Runcation? What's a Runcation?

Sarah Robinson is an UnTapped athlete and mom of two. She lives and trains in Tacoma, Washington. Her specialities are the marathon and functioning on minimal sleep. Sarah mentioned to us recently that she was heading out on a European Runcation which seemed like a good reason for us to get the What, Who, Why, When, and Hows of a Runcation.  

When I signed up for the Albera Expeditions South of France Trail Runcation I had no idea what I was getting into. It took me completely out of my comfort zone. Aside from the fact that I’ve been running since the sixth grade, I’ve never been to Europe, I couldn’t have pointed to the Pyrenees on a map for a million dollars (oy, but I’m being honest), I’m a road runner who rarely trains on trail, and I have never once worn a hydration pack. I knew one thing, what nutrition I’d be bringing. I ordered two boxes of the Maple UnTapped. Because I figured “sharing is caring” is universal. And I’m not above buying run friends with syrup.

The first morning we were all up with the sun. After yoga on the lawn of our Villa in Argeles Sur Mer we chatted nervously over bread, meat, cheese and (so much) Nutella about the stage ahead of us. We’d be running 10-14 miles of mountains and coastal track. I hauled down my boxes of UnTapped and offered them up. Everyone excitedly grabbed handfuls for the week, because either they’d been wanting to try it or they were already hooked. I was glad I squirreled away 10 packs for myself because they were gone after that first breakfast!

And away the week went! 7 days later, my quads were shredded and my heart was full. Every day was packed with gorgeous (challenging) mileage, fun activities, amazing local food and wine, and deep sleeps. Looking back at pictures I find myself second guessing, “was all this ONE week?”

I got a lot of questions about the trip. And maybe you’re wondering if a runcation is for you. Obviously the experience will be unique to each runner but after my first week long trail runcation here’s the breakdown I can offer up.

WHAT

Complete cultural immersion as translated through running.

WHO

A runcation is for anyone who loves to run and travel. Anyone. You don’t need to be a certain pace, or elite, or even seasoned. Each runcation that Albera plans comes with a training plan to get you fit to optimize your experience. In France, strength and optimism was key.

WHY

To push your boundaries, immerse yourself in culture through running and adventure, meet new friends, fall back in love with running, fall deeper in love with running, reset your creative mojo, connect with yourself, connect with the earth, to get in shape, to see places and vistas you’ve never seen, to earn the views, laugh hard, sleep deep… there are endless whys.

WHEN

Plan to do a runcation in your off-season if you’re a competitive runner. Either 10 - 6 weeks out from your race or during a base building phase. Anytime you’re not obsessing over exact splits and workouts.

Give yourself at least 6 weeks to train for the runcation. By training I mean base mileage of 30+ miles a week. Incorporate a day on trails if possible and a day of hill repeats. Also get those ankles strong!

HOW

There are a number of guided runcations available. Runcation Travel, Rogue Running Expeditions, but I can’t say enough about Albera Expeditions. They are nearly half the price of the Rogue expeditions and the trip included more such as a private chef at the Villa creating absurd meals, all alcohol was included, gorgeous accommodations in Argeles Sur Mer complete with a pool, all transportation, meals out a wineries after nearly every stage, and on and on. Also it is planned down to the finest minute detail by locals of the area, so you don’t feel like a tourist, you feel like a friend.

Alternative to a guided runcation, you can always just grab a group of your run friends and plan your own!

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A big thank you goes out to Sarah for helping spread #mapletothemasses. You can follow her at @thatsarahmac.