When Olympian Colleen Quigley plans a vacation, her thoughts aren’t just about which tourist sites to visit. Instead, she first focuses on where she can do her two daily workouts and where to find foods with the nutrition she needs.
Even in the offseason, the Team USA track and field star, who placed eighth in the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics and is a world record holder in the four-by-1,500-meter relay, must put training first. “‘Offseason,’” she said, “is a misnomer because I’m always training, but it means I’m not competing.”
“There’s always a little bit of underlying stress of where am I going to get my training in and when am I getting it?” Quigley said. For a recent 10-day trip to France for her 30th birthday with her fiancé, Quigley worried about finding places she could bike, run and swim in Paris, Lyon and Versailles. “I basically have to work for two hours every morning before we can start the day and go to a museum or go to lunch. Before we can be tourists, I have to work.”
While her fiancé sought out the hottest restaurants, Quigley made sure she had healthier options than croissants and cassoulet.
But Quigley found a getaway that combined her yen for travel and her training needs as she prepares to qualify for the 2024 Olympics in Paris. She recently took a solo trip to Sensei Lanai, A Four Seasons Resort, a secluded wellness retreat. Quigley was invited by Whoop (a company that makes watch-band-like health trackers) to participate in Sensei Lanai’s Optimal Wellbeing Program. As part of the five-day-minimum program, you receive a Whoop device two weeks before the visit, which allows the tracker to get acquainted with your body so that your Sensei guide can better tailor a personalized itinerary.
“I’m the type of person who says, ‘I want to do that and that and that!’ And I’ll jam-pack my day, but I also have to do training for my coach,” she said. “I’m trying not to be like that.” For that reason, Quigley’s guide didn’t overbook her while still obliging her requests to focus on yoga and meditation with one-on-one classes.
Her guide set up a session with a heart rate variability expert who showed the runner different breathing techniques. “Heart rate variability is basically the balance of your parasympathetic, which is your rest-and-digest, calming, restorative part of your autonomic nervous system, and then your sympathetic nervous system is your flight-or-flight; work out; go, go, go; your dilated; your stimulated part of the nervous system,” Quigley explained. “For athletes like me, we live in the sympathetic nervous system, where it’s go, go, go a lot. We have to be really good about switching between the two.”
The guide added a surprise to the itinerary, aquatic bodywork, something she’d never heard of before. In a Watsu pool, Quigley closed her eyes and laid on her back, as the instructor guided her through rhythmic motions. “It reminded me of doing a float tank with saltwater that’s the same temperature of your body,” she said. “You just float and meditate. It feels like you’re in the ocean.” She also enjoyed soaking in the Lanai hotel’s onsen garden, 10 secluded soaking tubs carved into rocks that’s open to all guests. “I went after dinner and took my little Beam Dream CBD sleep drink up there, and I’d do a little 10-minute hot tub,” she said. “They are magical at night, but you need to bring a flashlight because it’s pitch black.”
In addition, Quigley received a massage and then free time in one of the spa hales (“ha-lays”), expansive villas each equipped with its own infrared sauna, steam room, bathroom, shower, Japanese ofuro tub, outdoor onsen pools and alfresco rain shower. “The spa hales were insane. I’ve never seen anything like that before, where you can get personal access to it where no one is going to bother you for an hour. I’m never going to be able to go to a regular spa again,” she said with a laugh.
Of course, Quigley maintained her workouts. Sensei offers a top-of-the-line gym with Peloton bikes, weights, treadmills and ellipticals, but she ran around the tiny 141-square-mile island. “I could just put my headphones in and go down any of these roads and see where they take me,” she said. “One day I went out of the hotel and to the right, and it took me a couple miles out and I got this amazing view of the whole ocean.”
Quigley managed to fit in other activities, including a snorkeling trip and a hike. She also rode the complimentary shuttle to visit sister property Four Seasons Resort Lanai for a beach day (Sensei Lanai sits upcountry away from the ocean). “It’s definitely a different vibe,” she said. “It felt more like Mexico, like Cabo. It’s 11 a.m. and people are drinking mimosas and getting after it, whereas Sensei is much smaller and quieter. It’s adults only.” The athlete had dinner at Four Seasons’ ONE FORTY steakhouse as well.
At Sensei, Quigley dined at its only restaurant, Sensei by Nobu. Although she abstains from alcohol while training, nothing else is off-limits, including dessert. “I am a big advocate of enjoying good food,” she said. “I definitely don’t eat everything I want, but I try not to be so restrictive that I’m miserable.” Nobu, she said, made it easy for her with its healthy yet satisfying fare. “Even if I just got oatmeal, it was so good. It was steel-cut oats that were creamy,” she said. “The quality of food is really important to me and that was amazing to have Nobu at your front door for every meal.”