Running is often a solitary activity. Whether you're training or simply trying to recover from the stresses of your daily life, getting out on the open road with an iPod full of your favorite tunes is a great way to get in some "me time".
That said, if you are a frequent runner or you tend to go long distances (or both), you may find yourself battling boredom at some point. When you've virtually mastered form and pacing and you've hit a plateau, motivating yourself to continue can become difficult, even though you know you feel fantastic every time you run.
What's the solution? Running camps. You can kill two birds with one stone by spending a weekend or longer at a camp that caters specifically to runners looking to mix it up. Not only will you get to exercise with like-minded athletes and gain a boost from the competition, but these camps help you to set goals, create a plan, and learn new techniques to improve.
Of course, there are dozens of great running camps to choose from in the U.S. alone. Which ones are the best? It may depend somewhat on your goals, your skill level, and your budget, but here are a few of the most amazing running camps for your consideration.
So named because it is in Craftsbury, Vermont, this running camp (which offers both weekend and week-long retreats) offers a great first experience for anyone interested in seeing what it's all about. Whether you're a seasoned runner or a relative newbie, there are courses for all skill levels, planned daily runs, and educational seminars and track sessions designed to teach you the basics of form, pacing, and more. There's also downtime to hike, bike, swim, or do yoga, and you'll enjoy the prevailing feeling of escaping to an outdoorsy summer camp for adults.
McMillanis a name familiar to many runners, thanks to training programs and the McMillan running calculator, and when you head to Flagstaff, Arizona for this camp from distance running coach and author Greg McMillan, you'll get the McMillan touch. The man oversees all activities, which includes clinics, form analysis, and actual runs, and every participant gets personal attention from trained coaches, or even McMillan himself. All levels of runners are welcome.
This camp, as you may have guessed, is co-sponsored by experiential travel company Eleven Experience and running brand Salomon, and it takes place in gorgeous and scenic Crested Butte, Colorado. You'll spend three days in comfort and class at a high-end lodge and enjoy workshops that include gait analysis and nutrition advice, not to mention challenging trail runs that will please all types of runners (adventure, tri-athlete, and ultra alike). As long as you can run six miles, you can participate.
This Greenville, South Carolina retreat was designed with serious runners in mind. The camp was conceived by coaches and physiologists at the Furman Institute of Running and Scientific Training (FIRST), and the goal is not so much to hit the road as it is to perform a scientific personal analysis in order to determine the best ways to improve performance through targeted training, proper nutrition, and even psychology.
This one is not for the faint of heart, as it is geared toward runners looking to log beau coup miles. If you're an endurance runner that has gone beyond marathons and is looking to train for a new challenge, this camp in Juneau, Alaska provides with five days in the stunning, northern wilderness, in which participants are likely to cover somewhere in the neighborhood of 50-60 miles of ground, including steep, mountain trails. If an ultramarathon is in your future, you won't find a better camp to train for it.
Another option for ultra lovers, this 3-day camp in Jackson Hole, WY is offered by renowned running coach and guru Eric Orton. Camps are small, with only 8-10 participants, and this is intended to ensure that every runner receives personal attention and mentoring. Orton provides tips designed to increase awareness and help every runner perform better through strength, form, and balance.