Run with Heart and Mind: Spain – Autumn 2024 retreat

Run with Heart and Mind

Stuart McLeod running a mountain trail in Teruel.

A retreat for growing with awareness

Re-energise and unwind on our five-day autumn trail running retreat in La Artiga in the stunning countryside of the Teruel region in North East Spain.

Daily guided trail runs in the hills and valleys of Spain’s least populated region will be balanced with a programme of yoga, tai chi and meditation, and with plenty of free time to relax and enjoy the peaceful surroundings.

As a collaboration between RUN:ZEN and Bodhiyoga, you will be guided in this retreat by two teachers with combined experience of practising and teaching running, yoga and mindfulness of more than fifty years.

Who is the retreat for?

We all need to step away from the stresses and strains of everyday life from time to time. If you’re looking to immerse yourself in beautiful natural surroundings in good company, while finding the right balance of a mixed programme of activities and relaxation, then this trail running retreat will be perfect for you.

Our daily runs will be at a relaxed pace and will include time for breaks and enjoying the scenery. The runs will vary in length from around 8 to 13 kilometres. The longest run will take about two and a half hours with breaks and rest. We will be running for four consecutive days, so participants will need to have a suitable level of fitness for running these distances.

No previous experience of yoga or tai chi is necessary.

The RUN:ZEN retreat participants from May 2024 standing out the accommodation in La Artiga.

The retreat programme

Our retreat schedule will include:

  • Trail running – incorporating Mindfulness for Runners: learning how to establish a foundation and focus to run mindfully.
  • Mindfulness Yoga – dynamic and restorative yoga sessions
  • Tai chi and qigong – easy-to-learn mindful movement.
  • Meditation – guided silent practices to help calm and focus the mind.
  • Free time – to explore your surroundings or simply relax and reset.

Through this combination of practices we will investigate together the value of developing skills in cultivating awareness, embodiment and relaxation.

We would like to stress that our retreats are not training camps in the more traditional sense. The days will be full and active, but the training really focuses on the state of mind we bring to all of our activities. In this way, we can learn to become more aware of our mind’s habits. In the case of running this can include those habitual thought processes that negatively impact our experience and performance, like a persistent habit to criticise, compare or judge ourselves harshly.

All of these tendencies can get in the way of the very enjoyment we may be seeking. Instead we will investigate the wellbeing benefits of learning to pay attention in the present moment no matter what activity we are engaged in.

The trail running explained

The path and trails around the venue are perfect for anyone wanting to run surrounded by nature.

The running will be varied, sometimes following the riverside path in the Vallee de Olba and passing through villages, but also includes hilly terrain with lots of climbing and descents.

The path surfaces vary from level, compacted earth through to rough, stony winding tracks – we strongly recommend that you bring trail shoes.

Practising mindfulness yoga

Example daily schedule

7.00 Wake up
7.30 Meditation + intro to the day’s theme
8.10 Breakfast / Pause and reflect
9.30 Tai Chi Movements
10.15 Mindful running
13.30 Lunch / Pause and reflect
14.30 Dynamic and Recuperative Mindful Yoga
16.00 Pause and reflect
18.30 Evening meal
19.45 Meditation and reflection
20.30 Free time

Our base

The retreat will be based at La Artiga, a beautifully restored rustic house that sits in a peaceful setting at the top of the valley of Olba, in Teruel.

Teruel, about an hour and twenty minutes from the city of Valencia is the least populated region in Spain. It is rugged, mountainous and wild.

The venue for the retreat has in its view Penyagolosa which is the highest mountain in the Valencia community region.

The rural houses at La Artiga, Teruel, Spain.
Taking a mindful pause crossing the Mijares RIver.

Taking time out

As well as resting in the characterful rustic house, there will be plenty of opportunity in your free time to immerse yourself in the beautiful natural surroundings. There are plenty of trails heading out from La Artiga if you want to have your own exploration.

About a 15 minute walk down from La Artiga is the River
 Mijares running through the Olba Valley. The river’s name comes from the word ‘thousand’. It is said to be a river that will never run dry as a thousand different waters flow into it.

Visits to the river will definitely be on the itinerary, and on warm days a dip in the cool clean waters of the river can quickly relieve a tired body.

“The retreat was really well organised and located in a beautiful, tranquil setting. We had some experience of yoga before and running for 5k (ish..) once or twice a week. The running was challenging for us but very rewarding. Stuart gave great advice on how to make the run more mindful and we never felt like we were holding the others back with our slower pace. 

 
It was our first experience of tai chi and we really appreciated how it focused our minds and body for the runs. The yoga teacher, Sadhita, was excellent and understood how to cater for everyone’s experience and needs. The reflection and meditation we did with the group (and what a lovely group of people it was!) deeply helped us learn more about our mind / body connection.
 

The retreat was well catered and offered a full timetable, which was good as it meant we only focused on ourself and the process. We came away with great enthusiasm for the RUN:ZEN concept and we will definitely be doing this again.”


(H&N – Run with Heart & Mind, May 2024)

“I lead a hectic life working in the charity sector, with a lot of responsibility and no time to stop and reflect. RUN:ZEN’s Run with Heart and Mind retreat in Spain turned out to be just what I needed.

Waking up to birdsong and meditation gently dissipated the stress of my normal life. Trail running was great for my mind and training, building up endurance and improving my technique. Daily yoga and tai chi rejuvenated me.

Stuart and Sadhita’s mindfulness teaching was perfectly balanced: informative, encouraging and enriching.

I came away reconnected to myself, a better runner, with new friends, stronger and more resilient.”

(J – Run with Heart & Mind, May 2024)

Retreat costs and accommodation

The full retreat fee includes accommodation; three meals a day with drinks and snacks available all day; and all tuition.


We will be staying in two adjoined beautifully restored rustic houses – Casa Peñablanca and Casa Pasteles – in the tiny settlement of La Artiga which sits at the top of the Olba Valley.


There is a choice of three types of accommodation.

The private ‘casita’ shared by two people – £1,869

The casita is a private independent dwelling with two double beds. It can accommodate a couple or two friends that want to share.

The casita has its own kitchen, toilet, shower, and all utensils. It also has a small seated area outside for relaxing and enjoying the beautiful natural surroundings.

Shared twin room – £719

The twin rooms are amply sized for the comfort of two people, and each room has wardrobe space.

Single room – £919

The single private rooms (with either a double bed or two singles) offer the comfort of your own space.

All rooms have a window view of the surrounding nature or the courtyard of the property.

You have the option of paying the full fee or a 30% deposit and then the remaining balance which is due 60 days before the start of the retreat.

Before booking, please familiarise yourself with our Retreat booking terms and conditions.

Catering

Food will be full board vegetarian. We will cater for special dietary requirements if requested prior to the start of the event. Please let us know beforehand.

Getting to La Artiga

The retreat fee does not include transfer to the retreat venue. The nearest airport is Valencia which is 70km from La Artiga. If you are travelling from the UK ir Ireland, there are direct flights to Valencia from London, Manchester and Dublin.

Taxi – The easiest option for co-ordinating everyone’s travel to La Artiga is to share a taxi which we will arrange for you. A return fare works out at around £55 per person. We will organise this closer to the time of the retreat.


Bus
–If you’d prefer to take a bus this costs about €10 one way from the bus station in the centre of Valencia and takes 1 hour 20 minutes. The bus stops about 15 minutes from La Artiga from where we can collect you.

If you need any support and advice with arranging your travel please let us know and we’d be happy to help.

Your teachers

Stuart McLeod

Stuart took up triathlon in 2005, before specializing in duathlon (run/bike/run). He went on to represent Great Britain as an age-group athlete at several international Championships.

He has been practicing meditation in the Chinese Zen Buddhist tradition for over two decades, teaching meditation and leading day retreats with the Western Chan Fellowship.

Stuart has participated in a variety of mindfulness programmes and is a Trained Teacher in Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) with Bangor University’s Centre for Mindfulness Research and Practice.

He is also a teacher of Tai Chi Movements for Wellbeing (TMW) and a qualified Qigong Instructor with Long White Cloud Qigong.

A key focus of Stuart’s personal practice centres upon the application of mindfulness techniques and skills as a means to help us re-inhabit our bodies, and he thinks there is no better way to this than through mindful running.

Sadhita

Sadhita is a yoga teacher and trainer of teachers and one of the key founders of the Bodhiyoga School of teacher training.

A Buddhist by training, the school was set up in 2012 to provide training and retreats to the public. To date, they have provided more than ten trainings and have many students all around the globe. Sadhita has trained  in Ashtanga, Hatha and Iyengar systems of yoga.

Since 2012 Sadhita has been involved in training people to become mindfulness based yoga teachers and has to date more than one hundred student teachers world wide.

From the years of practice, Sadhita recommends that yoga is a perfect adjunct to mindful running and will help any practitioner go deeper into their experience.

“As an informed meditator, runner and yoga practitioner, I have seen all of these practices deepen and take on new meaning through the systematic practice of mindfulness.”

Testimonials

What people say

Ruslan, London

This workshop revolutionized my running. I stopped listening to music whilst running and instead started paying attention to my feet, body and the surroundings. I started forefoot running and adjusted...

This workshop revolutionized my running. I stopped listening to music whilst running and instead started paying attention to my feet, body and the surroundings. I started forefoot running and adjusted my posture, which means I have been injury free since then. No more shin splints and itb pain.

Sara, Chatham

I am very interested in connecting mind with body and this course provided an ideal opportunity to explore that interest. The experience of running with a different mindset and attitude...
I am very interested in connecting mind with body and this course provided an ideal opportunity to explore that interest. The experience of running with a different mindset and attitude was revealing.

Rachel Chatham

Brilliant! This brings a whole new dynamic to my running which will overflow into daily life.
Brilliant! This brings a whole new dynamic to my running which will overflow into daily life.

Janet, London

Great experience and well designed content, delivered in a thoughtful and sensitive way.
Great experience and well designed content, delivered in a thoughtful and sensitive way.

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