The temps are already soaring here in Central Florida making it one of my least favorite times of year to run outside. Of course rather than complain about how much I hate it, I thought I would recount some of the super awesome things about being a Florida runner...
People come from all over to visit Central Florida’s theme parks and beaches, making this area one of the world’s top tourist destination. If you’re visiting during the mid-March through early October, your first and most likely continuous thoughts are probably about the heat. We’re known as the Sunshine State for a reason. With temperatures averaging over 90 degrees in the summer months (and summer for us is pretty much those months listed above) and reaching triple digits with the heat index, not to mention the insane humidity, outdoor activities that do not involve the ocean or a lake almost can be a little rough!
But despite the heat, believe it or not, Central Florida really is one of the best places for runners to live or visit.
Here my top 10 reasons that make running around here so great:
We’re certainly not known for our hills here in Central Florida. In fact, if you wish to do any sort of hill training, you will have to find you a good overpass to run up and down several times. Quite possibly one of the best trade offs for the extreme heat and humidity is our extremely flat terrain. Runners visiting the area may find themselves hotter than ever, but they may also find themselves with a PR on our nice, flat roads and trails.
Must Run ALL the Races
One of the challenges to living here is the urge to sign up for a race every weekend, and trust me, there are races EVERY weekend. In fact, it can even be difficult choosing just ONE race per weekend since there are typically several! From 5k’s to full marathons and even ultras, Central Florida offers a variety of fun races year round. But wait, isn’t it too hot to run in the summer? Not according to Final Mile Race Management who puts on a two incredibly awesome mid-summer events each year with a Half Marathon in June and a 5/10k event in July! Of course the absolute best time to race each year is from February to April, and that is when you will find some of the best races in the area.
The running community in Central Florida is like no other. Here you will find some of the most enthusiastic, supportive and friendly runners in the world. Whether you’re receiving friendly smiles and waves from fellow runners out on the trail or joining one of the many group runs around town, you’re sure to enjoy the positive and encouraging energy that makes our running community so great! Most all of our local running stores including Fleet Feet Orlando, Front Running Sports of Lake Mary and or course Track Shack put on weekly group runs with product samples and of course tons of fun. A personal favorite of mine is the monthly Fleet Feet pub run. Running + Beer = Good Times!
Why Not Tri?
With lakes galore, beautiful biking trails and of course an already embedded passion for running, it’s difficult to say NO to a at least giving a sprint triathlon a shot down here. With distances short enough to be non-intimidating up to full Ironman races, options are unlimited when it comes to triathlons. A late summer early Fall tri is the best. The water is no longer at boiling temperatures, the slight crisp to the morning air and the sun warms everything up just enough by the end of your run.
Orlando has two international airports that can take you just about anywhere you would want to go and of course getting here just as simple. Major interstates make driving down here pretty seamless if you’re not too far for a scenic drive. Whether you’re traveling to Orlando for a visit or you leaving Orlando for a race, you won’t have a problem traveling to and fro.
The Happiest Place on Earth
We do have lives outside of running, don’t we? When we’re not hitting the trail, or of course at our jobs funding our running habit, we like to unwind and spend some quality time with our family and friends. Central Florida may be most known for Disneyworld and beaches, but that’s not all there is to do around here! Other than the other well-known theme parks (Sea World, Bush Gardens, Universal, etc.), Central Florida is also home to several other family attractions. A personal favorite of mine are the several state parks offering beautiful hiking trails and natural springs. The warm year round temperature of the springs make them perfect for swimming, kayaking and paddle boarding.
Will Run for Food (and Beer)
Being a large, diverse tourist town, it should go without saying we have some of the best restraunts in the country! You can sample just about any cuisine from any country or culture you can imagine. Your options for post run fuel are virtually endless. And if you’re like me and like to carb load with some hops, we also have some amazing local breweries. Orlando Brewing Company is a favorite of mine not just because of its high quality, delicious beer options, but also because it is Florida’s only USDA organic brewery!
Ohhh, the “Winter” Months
For a few shorts months out of the year, Florida is quite possibly the most amazing place on this planet to run in! With temperatures averaging in the upper 50’s to low 60’s and of course our incredible sunshine and brightest blue skies, it’s almost a surreal outer body experience running around here! With the flat terrain and pristine weather, you are sure to have one of your best races ever if you’re running down here then! Because the summers can be so brutally hot, this time of year is even more cherished and runners take advantage of the weather using it as the perfect time to train for longer distance events.
Who Doesn’t Love a Good Beach Run?
Whether you are staying at one of the hundred beach resorts or a short drive at one of the theme park resorts, getting in a run on the beach is an absolute must. Crystal clear waters, beautiful skies, warm ocean breezes and nice hard packed sand make beach running an experience you wouldn’t want to miss. If you’re in the area in early May or November, Beach Running Champions puts on an event that includes distances from 5k to half marathon, and even a barefoot division along the shore. It’s a fun, beach themed event with a nautical finisher’s medal
Trails, Trails and More Trails
Wherever you are in Central Florida, you’re near a trail. There are several beautiful trails all throughout Central Florida and many of them even connect, so running and biking can go on for as long as you wish! And it seems like new trails are sprouting up all over the area, giving runners even more options to get their miles in. If you’re more into rugged terrain, one of the manystate parks offer great off road trails with all the dirt, sand, roots and trees you could ask for. I myself, gave trail running a shot a few years back with a Masters of All Terrain series race and was instantly hooked. Though we may not have mountains or even great hills, our countless beautiful trial running options (paved or off road) in Central Florida more than make up for it!