LAKE TAHOE, Calif., July 5-12
Written by Gary St. Onge
Edited by Sharon St. Onge
My journey to running camp began in late May when I decided to
do something for myself that I knew I was going to enjoy. I decided
to investigate running camps, so I went online and started the search.
Craftsbury, Vermont, Ashfield, North Carolina, and Lake Tahoe seemed
to settle in my mind as the best but for different reasons. I finally
settled on Jeff Galloway’s running camps as his was the most
diversified with all of the “experts” he uses to cover
all aspects of the running gamut from nutrition to sports physiology.
I sent them my check to cover the cost of a single room, meals and
all the lectures with Galloway and his panel of experts.
Camp ran from July 5th to July 12th, with opening day at the Squaw
Valley Lodge with a 5pm get acquainted run before dinner. We traded
names and running stats as we jogged the road thru Squaw Valley
to the Route 89 turn off. Galloway imported three people from his
Phidippides running store in Atlanta to assist with running groups
at camp as well as giving advice and tips on proper shoe selection.
Andrew, Greg and Gretchen… they were the best, all excellent
runners, all very friendly and extremely knowledgeable people. Also
present to help was Jeff’s wife, Barbara and their two sons
who are both college runners.
Each day began at 6am for a different run somewhere. We would carpool
to a location and everyone would run an out and back course of their
own ability. Thirty minutes out and thirty minutes back was the
rule…with plenty of walk breaks if necessary.
At 8am we would gather back at the Lodge for a catered breakfast
with the usual running food on the menu. Varieties of bagels, muffins,
fruit, yogurt, cereal, juices and coffee were present. After breakfast
each day was an interactive lecture with Jeff and/or his experts.
They were Dr. Gary Moran; sports physiology, Dr. Vaughn; nutrition
and inventor of GU, Bob Anderson; Stretching, Sister Marion; qualified
for Olympic trials at age 54, Joe Henderson; writer Runner’s
World and his own books, Dr Dave Hannaford; Sports Podiatrist (and
a very serious runner about to take on the 135 mile Badwater race
in Death Valley) and I hope I haven’t left anyone out.
We had running form analysis by Galloway and Dave Hannaford, Dr.
Vaughn hooked us up to the Omega machine to calculate VO2 max, anaerobic
threshold and recovery heart rate. We did stretching with Bob Anderson
who taught us not to overstretch but to learn to keep the flexibility
we have, and received several doses of crosstraining from Gary Moran.
It was a jam-packed week. At noon we would have a runner’s
lunch and then at one o’clock venture out in the Tahoe area
for more hiking, running, swimming, biking or anything else we wanted
to do. Back at Camp for a 6pm dinner together and an evening of
movies (Badwater and Western States 100 miler), weight training,
hot tubs, swimming pool or maybe all of the above. Three of the
nights we were left to fend for ourselves and enjoy the local Tahoe
cuisine and make closer friends by more car pooling and negotiating
for restaurant fare.
The best run of the week had to be Monday morning when we decided
to run the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) from Donner Lake to Squaw Valley.
This was about 15 miles across some very rugged terrain of the Sierra
Nevada’s at an elevation of 9000 feet. It took about three
miles of pushing myself hard then my body seemed to get the hang
of the high altitude. We hit a page groove for a couple of miles
then moved up in elevation again- so did my heart rate and breathing.
The views up there were as breathtaking as the elevation. There
were acres and acres of wildflowers with the PCT running smack through
the middle of them. The trail went from boney rocks to packed dirt
to loose gravel and back to boney several times. At times we were
in the woods and at times we were traversing steep precipices. It
was totally awesome. For this entire distance I was with Greg and
Gretchen from Phidippides. They were great to me and I sandwiched
myself right between them…I did not know the way and Greg
had run it the year before.
One day I tried my hand at running Jeff’s youngest son into
the ground, but for this 52 year old, he was a little too much.
I guess that’s why Wake Forest chose him as their newest freshman
on their track team. Westin will be a great asset to them. Jeff
has coached him well! Other days I ran with Jeff or other campers.
One day I actually took it easy. It amazed them as well!
On Thursday evening, came the awards ceremony. This is where the
seasoned campers, Galloway included, find unusual gifts and discuss
things they heard or witnessed to signify their impressions of the
junior campers. All of the humor was in good taste and enjoyed by
all. I was personally presented a free form running log (writing
tablet) with a picture of the Tasmanian devil on the cover as well
as a bag of Atomic Fire Balls signifying my speed up and down the
mountainous trails of Lake Tahoe.
But besides the great running, good food, interesting lectures from
all the experts, what made running camp so successful for me was
the other campers. We had 16 women and 9 men from all over the USA
joined together and we were all on the same page…morning,
noon and night, breakfast, lunch, and dinner, and all we talked
about was our running experiences. I would highly recommend Jeff
Galloway’s running camp from the very novice runner to the
very experienced. You will get out of it exactly what you put into
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