More Than I Expected

Amy Schuck had a truly transformative experience at Dream Run Camps. in these reflections, written on the plan home from Flagstaff, Amy shares that the bonds she formed with other people at Dream Run Camp allowed her to see new possibilities for herself.

By Amy Schuck

I attended Dream Run Camp from 2/12-3/1/24. I consider myself a new runner. I ran cross country in high school, always at the back of the pack. Since then, I was essentially sedentary until late April 2023 when I started running semi-consistently. I ran my first 10k in August, first half marathon in November, and am now training for my first marathon at Big Sur on April 28.

At Dream Run Camp, life was so simple. Removed from the distractions of the world, I could simply wake up, train, work remotely, attend Coach office hours, and connect with the amazing people in the Dream House.

The People

DRC somehow manages to bring together top-notch human beings of exceptional character. I love, respect, and look up to every runner I met during my short 3 weeks here.

Dhani arrived just a day before I did, and we were the only two runners there for about a week. We immediately clicked. We shared a sense of humor, and I was impressed by his intelligence, kindness, and discipline. He asked intriguing questions during office hours, ran with me during his easy runs even though he’s way faster than me, and maintained his 1000+ day streak despite a bout of food poisoning. Dhani proved to me that qualifying for Boston is possible with discipline and consistency. He was a great mentor to me, and we will definitely be friends for life.

Jason arrived about a week later. He is a high school principal from NYC who finished multiple marathons despite never quite reaching the recommended mileage to train for one. Jason was a true go-getter, joining us for hill sprints during his first full day at altitude and running every day during his short week at DRC. Jason shattered my assumptions that you needed to train a certain way to finish a marathon, and that running more than your body is used to would immediately result in injury. The way he tackled and conquered every workout despite not being exactly “prepared” to do so was absolutely inspiring.

Renee, an experienced Dutch trail runner, joined us next. I was surprised that someone would travel internationally just for this camp but quickly learned why she did so. Flagstaff is just an amazing place to train for high-performing athletes, and DRC offers everything one would need to make the most of their time there. It was eye-opening to see someone at her level live and train. And despite being better than all of us, she was always humble and willing to help and support us, even pacing and encouraging me through a hard interval workout.

The last runners I met during my camp were Ian and Susan, a trail-running couple in their 60s. They provided me with living proof of how healthy and fast you could be at that age if you just keep running. I barely kept up with Susan on the trails. During my last run, Dhani and I had the privilege of pacing Susan through some 800m intervals, my first time pacing somebody! Here, I finally experienced how in running with, encouraging, and helping someone else achieve their goals is every bit as fulfilling as achieving your own goals.

My teammates knew that one of my goals in running is to break tape and win a race. At the end of my last stride, they created “tape” by holding a jacket across my path that I got to break. I crossed it, signifying completing my last run of the camp, and was immediately moved to tears.

Coach Matt

It’s so rare in adult life to have this kind of opportunity, to go to an environment so open and supportive that it facilitates such strong bonds amongst complete strangers who in theory only have one thing in common: we love running enough to go to a running camp. While I do believe that distance runners are generally supportive people who comprise an awesome community, I don’t think that’s the biggest factor. The magic of Dream Run Camp comes from Coach Matt Fitzgerald. He emulates openness and vulnerability, along with the perfect touch of that carefree attitude so that everyone is comfortable being themselves and being the best version of themselves.

I’ve been struggling to unpack why I am so sad to leave this place, to the point where it severely affected my sleep during my last few nights. Real life is complicated. There are unknowns beyond waking up and training and socializing. I have more commitments. There are endless ruts to find yourself stuck in. Over the past year, I’ve used running to improve myself and stay grounded to great effect. One common thread amongst all the teachings that Coach Matt gave us is that being a great runner requires you to be a great person– someone deeply in touch with your body and mind with the ability to self-regulate all aspects. In a way, Dream Run Camp is a tiny bubble that demonstrates what could be if everyone was doing their best to become the best version of themselves. Leaving that bubble and facing reality again is hard, but my experience at the camp has given me the inspiration and tools to tackle life with a renewed purpose and different outlook.

Thanks, Matt, for starting this camp, and giving me the experience of a lifetime.

Let's dream big together

Have you ever dreamed of being a professional runner, or at least living like one for a period of time? Stop dreaming and come to Dream Run Camp!

Inspired by Matt Fitzgerald’s book Running the Dream, which chronicles his experience as a “fake professional runner” with Flagstaff, Arizona-based HOKA Northern Arizona Elite team, Dream Run Camp is the first and only pro-style training camp that welcomes runners of all abilities.

Pine Tree Giff

High-altitude Training

Take your running to a whole new level by training in the beautiful, high-altitude runners’ paradise of Flagstaff, Arizona

House Giff

Make yourself at home

At Dream House we have a state-of-the-art runners’ retreat equipped with a full gym, a recovery lounge, a spa pool, trail access, and more. Hang out and learn from with world-renowned author and Dream Camp coach-in-residence Matt Fitzgerald.

Running shoe

Custom Training Packages

Work one-on-one with elite strength coaches, dietitians, sports psychologists, injury experts and massage therapists.

Our Partners

Hypo 2
Hypo 2
Strong strides
The Feed
Hoka NAZE Logo
Evolve Flagstaff Logo