Florida running is a funny thing. While Florida is the Sunshine State, and we do tend to have sunny, blue skies, we are also subject to plenty of our own extreme weather. It may not be blizzard and ice storms, but we have our share of storms and extreme conditions. Let’s talk about them.
Feeling Hot Hot Hot
For me, the worst Florida weather comes in the form of hot and swampy days. Temperatures are in the 80s and up, and the humidity comes it at 90-100%. Add in the blistering sun and you’ve got the recipe for heat stroke, sunburn, and dehydration. This is the situation 75% of the year (or at least, that’s what it feels like). It’s sweaty and uncomfortable and makes outdoor activity a chore.
What’s a Florida runner to do? Well, we combat the dangerous heat by running before sunrise or after sunset, running inside on a treadmill or indoor track, and making sure to pay extra attention to warning signs of dehydration. We put on extra protection with sunscreen, hats, and sunglasses, and do our best to be safe. For reference, I think I’ll lay off running at about 85ºF. After that, it’s just not safe for me.
I have hundreds of photos of brutally hot races and runs, so I’m sharing this one. The black outfit makes it hard to see that I am absolutely sweat soaked, but trust: that was a lot of nastiness going on.
Brrr… It’s Cold In Here
Like I said, I know our winters don’t exactly stack up to some of our Northern friends, but we do get hard freezes in Northeast Florida (and we have one coming this week). Usually, these cold fronts come in fast and furious, without much time to acclimate, but this year has been a little better. We’ve had a fairly solid winter (lows in the 40s), so I’m not super worried about Wednesday and Thursday.
With that, as a Florida runner, I rely on layers. I don’t have a lot of cold-weather gear, simply because it’s not necessary. When I go out later this week, I’ll probably wear regular tights (I prefer shorts until it drops below 45ºF), a tank top/long sleeve shirt/fleece combo, maybe a beanie, and gloves (usually a cheap pair from Target). If it’s windy, I’ll add in a gaiter to cover my ears, which I can then move to my neck if need be.
My coldest race was probably a year ago – it started in the high 20s, but by the time I crossed the finish line, I had already stripped out of my fleece and gloves.
Rock You Like A Hurricane
Let’s move on to windstorms. Obviously, Florida is known for its hurricanes, but we get plenty of wind even when it’s not storm season. While a run in extremely windy conditions is usually ok, we do have to exercise a little bit of extra caution, especially when we start seeing gusts in the 40 and 50 mph region. Let’s not forget about funnel clouds and tornadoes. While rare, they do pop up and are best avoided at all costs.
Not only does it become hard to keep your footing, but flying debris becomes a factor. Flying palm fronds are no picnic, so it’s best to stay alert. Running against the wind will certainly burn some extra calories and build some more muscle, but be safe out there!
In contention for windiest race was the DONNA half marathon from two years ago. Yes, it involved some extra cold temperatures and rain, as well, but that headwind was brutal. This photo was after the race but look at our medal ribbons, as well as J’s coat and hair blowing!
Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head
I am proud to say that I try to avoid running in the rain as much as I can. As I’ve often shared, in Florida, it’s often not refreshing, and just becomes one more moist, dank layer in the swampy Florida conditions. And yes. This is an approved use of the word “moist.” In our area, we get nasty rainstorms, and Florida is the lightning capital of the United States. Just yesterday morning, I had to bail on my outdoor miles because lightning started striking! No, thanks.
Rain is annoying, but it can also make for extreme conditions. I’ve been caught out in rain so hard it’s washed out my contact lens! Let’s not forget chafing in just about every area of the body. Visibility decreases in the rain, making cars on the road a bigger threat to runner safety. And, of course, it’s so easy to slip on slick sidewalks on wet days. Finally, most of the state is at sea level, so flooding and backed sewage become a factor, too.
Last summer, a race actually postponed due to lightning, and we all had to huddle under awnings and elevated train tracks to stay as safe as possible until it clears. But barring that, my most recent rainy race was the inaugural Bridge The Gap 5K. The rain didn’t start until I was already on the overpass, and it was definitely hairy getting back to cover.
What kind of extreme weather do you deal with where you live? What’s your least favorite to run in?
Join the Runner’s Roundup!
Link up each week to post your favorite running tips, experiences, race and training recaps, workouts, gear, and coaching ideas. Join your hosts Coach Debbie Runs, Confessions of a Mother Runner, Mile by Mile, and Runs with Pugs, each week for the Runners’ Roundup linkup! Your link must be running related. Unrelated links will be removed. You must link back to your hosts — it’s common courtesy and a lot more fun! Spread the link-up love by visiting at least two other #running bloggers! Leave a comment and find new blogs to read! Use hashtags #running and #RunnersRoundup to stay in touch and promote your content!