Do you like to Bike or Train in the Heat?

Every athlete has her preference when it comes to training and racing conditions. I mean, sure, I doubt any of us actually hope for lightning (or sleet or 30 mph winds or 115° heat) … but I do know people who seem to positively thrive in hot, humid conditions.

They find it easier to warm up, their muscles are primed for performance from the very start, and they somehow get away with just a little sip of water or sports drink now and again, despite the fact that other people out there have lost at least 45 pounds of water weight.

I’m … not one of those people. And yet, I live in Florida, which many affectionately call The Sunshine State. A far more accurate nickname would be The Unrelenting Summer Sauna State That Just Won’t GIVE IT REST ALREADY JEEZ.

Hot Weather Dog

Just a suggestion. The tourism board can take it or leave it.

After growing up in Michigan, braving those winters and icy roads and Halloween costumes that had to be designed around wearing a winter coat and boots because it’s entirely likely that we’ll be trick-or-treating through a few inches of Jack Frost’s best, don’t cha know, I initially felt nothing but relief to arrive in the south.

Cold Weather

Well, relief, and a large trickle of sweat dripping straight down my crack, despite the fact that it was barely spring. (I ignored this omen, but, in my defense, I was 20 years old, I was not yet a runner or triathlete, and I honestly had no idea what I was doing in any regard whatsoever.)

These days, when I tell people where I live, I generally get one of the following responses:

  1. Do you go to the beach every day? (No. But I try.)
  2. Aren’t you afraid of hurricanes? (I’m more afraid of running out of wine during the hurricane party, to be honest, but some of ‘em are a little frightening.)
  3. So you can just train outdoors all year round, huh? (Well … that depends on your definition of “can.”)

Question #3 comes from runners and triathletes, as I’m sure you already guessed, you smarty pants. And it’s totally fair, because when non-Floridians think of reasons they can’t train outside, they’re usually thinking of, you know, winter – snow, ice, slush, sleet, freezing temperatures, 4 p.m. sunsets …

(Wow, Florida is starting to sound a bit better, isn’t it? HOLD MY BEER.)

It’s true that I can get out for a run or a ride pretty much all winter. I can even swim outdoors (in a heated pool, of course) on New Year’s Day. But all that winter training joy comes at a price, which I pay a few months later, and it’s called Summer.

Many of you are no doubt enjoying the glorious bounty that this season bestows upon your fine city – sunlight, warm breezes, beach days. However, summer here is the time when I hide indoors between the hours of 8 a.m. and 6 p.m., cranking up the air conditioning and blowing six fans on me as I crank out a trainer ride rather than face the melting heat of the asphalt.

Don’t believe me? You don’t have to take my word for it, because I’ve come up with __ delightful ways to get that tropical Florida training experience wherever you might be.

  1. Take a soft, fluffy towel, then soak it in water. Place it in the dryer – on high – for long enough to guarantee maximum hotness but not so long as to actually begin drying the towel. Remove towel from the dryer, wrap it around your face, and go for a run. Yes, that breathing/swallowing sensation is one of our signature experiences.
  2. Go to a hot yoga class – but instead of doing yoga, just run laps. It’s fine. Nobody will notice. Nama-stay vigilant and don’t slip on your own sweat. It’s a real threat!
  3. Preheat your oven to 375° Set your bike trainer up directly in front of it, then open the oven door. Embrace the scalding heat as you pedal in place.
  4. Got a training buddy who’s game to help you out? Ask her to hide in a tree with a bucket of water, then, when you run under it, to dump it all over you. Because did I mention the random afternoon storms? They’re fun. Take things to the next level (because I know how you roll) and ask them to throw branches of varying sizes at you as well, and maybe even hit you with a live wire (low voltage, natch) now and again, because these storms aren’t just wet – they’re windy and you just never know where lightning is going to strike.
  5. Sit in a cool room that has no annoying bugs and very low humidity. Grab a chilled glass of rosé and put your feet up. Now, imagine the exact opposite of that. Welcome to training in Florida!

Of course, I wouldn’t be here 18 years after crossing the state line if there wasn’t plenty to love. March is really quite lovely. But I’m also aware that no place is utterly perfect year round – so, let’s hear it on social. Where do you live, and what are the best/worst things about training there?

About the Author

Kristen is a busy (and very funny) woman. She's a writer, a certified triathlon coach, a pet lover and she runs Fit Bottomed Girls which is a site dedicated to empowering women to live a healthy lifestyle.

Kristen Seymour


Reginald Holden