Run Wild Retreats is a Colorado-based tour company specializing in running-based travel experiences that support women’s overall health and well-being. Set in some of the world’s most inspiring outdoor recreation destinations, the four- to 10-day itineraries feature time in nature and wellness activities including yoga, hot springs and spa experiences. We spoke with founder Elinor Fish about her tour company plus how she works wellness into her personal life.
1. How long have you been with Run Wild Retreats, and what is your role?
I founded Run Wild Retreats + Wellness in 2010 as a side hustle to my full-time job as editor of a running magazine based in Colorado. Over the years, the business has steadily grown and evolved from a one-woman operation to a IATA-accredited, award-winning tour operator employing seven women leading running tours in 10 countries.
Photo courtesy of Run Wild Retreats
I founded Run Wild Retreats + Wellness in 2010 as a side hustle to my full-time job as editor of a running magazine based in Colorado. Over the years, the business has steadily grown and evolved from a one-woman operation to a IATA-accredited, award-winning tour operator employing seven women leading retreats in 10 countries.
2. What makes traveling with Run Wild Retreats different from a regular running tour?
Running tours generally focus primarily on running every day while seeing as much as possible of a destination, which certainly can be great fun. But at Run Wild Retreats, we approach the runs as a means to connect with others and oneself. That’s why we center our programs around mindful running and incorporate time on the trail for running clinics and off the trail, time for group sharing circles, private journaling and self-care. Travel can be a powerful mechanism for transformation and personal growth, but that can only happen when travelers are purposeful in how they spend their time and where they place their attention. That’s why we put some much attention onto our pre-retreat communications with clients, helping them prepare for their retreat not just in terms of what to bring and how to get there, but also, how to set an intention and ponder what they want to get from the retreat.
Photo courtesy of Run Wild Retreats
3. What running tours do you have coming up that might be of interest to the readers of Travel to Wellness?
We’re really excited about the Mediterranean Mindful Running Retreat we have taking place April and May of 2023. This seven-day itinerary starts in Girona, an ancient city in Catalonia just north of Barcelona, Spain, and involves running north along the Mediterranean Sea. Along the way, we stay in charming historic boutique hotels and eat incredible food. We visit Medieval castles and villages and historic sites, soaking in local heritage and culture, and brought to life by our charming Catalan running guides. Throughout the week, the women have space to relax, unwind, tune in and rediscover what their bodies and hearts are craving right now. They can ponder their values and priorities and possibly see things with a fresh perspective. Six reasons to book a city running tour
4. How do you incorporate wellness into your own daily life?
Running has always been a part of my wellness routine, though it’s changed now that I’m in my 40s. While I no longer run ultramarathons, I combine short runs in nature with yoga classes throughout the week. These physical practices give me the quiet time I crave to get mindful and present, especially since I find it really hard to sit on a meditation cushion and be still for any amount of time.
5. What are the top wellness trends you see active people embrace right now?
I think that work being done around breath work is greatly beneficial for runners in particular. Having the awareness and understanding of the power of breath control to regulate the stress response is a powerful wellness practice that I think we all could benefit from. A breath practice also helps runners be more efficient and manage their pace more evenly, avoiding the tendency to start a run too fast or push too hard until they tire out. At our retreats, we demonstrate how mindful breathing can help runners relax and maybe even reach a “flow state,” or that magical pace that feels incredibly strong and effortless at the same time.
6. Is technology important as it pertains to wellness?
I believe that technology helps people everywhere do more things and do many things better. And like anything that powerful, we have a responsibility to use it wisely. Once all of our guests arrive at the retreat destination, we encourage them to rely less on their devices–both on and off the trail–in order to have a more mindful retreat. Without the distraction of phone notifications and GPS watches, we see the women on our retreats connect with each other more easily and just be more present with the group, which makes it more pleasant for everyone.
7. How do you incorporate the local community or culture into your running tours?
In most destinations, we work with professional guides who live in the places we run. Those guides not only lead us on the trails, but share their culture, local knowledge, language and history as we run. For example, in Spain, one of our favorite guides, Pablo, tells us about the city of Girona’s Medieval city walls, cobblestone streets and cathedrals that had been built and rebuilt over millennia by Greeks, Romans and Arabs. Those history lessons gave so much more meaning to our luxurious spa experience later at a 2,000-year old enclave built by the ancient Romans.
And in the Nepal Trail Running and Wellness Retreat, our guide is Mira Rai, a Nepalese woman who went from being a child soldier to National Geographic Adventurer for her incredible success as a champion ultrarunner on the world stage. Not only do we get to run with Mira, but a portion of each tour program sold supports her non-profit, the Mira Rai Initiative, designed to empower young women in Nepal through running.