Sunday, May 24, 2015

Running In South Florida - It's Different

Over the past three years of exercising and running in South Florida, I've discovered that running in South Florida isn't like running in other places. The heat, sun and humidity suggest some pieces of equipment are more important than they would have been when I was living in Wisconsin. There are also some unique issue when running here. I thought it'd be fun to create a list of what I've learned to be particularly useful for running in Florida. Mostly this is just meant to be a silly list just for fun.

  1. You gotta have great running hat - at first I thought sunglasses were the all important item, but my thinking has evolved and now I believe a great hat is more important. Mine is silly looking and giant, and I absolutely love it. A huge brim keeps virtually all sun off my face. Well ventilated so my head doesn't get extra hot. And a neck drape for sun protection in the back. Plus, even when you're moving slow, when that drape is flapping in the wind, it makes it feel like you're moving fast! My beloved running hat: Sunday Afternoon Adventure Hat
  2. Serious sunscreen is mandatory - it's sunny here, a lot. Finding a sunscreen that could last for hours while sweating excessively in heat and sunlight took some time to find. I've settled on Target up & up Kids Lotion SPF50. One application has survived for hours without even the hint of a sunburn. It's titanium dioxide based, so does not rub in. Proper application will leave you looking a bit like a ghost with a weird white sheen. Yes, it does contain some of the chemical based sunblocks in addition to the physical titanium dioxide block. I choose to protect against the known risk of skin cancer and accept the unknown risk of exposure to these chemicals. And it doesn't feel great when a bit gets in the eyes. But this stuff has been great for me. And it's cheap, too!
  3. We do have hills! - Well, not really, but you can simulate hills with a little creativity. Given all the water, roads have tons of water crossings. Water crossings require bridges. A bridge hunting run is a great way to simulate at least some elevation gain. It's easy to create a route that has you crossing a bridge every 15 minutes. Or bridge intervals can be one for more regular climbing. Other options include incline on the treadmill or this:
  4. Leaving the road? You better be prepared for sand. - Sand, it's everywhere in South Florida. Anytime you leave the pavement, sand is a possibility. Even just that bit of grassy median between the sidewalk and road can be sandy. And head off to run some trails, you're almost certain to encounter sand...muddy sand, packed sand, loose sand, sinking sand, sugar sand. Lots and lots of sand. It's a whole different ball game than pavement or even dirt trails. I've made it a habit of practicing running on sand. Any run of reasonable distance, I try to spend at least a mile or so running in the sand along the beach.
  5. Finally, running in South Florida rocks! - There are so many great and diverse places to run.
    South Beach Park A1A Boca Raton
    For the asphalt junkie, running up and down the A1A with the beach and ocean always a glance away is a great place to hang out.
    Loxahatchee Levee Sea of Grass
    Then there's always the option to spend some time running along the dirt trails in the Sea of Grass in the Everglades where you're certain to encounter an alligator or two and a wide variety of snakes. And for the hardcore trail runners, there's the opportunity to head deep into jungle-like trails where you feel like you've stepped back to a time before Florida was settled.
    Caloosahatchee Park Trails
    I'd love to hear what you've experienced and discovered and found to be particularly useful during your adventures running and exercising in South Florida. What have you discovered that makes running here a bit unique?

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