Running holidays: Vale do Serrao, Portugal

Photo by Juicy Oasis

It took nearly a year for a friend to persuade me to go on a juicing retreat. I love my food and the prospect of an entire week without a single morsel of the solid variety (or a single drop of wine) passing my lips did not appeal. Even when I finally signed up, I ignored the advice to spend the week beforehand detoxing, embarking instead on a last-chance magical mystery tour of public houses and fast food establishments the night before a 7am flight. So I was epically hungover when I arrived at the Juicy Oasis resort in Vale do Serrão, Portugal.

The format is simple: relax and enjoy as much (or as little) as you want of what’s on offer at the luxurious retreat built into a hillside overlooking a huge lake. Each day’s activity options were detailed on a whiteboard – they included lakeside treks, circuit sessions, personal training, spinning classes, beach volleyball, sunrise/sunset yoga and yes, runs. During the day we consumed nothing but four pints of fresh juice (a mix of fruit, veg and ingredients such as spirulina, using recipes concocted by the owner, ‘Juicemaster’ Jason Vale), water, herbal teas and the odd ginger shot.

The first 48 hours were trial by bloating, hunger, lethargy and caffeine withdrawal as my body adapted. Then, on day three, I emerged from this cocoon feeling full of beans and bounded down to ‘breakfast’ (something green) to knowing looks from the staff. By the end of the week I felt, as clichéd as it sounds, reborn. I was exercising five hours a day, including throwing myself around the beach volleyball court like I was auditioning for Top Gun 2. From day two I felt no hunger whatsoever, and on my return to the office I enjoyed approving comments on the visible change to my eyes, skin, mood and waistline; I’d shed 8.5lbs and three per cent body fat, the result of which was obviously a big boost to my running. Lighter, quicker, more efficient and full of energy, I finished all my runs feeling I could do more.

By the numbers

  • 0 meals eaten
  • 16 litres of juice consumed
  • 35 miles run
  • 8 hours spent in the Swedish steam cabin
  • 21 cups of fennel tea drunk
  • 23lb biggest weight loss by a guest in one week

The details

When: Year-round

Price: £795–£2,250 (depending on room) for seven nights, all inclusive except flights and transfer

Get there: British Airways flies to Lisbon from £120 return (britishairways.com)

Contact: juicyoasis.com