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5 Lessons Learned from our 2023 Winter Running Retreat

by RunnersConnect: Coaching Community, Running Experts, Inspiring Runners, No Fluff Blog
March 3rd 2023
Hello fellow runners, I'm your host, Finn Melanson and this is the run to the top podcast, the podcast dedicated to making you a better runner with each and every episode. We are created and produced by the expert team of coaches at runners connect dot net where you can find the best running information on the internet as well as training plans to fit every runner and every budget while you might not have been able to join us in person for our first in person retreat of 2023 coach Andy and coach Michael talk in depth about some of the biggest lessons both our attendees and coaches experienced over the four day weekend. You'll learn why you're not as slow as you think, how your form is better than you realize that you're not weird if you love running okay, maybe a little how not to underestimate yourself and why connection and camaraderie have greater impact than we expect along the way. They'll discuss super shoes, the marathon trials, usa TF scandals and more.

This is a fun conversation and inside peek at what our running retreats are like. You're gonna love it and learn a lot. If you're looking for one of the best ways to increase focus and performance during your long runs and workouts. You'll love perform from the amino company. I'll tell you more about them later in this episode or you can check out the research at amino co dot com backslash. R T T T if you're someone who struggles to relax and get to sleep at night. I can't wait to tell you more about one of our favorite brands ned in their new shuteye chai it's a mellow super blend latte for sleep that combines adaptive jin's amine owes functional mushrooms and magnesium to help calm your central nervous system and improve your sleep. I'll tell you more about them later in this episode but if you want to learn more now head to hello ned dot com backslash R. T. T. T. Hey guys, welcome to the runners, connect coach chat, coach Michael Hammond here, I'm here with Coach Andy Cottarelli. We are just going to hop into some topics here.

Talk about the runners connect running retreat that we just did in Orlando are big winter running retreat. We'll talk about the recap of that then we're gonna talk about some future retreats. Really exciting one coming next year 2020 for it's gonna coincide with the olympic marathon trials which is gonna be really sweet and then Andy and I are gonna share five big lessons that we have learned from the retreats. We've done a lot of them at this point and we have a lot that we want to share about you guys. I think so often it's kinda everybody feels kind of isolated and doesn't understand like what other people go through, go into these retreats like what other people experience. So we want to kind of like bring bring some light on it a little bit behind the scenes stuff too. Um And we're gonna have a little bit of fun with it too. So let's talk about this year's Andy this year's retreat. You know, you guys just finished this a couple of weeks ago down in Orlando as you and coach, Jeff Gaudette, our founder talked to me about it. What went well, what what were some difficulties? Just talk to me about the retreat? Yeah, So it was, I think a smaller group than what has been in the past. I think years passed before the pandemic. We had maybe a little bit bigger group, but this it was a nice, it was a nice group and um you know, we had some different people from different areas, you know, this is probably the first time getting in some some heat, some training and some heat this year.

So it was, we had a couple of days that was a little getting a little warm and humid, but I think everybody had a good time. I think a lot of people learned a lot of stuff. We had a different, you know, a lot of different people there from different backgrounds, a lot of different, you know? Um Well, it was funny when we first got there, we did the little introductions, getting to know people and Jeff had everyone do you know, quick fun fact and there was actually some really interesting stuff that came out of it. We had one runner who does a lot of she in in movies and stuff like that. She goes and does the extra rolls and so she was talking about that, which was a really cool thing. But yeah, it's fun to just kind of hear these, you know, about the runners themselves and these and where they came from and how they got started. And then also just hear these little snippets about them as people. And I think it just kind of, you know, creates a really nice connection. So yeah, it went well. We think the biggest challenge is, you know, it was kind of we had some rain often on and we were really excited about going out to the clay loop, you've been to Orlando and the running scene, there's a clay loop, which is now just kind of an out and back, I think where it's just on this like red clay and it's super nice to run on.

It was really pretty out there. It doesn't, you don't feel like you're in Orlando, but we had, we couldn't go out there when it was raining because it would be a little bit wet, a little slippery, so we were moving some stuff like that around, but you know, otherwise we had we had a good time. So you talked about like the introductions, it's always funny when you start those off because you see everybody squirm a little bit because they're like, it's kind of like doing icebreakers again, like you did at high school, you know, summer camp or something and it's for a lot of these people, you know, maybe they've done stuff like this at work or like work retreats and stuff. But for a lot of people, it's like the first time they've done something like that since they were kids in a way and it's really funny. Yeah, kind of seeing people squirrel, we've tried different things and ultimately, I think what we're, you know, I've worked a lot of like high school camps in the past and you can't just do like a fun fact, it's too boring, it's too dull. I've done like little games where like they have to like throw a bottle to each other and you, you throw it to a person and like whoever it is, you have to say their name before it gets to them.

Just a way for people to like learn people's names, you know, funny little stuff like that. But we've definitely learned with the adults like you just got to let them kinda let them go for it and let and let them share a little bit thankfully you you'll get the people, I'm sure you, it was like this in Orlando to, some people are really shy. Some people are just like an open book and are just ready and willing to share every fact of their life, you know, like I'm sure you all found that in in Orlando this year as well and I always feel like that the fun fact question for me and I love to talk like I could talk all day, but that I always like, I don't really have any things that are like really fun, like really interesting about myself, so that I'm always like trying to think and I would go second and I'm like, I don't have time to really think of something good, but it's kind of fun when somebody shares something super interesting against people's minds working a little bit and you get to hear a little bit more insight and that was kind of what it felt like and I think with the group being a little bit smaller, it felt like more easy to just kind of like spill, say what you want to say, so exactly, just, just kind of be willing be ready to just say whatever.

I think that that's what you're right, you need that one person who kind of like shares and and is a little bit more outgoing with it and then everybody else is like okay, it's kind of like nobody wants to go first, you need, you need the person who goes first to be a little bit more a little bit more outgoing, but it's just funny to see people and again, I'm not saying I'm like totally easily comfortable with it, but it's funny to see people who are in their like forties, fifties, sixties, even seventies who like I said, you know that they've just never they haven't faced something like this in such a long, long time and you see, like kind of the nerves build up, but then, but on the flip side, I remember we had a camp that I'm trying to remember which one it was, but we had like flight delays and stuff, things went crazy and we weren't really able to do that sort of first night thing, like everything got so messed up that we weren't able to do it and people were kind of upset about it. Like people were kind of disappointed there, like, you know, I kind of had to learn people's names and their stories through like just the runs, thankfully it was a smaller camp, so it was a little bit easier, but for the bigger camps it's always been a lot easier.

You know, I'm thinking about this Andy while we're talking about it, I'm thinking about like, the people listening that are just like, what the heck are these guys talking about, like, a running retreat? That's that's weird, like basically what we do, what we do is it's an idea that, you know, Jeff had this idea a long time ago that that we could do get people together because we're an online community, you know, we have training plans and we have a bunch of athletes that train with us online, but there's nothing quite like getting together in person, we'll talk about this more later in this podcast, but there's nothing quite like getting together in person. And the idea was that let's bring people together. Let's have, let's do like runs together, let's do some training together. But also let's do training topics. Let's, let's learn and have an opportunity to, for you guys to, who come to learn as well as just to kind of get together and have some fun. So we've hosted these and we used to have some in blowing rock north Carolina. Those were a lot of fun that the facility that was there got sold. So we can't, we don't use that anymore. But um, we've done them now in Orlando, Flagstaff san Diego. Uh, we just did new Hampshire back in the fall and you know, we, we've done, I'm trying remember this one of the location I'm missing, but, but we've done a lot of different locations.

There are a lot of fun. The biggest, I think um, benefit of the winter one is that we get a lot of like Northeastern people who are sick and tired of training in the cold training in the snow. Maybe they're running like a spring marathon. Usually we get, you know, you get a lot of people who are running boston or, or one of the bigger spring marathons and they come down to Orlando, they get to run in nice warm weather, that's one of the reasons we have it in Orlando. Look, I'm not a Disney guy, like Orlando is not really my destination of choice, but when it comes down to it, florida has reliable, warm weather. They have cheap flights from anywhere in the country, you know, and, and we've actually worked out kind of a good like running trails and stuff around there as well. So it's, it's nice and reliable versus we did it in san Diego a few years ago, you like southern California, this is gonna be perfect. I think they said it was Like, I wasn't there, Jeff was there, it was like 50° the whole time. It's just like, it's not what you want for a winter retreat, you know? So that's why Orlando is great Flagstaff in the summer is awesome because it's just generally good, it's warm of course, but it's generally good weather.

So that's, that's kind of why we do the retreats. That might still sound weird to people because I think there's just a certain mentality that someone almost has to have to actually like click the button and say, I'm gonna go to one of these, a lot of people that we've talked to have kind of said that it's a little bit of a leap of faith, a little bit of like, just kind of like whatever I'm gonna go for it, you know, I'm gonna do it. Um so, so it's always, you're right, it's always fun to hear those stories, like people who've had to, like, who took their vacation, It's like vacation time from work or they did it you know maybe in lieu of a separate like vacation that they were gonna take something like that. So it's it's always fun to hear people but but Andy you had you had told me before that you wanted to share like at least one particular story from Orlando this a couple weeks ago. Yeah and I think that one of the big things that I found being at camps and different stuff to begin with is that a lot of people are nervous about their experience level or what how long they've been running or like do they do they qualify for being at something like this?

And I think that this particular story from one of our actual R. C. Runners one of the runners connect athletes fred. He um he had shared that you know his he had just started running you know in 2022 his story was that he had I think some coworkers doing a race and they were trying to convince him and finally he's like okay I'll sign up for the five K. Five K. Sold out. So he ended up having to sign up for the half marathon. He's like all right I'll do it. The kicker is that he only had two weeks for to train for this race. And so he got himself in gear. He did some runs not a whole lot before but he did some runs and ran a sub two hour half marathon in his first time running one, you know, after only having run a couple of weeks and it kind of hooked him, he started, he got into it, started enjoying it, and then here he is, Yeah, here he is, just a few months later at a, at a running retreat and he's gearing up for his first marathon, which I thought was such a cool story of just like how, how that transpired and now where he is and he, you know, he showed up and he may be at first was like, do I even have the credibility to go to this and 100% you know, it's a great learning experience, it's a great opportunity to know, especially for new runners, we do that, we do some form analysis and I think that's a big thing that a lot of runners maybe don't know what's, what, what they're doing or like they don't know from the form side, you know, that you can, anyone can go out and run and move and do all the things, but like, if you want to start seeing some improvement, like, what are some things you can do and that form piece, it's such a huge thing and it's something that's really difficult to do remotely, it's when you can do it in person and go through all that.

I think it's a really nice um experience for a lot of them and a lot of them had a lot of the same things and like even myself, it was funny, we did the form analysis with all the athletes and then I was like, you know, I should do one on myself, so I did it and I actually my P. T. Saw it and she was like, are you exaggerating your hip drop? And I was like no that was legitimate, that's how bad it was. So it's like I have a lot of the same things that everyone has and that's it's super common, there's nothing wrong with it. It's just kind of like what can we do to help you prevent either prevent injuries that that's something you've dealt with or even just kind of improve your efficiency just to make it even easier to go out for a run. So you know, I gotta say fred fred did like a speed run through like the runner life cycle, you know, I think it's pretty rare for us to get like a brand. I'm not I'm not saying rare as in we never, it never happens. But the majority of people who come to our retreats are people who have been running for several years, they've already run races. Like it's pretty rare to get somebody who literally just dipped a toe in like the year before ran, you know, half marathon kind of out of the blue and the next thing, you know, he's at a runner, I love that.

He's just like speed running? Like running? He's just doing it. He's doing it faster than, than your average person does it. That's great, right? It's pretty cool just to kind of, you know, chat with through that. He's, he's an active person, he's been active for most all of his life. He sails a lot actually. He's his first love is the sailing and so that sometimes he intermix is that into his training. But yeah, pretty cool, pretty cool story. You never know who's gonna show up. We had a guy when we did one of our zap, one of our blowing rocker treats. We had a guy who, he had been kind of vague with like his travel plans, you know, we, we always ask people for what are your travel plans? You know, we want to make sure if you're flying in, we want to make sure that we have, we have a van there to pick you up um if you're driving in, we just wanna make sure, you know, like what time to get there, how to get there, Whatever this guy was kind of vague with, with exactly what was gonna happen, but, but you know, ultimately these are adults, like we checked in with him, but he was like, no, I'm good, I'm set, don't worry. So we just assumed this guy's driving in, turns out, he flew his own little plane into this little strip that's like close by, where's that, where's that fitness is in blowing rock and yeah, it was wild and he was super nonchalant about it, like super, you know, like clearly he wasn't a guy who like drew a lot of attention to himself and yet it was like dude, this guy is a total badass, he just like he just flew his own plane to, to this retreat.

It was, it was awesome. So you just, you never know who's, who's gonna show up, but you know, and talking about the Orlando um retreat a couple weeks ago really makes me start thinking about past retreats, future ones of course, but the talking about the past ones, I I've shared this within runners connect a lot, so I'm a bit of a broken record within like our own athletes, but when we did the 2020 Orlando retreat, that was the first time we went to Orlando, you know, the previous year was that san Diego debacle where it was just kind of hold and and a little bit miserable. I mean it was still people still have fun, but it was a little bit miserable, so we were like we gotta go to florida, we gotta do, we gotta just we gotta do it, we're going to florida, so we go to Orlando, it's this great retreat and I remember before, you know, I I had just Jeff had just kind of like stepped back from his, his leadership role. He made me ceo at the time. And I'm sitting there thinking like This my big initiative of 2020 is we're gonna do more in person stuff. I realized when I was kind of looking back on the previous couple of years, I was just like the in person stuff is where it happened, like the magic happens, I'm not saying, look, we're an online platform, platform.

Everything we do online is is great. That's where we really, you know, make our impact. But man in person stuff is just fun, you know, race meetups, uh retreats, whatever, just impromptu meetups. Even I had all these crazy ideas and it was interesting because I had actually been reading about, you know, all this crazy crap out of china and you know, like for the in the few weeks prior, but I was just like, I remember thinking, I was like, I hope no one cancels the retreat, you know, which is, it's easy to think about that now, like that right now, looking back with with, you know, having experienced the last few years, that seems normal. But at the time that was kind of a crazy thing to think about, like someone legitimately saying, hey, I'm not coming to this retreat that I've paid a lot of money for. Um but nobody did and while we're there, nothing was really out of the ordinary really. It was once we got back the Tokyo marathon got canceled. Um because you know, Tokyo was kind of the first domino to fall in a way and we had an athlete that was at the camper named Georg.

She's been to a bunch of our camps is awesome. I've shared many a beer with Georg and at past camps and you know, she had done all this prep. Bjork. Bjork is a monster out there training. I mean just an absolute beast with how much training she does. She was ready. She was ready to rock and roll. We had worked on like getting her iron levels right and stuff. We had talked all through camp about how can we make Tokyo happen as best we can And yeah, we get back and it's canceled. And I was just like, well, so much for my 2020 initiative. You know, we, we wound up, not only do we like we wound up canceling two retreats that we had planned for that summer. We, I had, I had actually booked a flight to Boston um for for the Boston Marathon, I was gonna go and just do a bunch of meetups and stuff. I had to cancel all that. Um It was just, it was just such a, such a rug pull and it's, it's funny, we should almost do a whole nother podcast. Maybe that's just me liking the sound of my own voice, but like talking about just like all the, I think there's a lot of things that we as a company did well throughout Covid and there's definitely a lot of things that we did poorly.

Um and it's definitely, that's kind of where it all began, that's kind of like the starting point when I look back in 20 years, when I look back and that's gonna be one of the biggest aspects of it, to me, not talking about like the health side or whatever, just kind of, the personal and sort of, the business side is how it affected our, our company and how it affected our, our, our members as well. It was really a crazy situation and I um I definitely look at that Orlando retreat, we kind of look back at it, it's kind of like, oh, how naive we were like, how, you know, sort of carefree and, and it was, it was, it was honestly really great. It was fun and I'm glad that we've been able to get back to that at this point, but it was, we had no clue what was coming from so many different angles we had, we were all just blissfully unaware, no idea what was about to happen. So that's when I think of the Orlando retreat. I don't think I'll ever be able to think of it without looking back at that. Absolutely wild 2020 you know, this is february 2020. It was like early March was probably where, you know, she really hit the fan, but, but, but early february was kind of like, you know, we're all good, we're gonna go do this race is gonna be fun.

And then yeah then crazy stuff happen. All That blew up. Yeah. I was actually at the probably the US Olympic trials there in 2020 in Atlanta and that was I think that it was the end of february that year, february. Yeah, it was was it on the leap year? Is that right? I think it's like on the 29th it was something like the very end of february and because it was I think the next week I did a race and I came back from, I ran that race, got on a flight, flew to my sister's engagement, flew back the next day and it was the very next day that it was like everything just flights, everything was gone, everything was done. And that race was the first weekend in March. So I think it was the weekend before and it was crazy. I was just like you just had this huge at this huge in person event, whether it's just and you don't think anything of it and then this happens and it's just like and and that that leads me into my first runners connector treat was 2022 which was the first one we had coming back from the pandemic.

And I remember feeling a little bit awkward because I hadn't been around people and like large social settings and so long it was still kind of this like gray space of like where are we within this? You know, the mask wearing was kind of in and out like what are we supposed to be doing? What's the, what are the rules And and so I was like I felt a little bit nervous. I also felt a little bit just like uncomfortable being in social settings. It's like I hadn't done that for so long that I was like, I don't know how to be social again, I'm like I'm naturally normally somebody who's extrovert and enjoys that stuff and like I was in this like, oh my gosh, like what I talked to people like what's going on and so like that yes, I was like this is the weirdest experience for me but we know everything ended up great. We had a good time. We we worked around it as best as we could and and made sure that everybody felt comfortable doing what they needed to do and you know behaving in that way and I think that it ended up great. We we had another somewhat smaller group as well compared to last year. It was like I think fairly similar in terms of numbers and um yeah it was, we went to one place, the funniest thing about that retreat was we got on this kick of researching alligators at one point.

Um It was like a new fear was unlocked in me like going out running. You know there's all kinds of things that I worried about but like alligators was not something I ever thought about being that I've never lived you know in an area where that's prevalent and one of the runs we went to was it was beautiful. It was really really nice run but it was along it was Lake Apopka I think is the name of the lake right there and that you saw there was several times where you saw an alligator either sitting down to the side or lurking in the water and they're not really that interested in people unless it's mating season I guess is what we found out because we I mean we heavily were researching like could there be um But it was kind of funny, we had some conversations about, you know the alligators, People took some pictures with them in the water from a safe distance. No one was, no one was you know doing something anything crazy but it was kind of fun. It was interesting. We had a good time. You needed to get advice from florida man. You know you need to find florida man and be like all right, how dangerous are these alligators to runners who of course florida man would say no, not at all.

It's totally normal occurrence for us. You know. Yeah that's florida. It's so interesting. What if what a funky state and it's like I said it's it's definitely for me it's like Orlando not really my top destination in a lot of ways, but it's so convenient, you know, it's so, so convenient from for so many people from a flight standpoint, that's one of the biggest things we think about is like, look, we have to charge a good amount of money for these retreats. They're expensive to put on. They just are, we don't really even make that much money from these retreats truly. We really don't. And the worst thing to do. The thing I hate doing is charging all this money for the retreat and then knowing that people are gonna have to spend a fortune on travel, you know, so that's one of the best things about Orlando. It's just like almost no matter where you are in february, you can find some cheap flights. It's just just the way it is. So, so speaking of Orlando. One of the interesting things that we have that that we've decided now is we're obviously going to Orlando next year, 2024 it's gonna coincide with the 2024 olympic marathon trials which are in Orlando, which is really, really sweet.

I'm definitely super excited about that. Yeah, there's a there is a little bit of controversy over the location. So, you know, the originally the board had unanimously decided on Chattanooga and the ceo or the director. I think it was mostly just so everyone knows this is U. S. A. T. F. Usa track and field a lot of people, your average runner may not have any clue about the U. S. A. T. F. Even exists and part of that is because they're terrible in a lot of ways but we'll talk about that continue and we could have a whole coach chad just that. But yeah so they the ceo decided to change that unanimous bid for Chattanooga to Orlando. So when it was announced, I think it was a little bit of like oh surprise like what's going on here? Why did that happen? But it'll be I think it's gonna set up for a really fun experience for the campers it's gonna be or the retreaters it's gonna be very cool. Like I'm I'm excited from that perspective it's gonna be it's gonna be a fun event. I think the U. S. A. T. F. The olympic trials generally is just like a good, I think it drums up a lot of excitement for the sport, which I think the more the excitement there is in the sport, the more that it's gonna benefit everybody, like all the races that you go to are going to be really well put on And all these things are just going to be better and um but you know with this one and that change, it reminds me back to the same thing happened in the 2016 Olympic trials which were in L.

A. There was a again I think the board had decided and recommended that they should go to I think Houston might be wrong on that. Pretty sure with Houston they changed it to go to L. A. And I think there was a lot of oversight in that decision. I think there's there's like a lot of things I just don't think about and ended up being a pretty hot day in L. A. And I actually got some of the numbers from the scorching. You don't have to say pretty hot. It was absolutely scorching. Everybody was like people were dropping like flies go ahead with that. So there Were at that 2016 Olympic trials there were 244 women that qualified 211 men um 105 of the men finished in 100 and 49 of the women finished. So that's 64% and 75% respectively. I mean this is like you're talking about a lot of elite athletes that that went out there to race and that's the attrition rate and I think part of it had to do with some decisions U. S. A. T. F. Made. I mean they were televising the event so it didn't start until 10 and so it ended up being really hot and then on the streets of L.

A. You're just on black top. So you know it might have been maybe mid seventies but your when you're out there I actually raced it, I dropped out about halfway. So I won the I used to joke that I won the half marathon that nobody else knew we were running because I finished everyone else ran the marathon, I was there for the half. Um But yeah thanks. Yeah so it was it like feels even hotter when you're in the sun's coming down beating on you, there was no shade, you're in the middle of the black top where the heat just kind of feels like it's almost you know dissipating more, you feel it more so it was kind of just like this just not you know fantastic experience. So it makes me wonder what's gonna happen with Orlando with it. The shift being to Orlando uh like how what how what else are they going to surprise us with? Are they gonna they gonna make sure the races early enough to to ensure the athlete safety? Um You're being way too nice about this like U. S. A. T. F. Is such a joke in so many ways like like I mean look running I'm not one of those people who believes that running in America is ever gonna be like as popular as the NFL, I'm not a fool.

You know like the NFL has such a mass appeal to it that it's just it's perfect in a way for for from a big sporting angle but running could be so so so much bigger if we just had like more competent leadership, I mean to tell people like, you know, we kind of glossed over what happened there, people probably like what the heck? Like it was gonna be in Chattanooga all of a sudden it's in Orlando? Well, it turns out that it was runner's World broke this story, It's such a stupid story, that's why I hate that. It's even like this controversial thing. But it turns out that basically a a guy who works for the U. S. A. T. F. He he was on the board had who was one of the ones who had recommended Chattanooga, he was part of like kind of the scout team of sort of like making sure that Chattanooga is gonna work, you know, and there's a lot to look at. I I understand that's a big responsibility have to make sure the course looks good, you have to cooperate with the government, local government, you have to cooperate with the police. There's a lot of things that go into it, but it turns out that this guy had gotten a consultant's fee for this, says if you got a consultant fee That was less than $8,000 from the city of Chattanooga.

And and I guess what they're implying without necessarily saying is that this was like sort of a bribe in a way, but it sounds so stupid. $8,000. Look, I'm not saying $8,000 isn't like a lot of money, but you've got like you know, these big World cup soccer events where you have like tens of millions, maybe more. That's getting like, you know, you read about these crazy scandals and it's kind of like, oh, that's kind of cool in a way, like it makes the sport sound really Grandiose and really big. Like, yeah, the Olympic trials in the marathon in America were moved because of $8,000, right? It's just, it's such a joke. And I mean in L. A. It was just that they made so many bad, like, the stuff that happened, like they didn't have, there was, I think a runner's world article on this as well, They were supposed to have sponges on this course and they didn't know until the morning of that, they were pre filled with soap so they couldn't use them. So they were, they had volunteers ripping up t shirts and this is like, supposed to be this event. That's like the epitome of the, you know, the olympic trials is like the biggest thing in the US for distance runners from the elite perspective and they're ripping up t shirts and towels and I mean they were tiny, they were only like a couple inches long and people that's what they were giving us to cool ourselves off on the course.

Not really that adequate for what, you know what people needed and that those conditions and I dropped out I think around. Yeah, like I said halfway and they had said in the day before, if you're gonna drop out, do it at the start finish line, which I laughed at until it happened and I didn't drop out at the start finish line and then I was like, um I think I was a mile from the course that I was suffering from heat exhaustion. I didn't know that until a little bit later, but the medic that came to me, he told me I was fine. I don't remember him giving me any fluids, nothing. And I mean, most of the people he was treating was for, for heat illness and I, you know, I don't know who, whose whose job it was to, like, make sure that the, all that stuff was well flushed out, but I dropped out and then I thought, okay, well, I was just being a baby, dropping out when I did, and so I just shuffled my way back, I walked the whole mile back to that. I had people with me when I got back to near the start finish area, I went, collected my stuff and then I um passed out on a street corner from heat exhaustion. Same medic came back to see how I was doing and he was like, didn't I already see you?

And I was like, you do. And I had to get I V fluids on the street corner there and then I had to get taken to the hospital via ambulance and um that was the whole thing, you know the expensive. That was just unreal when it it could have been avoidable. It was 100% avoidable and it took me probably a year. I had to go through us CTF insurance to get them to cover it because I I dropped out because I didn't get served correctly when I dropped out. Like they didn't they didn't do their due diligence, they didn't help. And so it took me forever to get the everything covered up from that. I think I still had to pay a little bit because my insurance only covered part of it and then I got us a T. F. To cover as much as I could and then paid the rest of it. But it was just kind of like it makes me worried when I that when that kind decision and I feel like that one had a lot to do with the money that the ceo is probably bringing in. I think there was also recent stuff that's come out against max Siegel who the Ceo of U.

S. A. T. F. And you know, we could probably go on about this forever. But it's just kind of like this kind of stuff is not mainstream, not like it's just it's not talked about like if the NFL, someone from the NFL this had happened at that level it would be everywhere we would know, but this is something that like a lot of people don't know about and it does impact. I think all the way through all the races that are out there impacts us. A. T. F. Certification has to be stamped on almost any race in order for it to be usable for different, you know, qualifications and stuff. And and so I think it does have an impact. Does the does the money actually that U. S. A. T. F. Isn't using their money to help athletes are not helping races? I mean the U. S. A. T. F. I don't think they put a lot of money towards the olympic trials. I don't know that for certain, but I know that um just from what I know, knowledge on the state of areas that put on the race is that oftentimes it's really expensive for them to put on the olympic trials. And so I think even this year they had trouble getting bids for people to want to put it on because it's expensive.

Yeah. And so it's like, well there's got to be more incentive, there's got to be some more ways to develop, you know, more economic extended for these cities to want it if they could make make money off of it, like that would be ideal. Like why can't we figure out a way why isn't more of us U. S. A. T. S. Money going towards that like what are they not doing? And I think that's part of it. So it makes me a little concerned about how Orlando will end up if there's decisions being made on money or they're going to be things that aren't as well thought out again. You know going into Orlando and yeah those are those are important things to consider. Like many runners, I am always on the lookout for ways to increase my focus and performance during long runs and workouts. But intra workout nutrition seems to always center on carbohydrates and fueling there's more to performance than just fueling. That's why we love using perform from the amino company perform is an amino acid based drink that clinical studies have shown helps improve endurance, reduce fatigue and increase muscle protein synthesis so you can recover faster after the run.

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T. T. T. At checkout for 15% off your next order. I feel like I should mention like before we just keep ripping on U. S. A. T. F. That the trial, there's still really fun to watch. Like there's still it's still a super fun event and that's why I'm super excited to have all the people in Orlando. Like that's gonna be part of the plan is to go watch the olympic trials. It's gonna be awesome. Um, but, but I do have to add Andy first of all, um, max Siegel made 3.8 million in 2021. Uh, that's, you know, that's a massive number. Like that's not, you know, if he made like a few 100 grand, you'd be like, all right, well, you know. Yeah, that's that's good money. But it's like it's not, you know, it's not money to where you're like how on earth did this guy keep his job and how on earth did you get this amount of money something a lot of people don't know. And Andy you you make sure you had insurance, but honestly 11 thing a lot of athletes will get royally screwed in situations like this because even if you're a professional sponsored athlete, you don't have benefits so often. Like really maybe the top, top, top, top echelon athletes have insurance.

But typically even if you're like a, you know, a full time wage sponsored athlete, you're a contractor, you don't actually get insurance then if you're, you know, the tear that I was when I was competing because I never had a shoe sponsor, even though I was making, you know, you know, us usA finals and stuff. I never had a shoe sponsorship, so I'm sitting there, you know, making pennies, but also not having insurance. I remember when I turned 26. Yeah, believe me, that was definitely a scary thing where I was like, I don't have insurance, I mean, I don't have anything, maybe a cheap like obamacare plan or something like that, but that's not going to cover, you know, I'm not gonna cover you till like 10 grand or something. So you've got a situation like you went through that can absolutely ruin an athlete and you're sitting there waiting for months, maybe even a year at that point for us a T. F to cover something that should have been, first of all, it should have never happened to begin with. And second of all it should the coverage of that should have been a no brainer. Yeah, Because the race was in February of 2016, I ran my I ran my first marathon, I finished my first actual marathon because I qualified with a half for the Olympic trials in 2016 And um my that marathon was November of 2016.

So I think it was maybe the week of that race that I actually got final word what they were going to cover um after a lot of back and forth. And um I luckily had somebody to advocate for me, I was working with was l. And the team manager, there was like this is this is this is not this shouldn't be something you have to deal with. This is ridiculous. And she actually found who I needed to contact, who I needed to go through and and started helping facilitate that process. But like you said, so many different runners don't have that accessibility. They don't have the people that like, I didn't even know, like I had no clue. I just remember my hospital bill for the note that was the ambulance bill, that was super high. It was a three minute ride. I remember when I got in the ambulance that it was like E. T. A three minutes. I heard him say it and and it was like a quarter of a mile, it was just around the corner and it was I think somewhere around like $1400 just to go three minutes away. And it was funny because my boyfriend, he was there with me when I when all this was happening and he was like if I had known how expensive it was, I wanted to throw you over my shoulder and like this is not, I mean the hospital bill was mostly covered by my insurance, it was the ambulance ride, that was the problem and I was like this is ridiculous.

But yeah you're right. I think it's um I heard a statistic one time with that. What is it? I think five out of the top 10 in every distance or discipline in track and field is making below the poverty line. Just so unacceptable. The benefits that that U. S. A. T. F. Gives out is mostly to people who have our national champions or So that those people already have sponsorships that are paying them salaries. Uh you know they, the other thing I also it makes me angry recently is not that this happened recently that like it's a good thing but um the maternity pay that angered me because the way they announced it was oh look what we're doing, look how great we are. We're offering maternity leave. And I was like it's 2022. Why are why is this exciting to you? This should have. No it's like it's sad that we're just now recognizing that that's something that should be offered to female athletes and to be honest with you right? Like unfortunately that is an accomplishment for U.

S. A. T. S. You know what I mean? It's like it's kind of a bummer that that sort of is like right yeah great news I guess. But again it's only going to be you have to qualify for it. It's probably still you can only be you're already olympians, you're already um Yeah so I think that's where a lot of this stuff gets buried, it's like it, they offer it, but it's like the, the tiny amount of people, it doesn't help to grow the sport because you know, most people aren't gonna gonna shoot for that and I think that's a problem. Um I I found that I I felt like there was a really good resurgence of distance running in the Atlanta try partly, I think, because Atlanta was like, we're going to cover everything for everybody and make it super accessible. So I think a lot of people were like, oh, let me try, let me go for it. And um I had the stats on that, we had, there was 511 women who qualified in 2020 and 260 men um and you know, we just looked at, we had 240 for women in in 2016 and two 11 men in 2016 and compared those numbers compared to each other, just insane like that, that jump, especially on the women's side doubled, we we had double the number, the men's side, not quite as much of a boost, but um it's just kind of interesting to see that in 2016 I had to pay an entry for you to to run the olympic trials, I don't think they had that this year, roll recovery actually When I went ahead and said if you had to pay your entry fee or if you already pay your entry fee for the 2016 trials will reimburse you.

So an entry fee, an entry fee for the olympic trials, you qualify for olympic trials and there's an entry Fee. Yeah, so there was a lot of like that's preposterous and then they gave us all these the tickets to things to go to meals and stuff. They had, they gave us one ticket to everything and it was like $50 to buy another ticket and I had my family there and I was like I'm not going to pay 50 bucks for a buffet dinner and it was for every single thing. I would have had to pay another 50 50 bucks for every additional ticket to anything. And then it was just kind of like this amount of stuff that just the add ons and the money making that felt very anti the athlete, not anti the athlete but just not supportive of the athlete. It felt more like this is a production. Uh And I think that that's something I hope will will continue to get better. I think the L. A. Did you know fuel the the Atlanta trials to be a little bit more focused on. Yeah doing what was right for the athletes. But yeah it's interesting.

Well I think I think that you know, we talked about this before we started recording and I think I think I'm gonna have to kind of like cut it a little bit because I don't and I can talk about this forever, but like one of the things that one of the big debates is like, do you is the goal to send the best team to the olympics, which most people would say, of course it is, Most people would say yes on on its surface, it makes sense. That's your number one goal is to send the best team. The problem is you have to balance that with putting with something that's gonna be good for the sport in America. Like when we're talking about, you know, the american olympic trials, how do we actually get people invested in the sport? How do we at runners connect? How do we get our people who are coming to our camp to be like, yeah, I really want to go watch the olympic trials and I think that's where having the olympic trials on its surface is is a good thing. I think on the whole, I think it's, it's, it creates a really exciting event. I mean, yeah, when you look back at the 2020 trials that we just talked about right before, like, Covid Hit was molly Seidel, like having this crazy breakthrough to make the team, you know, you had Galen Rupp crushing the race on the inside, but all this stuff creates this fun.

But then the unfortunate thing is that, you know, you're not creating, even though we have, we kind of were doing like the worst of both. We have the olympic trials, but we're also not creating a good, we're not creating a good environment for the athletes to to to even choose the best team because yeah, you have it in L. A. When the on the road temperature was probably like 88 degrees or something like that and you're not necessarily making a good production or a good viewing experience for the viewers as well because it's, it's so unorganized and so haphazard. You know, I know a marathon is a huge challenge to organize but my my thinking was in a, I keep saying I'm glad it's in Orlando for our selfish reasons that we can be there to watch. But I could see a Chattanooga being really great because a huge big city may look at a running event and be like, you know, I mean, yeah, that we have the boston marathon is historic event that's so massive. But like for most big cities it's like whatever, like we're gonna host the, the MLB All star game or we're gonna host, you know, the, the NFL playoffs, like what do we care about this marathon Chattanooga On the other hand, they're gonna care about this.

Like the city's gonna care the residents are gonna care that's a Chattanooga is a very surprisingly like crazy endurance city. People love running biking all that stuff. It's huge for that stuff and it's smaller to where you could actually have this mass appeal within the city. So just on, just thinking of that, I would have loved to see it in Chattanooga. I'm a little bummed to see in Orlando. Yeah, yeah, and I think I heard some feedback listening to Hera and does this new podcast. So they talked a little bit of about this, they talked about something that I hadn't thought about, which is the training or racing on a course that's conducive to what the athletes will be racing on in the actual olympics. I mean, you think about the, there's different athletes that have different strengths and if we're gonna have, if the marathon olympics is gonna be on a hilly course, the trial should be on a hilly course, Let's send the best athletes that handling the, that have the strength and have the ability. So we, that's part of sending the best, which I think is something that we don't always think about and so that's why I'm like, that has to be somewhere in the mix and all of this when we, when we think about it.

But yeah, I think it will be interesting. I think Orlando is going to be a similar experience to seeing like how the weather impacts who does well, that's gonna be, that's where that angle is going to come from. We're going to see a little bit more of that, honestly, you know, with the olympics, Lewis molly Seidel when she plays third, that was a really warm weather race. So like, you know, having in Orlando might not have been bad prep for that, but yeah, it's um yeah, you know, it's funny Andy I just, while we're on that real quick like to kind of close off that topic, I think I, I actually very much in a way, I think I actually disagree with with Cara and Dez from from that perspective because look, unless someone medals at the olympics, no one cares, I hate to, I hate to say that like that's an unfortunate thing to say. Um, but unless you met at the olympics, no one cares. 2016 2016 olympics in the 1500 m first of all, barely anyone knows that matt Centrowitz won gold, like barely anyone even knows that anyway, but I bet if I asked even even big running fans hey, who else was in that final?

That olympic final, what other american was in the final, nobody would know it was Ben blankenship, he finished 10th place. Amazing run, incredible, awesome, but no one cared about it, like that's the unfortunate thing. So I look at, I think maybe it's because I'm not really a competitive athlete anymore. Maybe I look at it more as like how can we make the sport big in America, I don't think it's getting more olympians, I hate to say that like or more more medalists because there's only three and let's be honest East african dominance ain't going anywhere. Yeah molly molly or Galen or or whoever will pop the occasional which is awesome and I love that like that's awesome to see but I would I'm actually as as again as a non competitive athlete anymore and especially when we're thinking about this in terms of like hey how can we get the runners connect members and interested in this race? I care way more about the U. S. Olympic trials than I do the olympic marathon. I know that's crazy and that sounds non conducive to like sending the best team and bringing home the most hardware. But again we're not we're not going to go 123 at the olympic marathon?

It is what it is. How can we create the best event That that shares the best stories? You know I mean that 2020 race, my goodness you had Keira d'amato one of the best stories in the last 10 20 years of running. Who was there? What an amazing amazing story. You had molly, who you know crushing our first marathon, you had um all these great stories. I'm much more interested in how can we share those big stories and how can we put on a great event let's say okay yeah in 2016 it was in RIO. So yeah the U. S. A. T. F. Is thinking we got to send the best team, let's let's have it in scorching heat and let's have the most miserable course of all time and you have people dropping like flies. I'm sorry. That's not lot of fun experience. That's not a good experience for the viewer. That's not a good experience for anybody to be seeing that because they're, they, your average run, even your average fan cannot doesn't understand that concept that we just talked. I'm not saying they're dumb. They just don't, they don't have time to understand this stuff. You and I were competitive athletes. We've, we've been involved in this for a long time there. It's hard to explain. Hey, the reason this is in 90 degree heat and miserable conditions, that's not fun for anybody is is because we want to send the best three people that have the best chance of that.

Just that's too much. Guess what? As, as as an american consumer, I've already tuned out. I'm done. I'm out. So I want to create the absolute best event on the day. And that's why I was, I was, it was shameful for me to read about the Chattanooga thing cause I was just like, oh my God, chat you a Chattanooga or a Eugene Oregon or Asheville north Carolina or or Raleigh Raleigh would probably be better, a little bigger. Um something like that would just be amazing because you have all this built in fan base, You have a smaller city that's gonna really, really care about it and I think they're gonna put on a way better event. Okay, maybe, maybe there's that tiny little percentage of where it doesn't send the absolute best team for the day, but I just don't think that matters that much in terms of, again, my mindset is so much about growing the sport now and growing the popularity and and having, you know, having what is now happening for Formula One um, happened for running.

I still am not, I have friends, one of my, one of my best friends named his dog after a Formula One racer and I was like, what? I didn't realize that this thing has taken off, I was like, I want to see running do that, that's what I want to see. And and I, I personally think that caring too so much about what the team, we simply olympics doesn't matter. I think if we're gonna have the event, I think we, we make it the best possible production on the day. Yeah, yeah, it is your right. Because I think the big piece of being able to grow the sport in the US is telling the story in being able to portray that in all that. And also, you know, I think creating more opportunities for people to see the people that they idolize. I mean Raleigh north Carolina, we've got the sir walter miler, which I think there's a lot of runners that come to that and people now know who they are and that's so huge for growing it. Yeah. They just that needs to be so much more that needs to be highlighted a lot more that needs to become more commonplace, you know all these races that are put on. I think that when they do a good job of taking care of everyone there, it creates a good experience for everybody like that.

When they the it just it carries through like they know what they're doing, they know what the athletes want. It's important that that becomes like very central to the way that these races are put on to make sure that you know the athletes are taken care of they're getting what they need. The fans can get the same thing out of it. Uh Yeah, because the other thing that I think a lot of people don't know with the olympic trials marathon is that it's a loop course. So instead of being one big course that you do like most marathons, it ends up being like in L. A. It was a two mile loop followed by 46 mile loops. So you get to see the athletes several times come by, which is much better for Spectators. Really cool. Not not as fun for the athlete, but you know, we'll take it a little bit of course, but it's a cool experience. So it's it's worth it. So yeah, I would say there's a there's a lot of stuff we could go on with this but I think we could uh we should probably wrap that one there. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, me and Andy can rant, we knew this was gonna happen, we knew we were gonna be able to rant on this for for an eternity.

But ultimately I kind a wanna like like bring this back into how is this like all relevant for for our runner. So again come to our country in Orlando next year, as much as we're like crapping on the olympic trials, it's still a U. S. A. T. S involvement as an event. Very cool. Super. I went to the, I didn't qualify in 2020 but I went to it so much fun, There's so many opportunities to engage with the athletes, they're out and about in the city. You can find opportunities to go meet people or listen to them talk. Or you may see someone like care or does just walking and if they're not racing. So a lot of a lot of cool stuff to get excited about. So no doubt, but we want to talk and and I want to talk about like bringing this back to kind of talking about the retreats we wanted to talk about, to close this out and close this podcast that we want to talk about. Five big lessons that we've learned from the retreat so often we get emails all the time when people get interested in the retreats and we get so many of the same questions and ultimately what I think it comes down to is people thinking that they're not going to fit in at the retreats.

So, so I think these five lessons, we'll talk a little bit about that. But number one, um, the number one, that one that I wrote down right away was you are not as slow as you think the reason I wrote this one down is because that's one of the biggest questions that we get is like, I've run a 4 15 marathon. Am I gonna get dropped on all the runs? And we're just like, no, like not even close, not at all. We have people, yes, we do have the occasional person who's be queued or, or has run like under three hours in the marathon or something like that. Who comes then? We have people who are doing run walks while they're there. We have people who are running, I mean, you know, especially when we would go to blowing rock to go to zap fitness. Some of those runs are so hilly and like out on trails and stuff that we would have runs that would take several hours and we would, we would make sure to plan everything to where we accommodated everyone, but that's what people really realize when they get to the camp. They're like, oh, I'm not really, I think I'm so slow and yet I come here and I'm running with, I've got running buddies now at this camp, It's definitely an interesting thing to see, people kind of have that like, oh, that realization that a lot of times two we do do out and back, everybody is allowed to go with the, your own pace.

Um, we create opportunities to make sure that people can run with each other if they choose, they can run solo. We know everybody doesn't want the same experience out of it. So it's, there's nothing, there's no pressure to do anything. It's kind of make it, make it what you want. Yeah, no, there's, there's, there's definitely, we accommodate all paces, but more importantly though, the people, there are not all these fast marathoners, the faster people are, the more the anomaly, you know, we, we get the occasional superfast person that's, that's fun to have at the camp of course, but that's more the anomaly. Um, number second biggest lesson is your form is not as bad as you realize. Maybe your form is better than you realize, you know, we do, we do gait analysis of, of everybody. And it's interesting, we, when we first started doing it, we would do it in a group setting and Andy you guys just did in a group setting, but we did in a group setting and I actually, it's funny there was a year or two where I stopped doing the group setting thing because I felt that there were people that were getting um, a little bit like there were two reasons I stopped that one was because I didn't want to offend anybody in front of other people.

I didn't want to be like, here's how you need to improve your form in front of all these other people. Because like it's funny, there was one of one of those app camps where Jeff, Jeff is so like technical with form that the way he said it, he was like he was doing this person's form and he was he was just, you know, he was giving them these great tips, like here's how you can improve, you got this hip drop right here, you've got this leg blah blah blah blah, just going crazy into it, it was super helpful. And then we had this guy, his name was Grant, he would come to a bunch of our camps and this guy just had like impeccable running form and grants comes up and Jeff just goes again from, from this one where he was critiquing this person like pretty intensively, really helpful and really helpful, like not, not like, you know, giving him grief for it, but just really helpful to grants, where it was just like okay and Grant has perfect for him. So, you know, and it was just, it was so jarring of, of a difference. I I was like maybe we should do this one on one, but we've actually gone back to doing them uh in a in a group setting and one of the things that we run into as coaches is we're so often I start to feel like a bit of a broken record because I'm saying so many of the same things for different people um to the point where I worry that they think that I'm like, be asking them, you know, like, I don't want them to think that we're just giving this generic advice.

The reason we're giving it is because so many people have so much of the same issues, so many of us sit at desks for so long, so many of us drive cars, so much whatever we're, you know, we don't have strong, you know, maybe don't have enough time to do like great core work or whatever. And so often we have so many of the same issues that we as coaches, it starts to feel like we're given the kind of the same advice but Andy you mentioned at the Orlando retreat this year that you felt like people's form was better than I think a lot of people were nervous about it, they were like, oh my form is gonna be awful, I'm gonna I don't want to see it. I think that that's like super common when I was would go to the zap camp same thing, it's like, you know, a lot of people had some apprehensions around it and I think that it's, it's something that like some people are a little bit nervous about seeing themselves move and but I think when you when you start to see them side by side you start to see that like there's a lot of good things that you do. There's a lot of things that make your running form work for you and like everybody has a different movement side and it's just about seeing ways that we can either prevent injuries that we can keep doing the running that we're doing and you don't have to be at any certain pace to have fantastic form.

You could be really fast and have really bad form. I think at the zap camp one of the things that they I think it was bill Rogers maybe who had cameras, Bill Rogers terrible kind of weird fun form things that he had wrong still super fast. So there's no there's nothing that's like you know, your we all can have different form issues at whatever speed that we go and I think that's important and like there's nothing wrong with you know, having something that you do, it's just knowing it and being able to improve upon it so well you should really, I tell this a lot of people that you should look at, let's say you have maybe not so great for, you should look at that as a positive. You've got to be a little bit glass half full of like wow if I make improvements, I'm gonna run a lot faster, like I'm gonna be a lot more efficient. I'm gonna get injured a lot less and I'm gonna be able to go a lot faster and have a lot more fun running. So yeah, it's in a way you almost don't want to be told that your form is perfect cause then you're like, oh crap, well that's, you know, I gotta turn over some other stones to, to see where I can improve that. That's a huge level of improvement for people.

But uh, and move into number three, I wrote, You're not weird. And then I put in parentheses, maybe a little because one of the big things we get, we, I talked about this a lot at the beginning, but a lot of people will say when they're introducing themselves, they'll be like, yeah, I told my coworkers or my friends like I'm going to this running retreat and they're like, what, what are you talking about? But what it comes down to is that, yeah, maybe within your friend group, maybe within your coworkers may be within your, your little cohort. Yeah, maybe you are a little bit weird. Maybe that is a little bit strange. But then you come to this, this retreat and it kind of filters through like the people that come to the retreats have that certain level of, I guess we can call it weirdness. I mean at this point that uh, that people end up, you know, you're, you're, you're, you're amongst friends. I guess it is a way to say it, like everybody has maybe the same level of weirdness when they come to the camps, but it's always funny to hear people say how the responses that they get from other people before they come right, I agree with that. Yeah, that's um I think, I think runners tend to also be, we're all a little bit weird.

I mean, I always say that like, also just like enjoying going for runs all around, like just by yourself or with other people. It's kind of a weird concept. Like it's most strange. A lot of people don't run because they're like, I hate it, that seems super boring, like why is this a fun sport for you? So I think it's okay, it's okay to kind of invest your time in it and enjoy it and you know, put yourself out there for it. So no doubt and go ahead and give us a and e. I wrote those first three, Andy wrote the next two, so we're kind of, we're kind of sharing the responsibility of these. Go ahead. Yeah, So I think the 4th one, the one I wrote down was just kind of, some of the connections that you can get in person are so more are so valuable for me. That's like the biggest thing that I've ever experienced was just being able to have these in person connections. I think from when I first graduated from college, I mean, I always had a team, I always had people around me and when I graduated, I didn't have a team and I was kind of figuring things out. I ran horribly, and then I was able to put myself in a position where I had teammates again and people to interact with and it made such a huge impact on me as a runner.

And I think that the same goes for when you go to camp, you hear other people's stories in real time, you get to hear what their experiences were and how they impacted them and it helps you in your own training, like maybe you thought, you know, there's no way I can do act because of this. And then you hear somebody else say, well, you know, I I had that very similar experience and this is how it turned out, and I think that it gives, it gives some hope, It gives some excitement, It gives some just like some a little bit more ability to kind of dream or, you know, what can you do, what do you want to do? What are, what are some things like that? Um and I think that the other things that we often don't get unless we have those in person connections uh, to to be able to um, you know, come together on and just here and share. So no doubt, no doubt. I mean, I I think, I think back so many of, like my biggest memories in the time I've been working for runners connect have been from the retreats. I mean, absolutely, as you know, we're an online platform, I keep saying this, that, you know, so much of our value is going to be provided online, but I look back at some of the stories, honestly, I I had, I'm glad, I'm glad I'm working this one in because I really wanted to talk about this, but one of my favorite stories from one of our retreats was uh this was several years ago, I was 27 so, you know, when you're 27 27 year old guy, you know, I think I personally believe I can relate to anyone in terms of like, especially in the running world, if you're if you're a runner, you know, I can find a way to relate to you.

I consider myself pretty good at that at the same time. This was kind of early on, I think it was, I think it was the first retreat I had done, and ultimately, most of people that are at the retreats are in their forties, fifties, sixties, um had some come in their seventies, but the one of the first retreats we did, we had these two guys that were probably right, maybe like late thirties, if I if I had to remember back, um and it was super interesting because they, when they introduced themselves, they each were kind of like a little bit like a little bit ambiguous with like their background and what made them come to the retreat. But they, one of them said something along the lines of like with with what he and I they were they were buddies, they were friends, what he and I have kind of experienced over the last several months, you know, we decided that something like this would be really great and it just like right away like a little light bulb went off in my head. I was like that's interesting. Of course we don't we don't we're never gonna press anyone to reveal more details and they want to but it was interesting to hear. So because as we said at the beginning some people are much more of an open book, some people are a little bit more reserved, these guys were kind of in the middle, they had something to share, but they, you know this was a group of strangers, they weren't gonna just like come out right well on the through getting to know them, it just kind of became clear to me I'm not claiming to be some like Sherlock Holmes detective that I like work through this this mystery, it just it just was very obvious to me that these guys have had both been through breakups or divorce.

Like and and it wound up actually being divorced. Uh so I what I did is the last night of camp is one of my favorite things to do is like once once all the activities have ended that's like my favorite part of camp is like who's gonna still wanna hang out and do whatever and and you know say I don't care about sleep or whatever and I asked these guys, I was actually this was when we were doing them at Zap Fitness. So I knew I still knew a bunch of the Zap guys from having like trained there and and and uh you know. Andrew colley was there and all these guys were there and I was like I was like we're gonna we're gonna go out with them on the saturday night. So saturday nights last night we were done with everything within the camp by like nine p.m. Or so and you know again I'm 27 I was like let's let's do it, we're gonna we're gonna go out, it's gonna be fun at the end of it. I was like you know what I'm gonna ask these two guys, I'm gonna see if they want to go, I went up to them, I went up to them at like eight PM or so. I said hey listen you know I've gotten to know them throughout the camp. Um I would love I'm gonna go out with some of the Zap Fitness guys. You know I would love for you guys to join us. They were just like immediately like yes like yeah we're coming, we're coming, we're coming, It's gonna be so much fun.

It was it was so awesome because most of the people at the camp would've been like, no, I want to go to bed, like we've already gone, we've already this brewery, we've already had dinner, I don't wanna I don't wanna go out with a bunch of guys in their twenties, like I don't wanna do that, these dudes, we went out and we had such an awesome time. Like we were we were out, we I think we were out until the bars closed and we went, we went late down in uh in Boone and they had such an awesome time, got to know them a lot more. They definitely poured out their stories a lot more. And it was it's it's funny how that from years ago now is such a memory that stands out to me above even, I don't know a lot of other things that maybe would make more sense on on the surface to be like standout memories, just having this experience giving these guys this experience that they probably didn't think they would get like, like they loved the camp. They that's good feedback and stuff. They enjoyed it, but I know that like that was a huge thing for them because they got to really look they were, you know, you recently go through a divorce, that's everything that's on your mind, like running your best marathon next is probably not at the forefront of your brain, you know, even though you're into running and of course they loved it, that's probably not like the biggest thing on your mind.

So it was super fun to just kind of give these, try to give these guys a more unique experience at, at the retreat. Um And and again, it also worked out for me because I was 27, I was like, yeah, let's go, it's gonna be fun, you know? So anyway, that that's that's one of my favorite camp stories to this day. I love It. That's so funny. I one of the, I think the 2022 retreat, there's a member who's on runners connect and he was there, he was at the camp and both of our flights got in pretty early and we were just hanging out in the baggage claim because we got it around the same time and so we chatted for a while, I found out he was an engineer and I'm an engineering and we both kind of laughed about that and geeked out a little bit on some running stuff and right, I got to hear a little bit of his story, which was kind of cool. And so that was, that was a really fun experience and now I get to see him pretty often on a lot of our, you know, in person zooms and stuff like that, I get to chat with him and kind of feel like I'm like more and I feel really connected to him and I really enjoy hearing how he's doing and all that stuff, which makes it so nice, you know, to be able to still have that with some people that we've met at camp, sometimes you just can't replace the person.

I'm glad you wrote that because that was more or less what was on my mind too. I was just like, man, as much as we push the online stuff and and we live in the online space, that stuff is just so, so powerful and you had, you had one more that you've written down as well. So the fifth one I wrote was just, there's no qualifications for being going to something like this. And I think I touched on this when we first started chatting about it, but it's there's no, you don't have to be any level, you don't have to have any experience. You don't have to, you have been, you don't have to run fast. Like there's nothing that will require you to, that you need to have a head time going in. I think even at this last camp, one of the campers or the retreats, um what do you want to call them? The one of them members who came had broken her ankle four weeks before and she was like, no, I'm gonna still go. And she was like a little bit like, should I still do this, I can't run at all. She still came, she had a great time. I walked with her one of the days because I wasn't running and it was great, we got to know each other, we chatted about a lot of different stuff and and so I was like that's a that's a good experience that she was able to come to a retreat and even if she's not able to participate in the running side of things, she can still get a lot out of it.

So there is no qualifications. You could be not training for a race, you could be training for a race, you could be coming off an injury or coming off a race. So there's no there's nothing that you have to be at personally in order for it to be a good experience to take something away from. So no doubt because I'm Andy one of the things that I had written down that didn't make the cut, but it sort of falls into this was how important I've realized that like, inspiration, motivation, all of that is in addition to, you know, kind of the physiological parts like training smart and eating ride and doing all the stuff right on the physiological, I used to not be that way. I used to think that kind of the need if I used to think that if you're someone who needs like big time motivation, inspiration or whatever, then that's weak. I used to think of that as a weakness that that people, you know who who didn't have the real fire or didn't really have the desire to do it. I've totally changed my tune on that because of stuff like retreats where you get together and it's not a bunch of like ra ra you know like a crazy seminar, you know, getting people to chant and and do weird stuff or whatever, but it's it's more like the inspiration that people will leave with is so fascinating to me, like people will will leave the retreat with this crazy enthusiasm and just optimism for their running.

And I don't like maybe some people would look at that and say that that's like fake or that that's kind of that guru type stuff, they can think that all they want, I see it and it's powerful, it is absolutely powerful the way that people will feel after leaving our retreats, they'll get there and think, okay, I'm gonna learn X. Y and z. I'm gonna do some cool runs, I'm gonna have whatever and they leave with something that you can't really quantify. You know, you can't really put it into an Excel spreadsheet like what you're gonna get out of this and I'm not saying every person does some people come, they learn X. Y. Z. They get the value out of it, that's great and maybe they don't want anymore. But other people they really get that synergy that that that energy that you, that you leave with, that you can't really, you know, you can't recreate that online necessarily. So that's one of the things that really has become one of my favorite parts of in person stuff. And I'm, I mean, you know, kind of like, I I didn't want to like over talk of like covid stuff because I mean, let's be honest, most people were just kind of ready to move on. But um, that's definitely something that I'm glad we're back to is like being able to have stuff in person that we can really feed off each other and and get that energy, that optimism, that inspiration that we get from the camps.

Yeah. Well guys, that's, I think that's everything we got. Um Andy we we definitely as we and and I knew that we were gonna be, we we each think of ourselves as kind of like ranters, like talkers. Um, and we lived up to that because we are at an hour and eight minutes. Anyone who's listening still listening, thank you so much for uh, for having us blasting in your ears for the last hour. We really appreciate it. This has been actually a lot of fun. And I think that we were gonna continue this format. We're gonna try some other topics out. And but we really wanted to kind of give people sort of like a sort of like a behind the scenes less like superstructure type approach. So if you have any feedback that you'd like to share, send either of us an email, Michael at runners connect dot net or, and, and or and e A N D I E at runners connect dot net. We'd love to hear from you guys. If you're interested in our retreats. By the way, runners connect dot net slash retreat, you can go in there and check out. We have a flag staff retreat coming up in the summer, I think we have a few spots left for that by the way. And then of course we'll have Orlando coming next year.

But anyway guys, thank you so much for listening. We had a great time and uh, we'll talk to you guys next time. Take care. Thanks for listening to the run to the top podcast. I'm your host, Finn Melanson. And as always, our mission here is to help you become a better runner with every episode. Please consider connecting with me on instagram at Wasatch Finn and the rest of our team at Runners connect. Also consider supporting our show for free with a rating on the Spotify and apple podcast players. And lastly, if you love the show and want bonus content behind the scenes experiences with our guests and premier access to contests and giveaways. Then subscribe to our newsletter by going to Runners connect dot net back slash podcast until next time. Happy trading

5 Lessons Learned from our 2023 Winter Running Retreat
5 Lessons Learned from our 2023 Winter Running Retreat
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