Warm weather training, Florida style

I have just recently become acquainted with the concept of warm weather training. All the elites are doing it; Tina Muir writes about it here.

When I first heard the term, I had to give a double-take. I mean, isn’t the point of training at a competitive, dare I say, “elite” level to maximize your suffering? To be better at it than everyone else? I know that when I’m running on these cold, dark and soaking wet mornings in the Pacific Northwest I’m suffering. And more than a little part of me has been hoping that’s making me a little tougher. What’s with this namby-pamby warm-weather stuff?

But who am I to question the pros? Turns out, I was about to be on the forefront of a newfangled training philosophy. We took advantage of a short school break last weekend to visit my father-in-law who is spending a couple months this winter on the Atlantic coast of Florida. The overnight flight to save a school/work/conference day seemed like a much better idea in theory than it felt in practice.

But the lack of sleep quickly paid off. I would have flown anywhere to get this picture.

Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

How else would the kids know what to do when they encounter wild animals?

Believe it or not, there are actual wild armadillos just hanging out by the side of the road at Canaveral National Seashore.

And then there were these wild animals, who despite the rain on our first day, frolicked on the beach.

New Smyrna Beach, Florida

I love this shot I got of three generations searching for shells.

Canaveral National Seashore, Florida

From a running perspective it was great to get out on a bright, sunny morning in a t-shirt and shorts. Haven’t done that since last fall. I had to replace a 5 x 800m track workout with a 5 x 3:00 tempo run and the straight, flat road that ran along the beach made the swap a piece of cake.

Yes, the sun was nice and I can see how the warm weather would make the drudgery of winter running more palatable. But I’m not sure that those of use stuck in northern climes are missing all that much. We’re suffering more! Surely that’s giving us some sort of leg up, no?

Florida beaches

Of course, this is nice too.

After a sunny day on the beach we headed south to Kennedy Space Center.

Kennedy Space Center, Florida

What a cool place. The exhibits were so well done and even though we only had a few hours to spend there, it was well worth the trip. It hadn’t occurred to me how little the kids know about the space shuttle program. The Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibit was a fantastic presentation that used a movie, a full-scale replica of the shuttle stack, and even a launch simulator to tell the story. Even the uninterested 8-year-old had no choice but to come around on this one.

Finally we wrapped up the trip with a day at Universal Orlando and Islands of Adventure, primarily to see the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. Mike and I are not huge amusement park fans, but they really did a bang-up job with the Harry Potter stuff.

Wizarding World of Harry Potter, Orlando, Florida

It was just like being in the books or movies, down to the smallest detail. Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade were meticulously recreated, with all things Potter available for purchase: wands from Ollivander’s, chocolate frogs from Honeyduke’s, food from the Leaky Cauldron. High on my list of things to try: the butterbeer. Go for the blended frozen option, it’s really good.

Butterbeer, Universal Orlando, Florida

The rides were cool too, they just made me feel old. I don’t know when my inner ear crapped out on me, but it doesn’t take much these days to put me over the edge. And it will forever remain a mystery to me, in the vein of socks in the dryer, why my forever carsick kid can spend an entire day riding the giant crazy rides without once complaining about nausea. I’m starting to think I’m being played.

And then it was Monday and time to get back to reality. As I sit here back home listening to the rain falling outside and getting my headlamp and reflector vest ready for tomorrow’s run, I can’t help but wish for the sun and beach. But without the suffering can you really appreciate the coming of spring? That first run when you can bare your arms and legs and feel the sun on your face? (For us in Seattle that’s like, what, May?) It’s just not as victorious when you’ve had it all along all winter. I’ll keep the dark and rain, and keep pretending that there’s strength in the suffering.

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