“Mommy, why are you planning a get-away for runners?” my 7-year-old son asked me the other day.
Without hesitation, I replied, “because it’s fun and I love it”.
“Oh, Ok”, he responded with a smile and walked away.
For him, this simple answer was enough. But for me, it left me pondering a bit more. Why do I do it? Certainly there’s more to the answer, isn’t there? After all, if you looked at the amount of time I invest preparing for this event, and consider the fact that I usually just cover my costs, it certainly doesn’t make sense from a business perspective.
So I started to think a bit more about the retreats from the past two years. Almost immediately, I can visualize the stunning trails we ran on, smell the fresh scent that lingered in the air, taste the nourishing and delicious foods we devoured and feel the coziness of the rustic and charming lodge where we stayed.
But then after taking a pause, I realize there’s more to it. In fact, the memory that lingers the most is the group dynamic and cohesiveness that seemed to naturally evolve over the weekend.
It’s not to say that the discussions, workshops and run sessions didn’t leave a lasting impression. Who doesn’t have fun exploring new trails, identifying new ways to train better, perfecting one’s technique and simply escaping from the daily grind? After all, these elements are what brought people together in the first place, and I think its safe to say that we all felt quite fulfilled.
But with each retreat, I was blown away by the human interaction that occurred as a result of bringing together 20 people in a shared space. Generally speaking, you either get good group dynamics or you don’t. Sometimes it’s luck of the draw, and sometimes it’s not. With my retreats, I think that the positive group dynamics was inevitable, even though the majority of the group didn’t know each other and that the participants ranged in ages, sex and level of experience. Despite such differences, we all shared a common passion: trail running. For some, the retreat gave them a “reboot” and rekindled their long lost love with trail running. For others, the weekend sparked a new interest and gave them the confidence to make trail running part of their regular routine. And for others, it was somewhere in between. But together, we all shared the desire to bond with nature and to explore the trails. And from this, a sense of community evolved. Listening to the chatter that took place during the runs, you’d think that everyone was old friends. The generous cheering and high fives that were exchanged when practicing our running drills made everyone feel part of the group. The sharing of lessons learned and helpful tips was invaluable (and by the end of the weekend, the nature of the tips became more intimate—guys, did you know that you could put clear nail polish on your nipples to prevent chafing?). And by the end of the weekend, new friendships were formed, new running partners were found and new trails were discovered.
Upon further reflection, I also realized that a big reason why I invest so much energy on the retreats, as well as my one-day clinics for that matter, is that I simply love helping others find their groove with exercising. I love helping runners gain confidence on the trails, and discussing ways to further enhance their training. I enjoy promoting the notion that exercise should be an inherent part of one’s lifestyle, and not simply an add-on. And finally, I’m grateful that I can help inspire others—and I’m even more appreciative of the fact that they in turn, totally inspire myself.
Bringing people together. Creating a sense of community. Helping and inspiring each other. Learning new ways to train etc. There are many reasons to explain why I do what I do. But then again, perhaps the simple answer is enough. I do it because it’s fun and I love it. And I can’t wait for the next one on October 21-23rd! Hope to see you there.