats, with a unique focus on trail running — is tripling its offerings next year to eight retreats in five countries. “We’ve expanded our global guide network, operations team and brought on new retreat leaders so that we could offer a greater variety of retreat experiences to more runners,” said Fish.

“Before this program, I try to do everything 100% or I won’t do it at all. Elinor helped me see how running was an analogy for my life,” said Zandra Ross, Prince George, BC. “Now I don’t try to make every run my ‘best’ run, rather, I portion out my energy so that I can run more often but with less mental and physical stress overall. I also am much better prepared for races. Now, I don’t pressure myself like before to make magic every time I lace up my shoes. Running isn’t so much like a job anymore. I am more compassionate with myself.”

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“Many of the runners who come on our retreats are suffering the effects of stress, but find it nearly impossible to sit on a cushion and meditate for even 5 minutes. These women are doctors, executives, engineers, police captains, entrepreneurs, parents and are accustomed to leading very past-paced lives. Some are suffering stress-related illnesses,” said Fish. “They don’t just like to run–they need to run.” Participants learn in the pre-retreat lessons and then put into practice during the retreat is called the Mindful Running Training System.

“But when they run too much, or the stress overwhelms them, or some other obstacles arises, running starts to feel hard, or contributes to their already overloaded system. So rather than making the running and meditation separate activities, the retreat is centered around how to make running a mindfulness practice for the purpose of reducing stress and elevating health,” she explained. “Then over the course of the retreat, we explore the various ways for making running a mindfulness practice, such as deep (full-lung), rhythmic breathing to increase blood oxygen and activate the parasympathetic nervous system (integral to the relaxation response, opposite to the stress response); relaxation of the muscles to allow flow during movement and the release of physical tension, especially in the shoulders and neck; the practice self compassion, how to listen to your body’s feedback rather than judge or beat yourself up if you fall short of your expectations or standards; stillness; intention setting; and courage.”

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“The bottom line is that while much everyone can benefit from mindfulness, for people accustomed to being very physically active, mindful running is a powerful, experiential way to start bringing more mindfulness into an otherwise jam-packed, fast-paced lifestyle.”

The first three retreats on the 2017 roster include:

The Costa Brava Running + Wellness Retreat in Catalonia, Spain, takes place April 22 – 28, 2017. The retreat begins in the historic walled city of Girona and then head north along the Mediterranean Sea towards the Pyrenees. Guests run between charming fishing villages, along sea cliffs and on golden sandy beaches. After running the first part of each day, runners refuel at seaside patios, indulging in local wine, sangria and gourmet Catalan cuisine.

For the first time, the popular Moab Mindful Running Retreat, named one of the “Best Running Camps in the U.S.” for women, will be offered in spring as well as fall. Taking place March 30 – April 2, 2017, this retreat is a four-day immersion in the mindful running experience in a serene desert environment that includes restorative yoga classes and natural running form clinics.

The third annual Iceland Trail Running + Wellness Retreat for women, Run Wild Retreats + Wellness’s most popular retreat, is set for August 7 – 13, 2017. Starting and ending the capitol city of Reykjavik, runners enjoy massive waterfalls and sea-cliff trails along the southern coast and the world’s most beautiful black-sand beach, Reynisfjara. Then we head into Þórsmörk, or the “Land of Thor,” a deep river valley surrounded by massive volcanic glaciers, home to some of the best trail running in Iceland.

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