Retreat Recap: Run Voyages, Sonoma

When Adam, the owner of Run Voyages, invited me to attend his running/yoga retreat in wine country this winter, I immediately jumped at the opportunity- a weekend of running, yoga, and wine, a midst a beautiful backdrop with people who also enjoy all the same things?!  Sign me up! With the running sessions being led by Magda Boulet (recent Western States 100 winner and Olympic athlete) and the yoga sessions led by Reba Gray (a very well known Bay Area yogi), I knew I was in good hands and happily packed all of my best active-wear and headed to Sonoma for a fabulous weekend filled with food, fitness, and friends.

Unfortunately, I was a little too carefree and careless during a trip to our cabin the weekend prior to the Run Voyages retreat.  I went sledding late at night, in the dark, and somehow severely pulled my right adductor muscle- very painful and I could barely walk on it so I knew there was no way I was going to be able to run at the retreat. Boo. Surrounded by fellow runners, however, everyone sympathized and understood (and only laughed at me a little bit- who gets a sledding injury?!?!?) and I was able to still really and truly enjoy the weekend nevertheless! And what a FABULOUS weekend it was!

3 cheers for our wonderful instructors, Magda and Reba! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

Day 1 – Friday, December 11
3:00pm-5:00pm Arrive and Check-in at Sonoma Mission Inn & Spa
5:00pm Event check-in (hotel lobby)
5:30pm Shakeout Run (2-4 miles) (meet in hotel lobby)
6:30pm Cooldown Yoga (45 min) (Yoga Studio at the Spa)
7:30pm Weekend overview, introductions, dinner

I arrived to the Sonoma Mission Inn just before the 5:30pm shake-out run, introduced myself, and nearly screamed in happiness when Magda began taking us through a series of dynamic pre-run stretches.  I did as much as I could on my injured leg and as everyone headed out for the run, I followed behind and walked/limped 15 minutes out and back, headlamp bouncing on down the dark street.

Can’t run, can walk!

Met everyone back at the Mission Inn fitness studio and settled into a very relaxing and gentle yoga session with Reba- some light stretching was just what my leg needed!  It felt really great to do yoga at night, and with a smaller Friday group, Reba was able to help everyone out with certain poses and help correct form, akin to a personal one-on-one yoga session.  I was able to talk to Reba about my injury and get some great advice going into the weekend on what to focus on (light stretching- ahhh) and what to avoid (running- sigh).

Nighttime Namaste

Nighttime Namaste

After yoga, Adam reviewed the schedule for the next day then we headed off to one of my favorite restaurants in Sonoma, El Molino Central.  Known for their scrumptious and artful Mexican food, it was a struggle for everyone to decide on a dish with so many great options. I settled on the swiss chard enchiladas, a glass of local Pinot Noir, and we all settled in under the outdoor heater to chat with each other as well as Adam, Reba, and Magda. The entire weekend was like this- intimate and accessible, breaking bread with these amazing coaches as well as getting to know my fellow retreat goers was just so much fun!

Dinner of Champions

Dinner of Champions (PC: Run Voyages)

 Day 2 – Saturday, December 12
7:30am Saturday arrivals, event check-in, breakfast (Carneros Suite)
8:30am Morning Yoga
9:15am Coaching
10:00am Long Run (two distance options)
12:00pm Group Lunch
1:00pm Free time
5:00pm Yoga
5:45pm Coaching

Day 2 was kicked off with a yummy breakfast and downpour- it was raining so much that Adam was considering bumping the run to later in the day, hoping the rain would eventually clear up.  Since there were more people in attendance on Saturday, breakfast became a very interesting group discussion about running in the rain- some love it, some hate, some said the treadmills were looking more and more appealing, and we all shared stories of our most inclement weathered runs. All the people at the retreat were strangers to me but once we started talking running and racing with each other in such a relaxing and intimate setting, everyone easily became very fast friends!

After breakfast, everyone grabbed a map to the run then headed to the yoga studio to workout with Reba.  After yoga, we sat in a circle with Magda and introduced ourselves.  Magda then led a discussion about running goals, how to set them, how to keep them, how to stay consistent. She told us about her running background and transition from road marathons to the trail ultras. Magda’s running story is completely fascinating and surprisingly relate-able even as a novice, I learned so much from Magda in a very short amount of time!  She opened the floor up to questions and everyone got to ask about stretching, training, cross training, nutrition, racing, ultra distances. To learn from someone so humble, friendly, and accomplished at our sport was an experience I will never forget!

All the yoga, all the time! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

All the yoga, all the time! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

Me and yogi Reba! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

Me and yogi Reba! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography

Run coaching by Magda! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

The rain cleared up and Magda led the group for a road run, participants chose either a 6 or 9 mile point to point route.  After talking with Magda and thinking about MY own running goals, I opted out of the run to hang out with family and ice my leg.  My retreat buddies told me it was a really great post-rain run, fairly hilly, but beautiful and lunch following at the Hopmonk Tavern was especially yummy and fun.

PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography

Magda leading pre-run dynamic stretches! (PC: Jennifer Leahy Photography)

After another heavenly evening yoga session with Reba, Magda led us in a discussion on sports nutrition. As a product developer for Gu Energy, she went into a lot of detail about the different types of Gu (training, racing, recovery) products, how she incorporates them into her own running and why. Then Magda handed us what she called “our new best friend”- a thick, nylon rope about 6 feet long, and took us through another series of stretches.  She encouraged us to keep the rope with us and stretch, at least once if not a few times a day, every day.

I was listening so intently that it didn’t even occur to me to take a picture at this point!  Sports nutrition as well as stretching for injury prevention are two topics that I think and read a LOT, maybe even too much, about.  I have always had GI issues when running the road, it has always been hard to eat while running but I learned from Magda that simpler is better. You don’t need fancy foods, you don’t need to eat a lot, but you do need to make a fueling plan, and you need to practice that plan if you want to get it right on race day. Our bodies need simple calories to endure the miles and we must train ourselves to be efficient in this if we want to also be efficient with our miles.

Day 3 – Sunday, December 13
7:00am Morning Pre-Run Yoga (Yoga Studio)
8:00am Breakfast, coaching and discussion
10:00am Meet in lobby to carpool to run location –  Jack London Historic State Park
11:30am Hydrate and stretch post-run
12:00pm Closing session and wrap-up

Sunday morning, retreat day 3, began with a 7am yoga session which, as Adam said, didn’t sound very awesome when the alarm went off at 6:30am however as soon as we started, it felt fantastic!  Surprisingly, my leg was feeling a lot better so I was able to sink more into the poses and Reba’s instruction.  Reba teaches here in Oakland and Berkeley as well so I plan to continue learning from her as I realized yoga a truly integral part of my training, I need the regular practice in strengthening through stretching to keep my muscles loose and relaxed. Plus, it just feels SO good!!!  If you are here in the Bay Area, be sure to check out her site and join me for a class with Reba sometime soon!

Off to breakfast and another intimate coaching session and Q & A with Magda wherein she shared even more valuable training tips then took us outside to practice about 6 different warm-up drills (that I was actually able to do without pain!).   The next event was the final run of the retreat so I hung back and chatted with Magda for a bit, thanking her for her fantastic expertise, for the great tips, and for the inspiration to run my first ultra.  (Yes, I said it. Yes, I am considering it. Yes, I need a new challenge. Yes, I am crazy!)

But before I say goodbye, one last shot and hug with Magda!

But before I say goodbye, one last shot and hug with Magda!

This retreat with Run Voyages was very fun, incredibly informative and I got a LOT out of it even though I was unable to participate in the group runs. Being a small group (maybe 25 people at most), we were all able to talk to Magda, Reba, and Adam one-on-one and truly get some great advice and help with our running concerns and goals. We shared racing anecdotes, we laughed together, and raised our glasses in cheers to such a fabulous weekend! Every person I met at the retreat I connected with after wards on social media, including Magda and Reba- neat!

If you have ever wanted to treat yourself to a personal training experience in a great city with good people, delicious food and stellar instructors, look no further than Run Voyages and clear your calendar for the spring retreat. Location and dates TBD for now but be sure to follow Run Voyages on Facebook and stay tuned!  It truly is one The Best athletic experiences I have ever had and I can’t wait for the next one!

Day 3, happy running through the trails of wine country! (PC: Run Voyages)

Day 3 and the final run through the breathtaking trails of the Sonoma wine country- just look at those happy running faces! (PC: Run Voyages)

Have you ever participated in a retreat like this?  If so, what did you like the most about it?  What would you have changed?  And if not, why not?  Is this something you would consider in the future? What locations throughout California (with exemplary running trails, hotels, and food) do you think would be a perfect fit for a retreat like this?

2 thoughts on “Retreat Recap: Run Voyages, Sonoma

    1. Laura Post author

      YES!!! Please join for the next one, Kristen! Learning from the best of the best in such an intimate setting is so valuable- I think every athlete should treat themselves to a retreat like this at least once!


What do you think?