Saunas, steam baths and running

Last weekend I was invited by my friend Paola to her family’s vacation home in the mountains along the Italian-Austrian border, along with six other runner friends. It was to be a whole weekend of swimming, running and visiting the various Wellness Centres in the area. She had me as soon as I heard the words “Wellness Centre”.

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I’ve always dreamed of going to a posh spas for a week, like Canyon Ranch in Utah or one of the Banyan Tree resorts. But the price tag has always been out of my budget. And even if I could, I’d spend the whole time calculating how many pairs of running shoes I could have bought with the same money!

We madethe three hour drive up to Brunico Friday morning. After a light lunch we headed to the first spa, Cron4.

I started going to saunas and steam baths as an adolescent but it was always a tiny sauna or one-room Turkish baths. Cron4 had six saunas and four infrared heat rooms. The saunas were set at various temperatures from 80° to 100°. One has program called Aufguss where a Aufguss professional whirls towels around the sauna room while increasing the heat by throwing snowballs infused with essential oils into the heat sources. After ten minutes of the Aufguss I had a delirious high.

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Outside you could jump into an icy swimming pool. Inside they had steam baths, Kneipp pools and mud mask stations. We stayed  for over five hours and lay down in the relax room before leaving for dinner.

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The next day we went on a nine mile run down a bike path that ended at another Wellness Center.  I won’t expand, just know that it was another day of the same bliss!

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Sunday morning we went up to 1800 metres for a walk on the snow. The snow was well packed so no slipping or stepping up to your hip in snow.

sauna_4

After just 48 hours of swims, saunas, steam baths and running I came home totally chillax and stayed that way for days. Last night I went running and after downloading my Garmin I saw my average pace was at a really good clip. I knew that heat therapy would reduce stress, but Dr. Google says that it also stimulates metabolism and muscles too. Shabam!

Entry into the Wellness Center was a mere €24 for the whole day. Now I know I don’t have to spend millions or fly across the world to get a spa fix. For a quickie I even found a center in my own town where I can go for a few hours and sweat it out. Plus, if it helps me to run faster… I’m in!