Warm Weather Training as an Elite Runner

I have talked before about how I wondered if life would be different had I been an American citizen.

I probably would have gone to an elite training group, and lived there for a few years, maybe ended up settling in one of those towns.

I learned to accept that it was never going to be in my future, but in the last year, one of the groups, has kind of taken me in.

I think you know which group this is, I have talked about them before, Zap Fitness.

Now, don’t get me wrong, other groups would be fine with me training with them for a few days while I was in their home base town, and every elite runner I have ever known has told me that they wished I was American, so I could get the same benefits (many races are US elite fields only). But Zap, has been especially kind.

I spent a week with them in the summer, and this winter, head coach Pete Rea, gave me the opportunity to come stay with them down in Tallahassee for their 6 week training chunk.

I did not take full advantage of the full 6 weeks, partly as they left before I even arrived back from England, and partly because I am going BACK to England before they leave for my sisters wedding.

But Steve and I decided it was a wonderful opportunity, especially as I could then train with Sarah as we build up for our marathons. She talks about why she is running Boston over running the US trials in her blog.

I intended to go last week, but when the weather in Lexington took a nose dive the weekend before, Steve and I decided it was time to run away from the weather (pun intended :P).

We have become smarter in the last few years, dropping the ego that tells me to grit my way through bad weather. It is simply not worth the misery that being injured brings, so not worth the risk.

So off I went, driving the 9.5 hours down to Tallahassee, Florida (stopping halfway in Atlanta to run).

The first few days here hardly felt like warm weather training, there were lows of around freezing, and I had simply not brought enough clothes to keep warm. BUT a few days later, it was 70 degrees and sunny, and it became clear why this was a good idea.


But it is not just about the warm weather, far from it actually.

There are beautiful places to run here; 20 mile flat rail trail paths with a canopy of trees, forests with endless packed dirt paths, flat and hilly sections, and access to gyms and swimming pools for all the cross training (although of course, I miss my ElliptiGO!).


But even so, it is not just THAT. We are staying in a long-stay hotel, the entire zap group staying in these mini apartments, most of them getting ready for the Olympic trials, and others are coming back from an injury, in that diligent phase where they are so inspired by the other runners, that they are doing EVERYTHING they can.

Either way, it is motivating to be here. I find myself itching to do more (as much as Steve is desperately trying to keep my feet on the ground). I know that doing more WILL put me at risk of injury, my body is simply not ready for more training…..yet (even with my beloved EnduroPacks keeping me healthy), but I am making sure that what I am doing is to the best quality (and yes, that means keeping it slow on easy days!!).

Everything about being down here encourages success, and I can see why it is incredibly important for elite athletes, especially during the winter months.


The sunshine puts you in a good mood to approach your training, the warm weather and running options (lots of soft ground!) make it easier (yes, I still have a lot of bad days!!) to enjoy your training, and the rest of life here encourages you to look after your body.

Most evenings, Sarah and I take turns with Colley (did you read his blog post on my elite takeover) and George (seriously funny guy, follow him on Instagram, you won’t regret it!) making dinner. Other days we will go out for dinner; to a burger restaurant, or out for lunch with non-running friends, but it is all geared towards putting in the right fuel to get the most out of our bodies and training.



This is me.

Don’t worry, there is still a sugar fix every single day. Both Sarah and Colley have sweet tooths, so we finish every day with some kind of sweet treat. On friday, we went out for fro-yo, and I have shown you on my Instagram what that looks like…..let’s just say its not exactly healthy.

That’s 11am by the way! Another reason I love this girl!

As I have talked about a lot recently, it is important to find balance.

That means yes, looking after your body most of the time. Doing what you can to stay healthy, and fuel it right.

I have been sleeping well, getting up to 9 hours a night, which is unheard of for me. I sleep in till almost 7 every day (those close to me know how much of a big deal this is for me!), and get 8-9 hours of sleep, along with mostly resting throughout the day.

It allows me to get solid work time in for my full-time job at Runners Connect, but also to rest my body, so it can continue to adapt to the stresses I am putting on it.


Everything about being here promotes success.

Most of all, it is nice having others around me with the same mentality as I have, the same drive and dedication to reaching those goals.

It is inspiring and motivating in so many ways.

It is not even just the Zap athletes, there are lots of other elite groups in Florida, and even a few more in Tallahassee, including my friend Esther (if you drink coffee, and missed her post on my blog last year, you WILL wanna check this one out!) who I can run with some days to make runs more enjoyable.

I plan on doing a “day in the life of” post next week, to show you what a typical day looks like, but today, I just wanted to share why it has been so great, and why I feel confident for my fitness when I get the opportunity to race.

Although, of course I miss my wonderful husband, and it is hard being away from him, we talk often (for coaching and husband-wife reasons), but I would much rather him be here with me. Actually, one thing that does work well, is Sarah’s husband Michael is staying in our house with Steve and they work together, so they have one another, while Sarah and I have one another!

I always wondered what warm weather training would be like, and now, I am happy to say I know, and I see why so many runners do it!

[bctt tweet=”Cool! Learn about elite athletes warm weather training in Florida!”]

Where is your favorite place to train?

elite runner, Florida running, winter, zap fitness

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  • This sounds like an absolute dream come true!! I’m so happy you were able to get down there and fill your body and soul with sunshine!!!

  • Christine Suter
    January 20, 2016 7:17 am

    I really love reading your posts about what it’s like to be an elite runner. I can imagine it’s really nice to be with “your people” and have similar goals. Sounds like a great experience for you!

  • You want to know something terrifying? i, of all people, haven’t had ice cream (other than a little nibble on a dessert), in several WEEKS. CRAZY. So glad that you got a trip away from the cold!

  • That sounds like it is a lot of fun and beneficial for you. I’m glad you to got that opportunity Tina. I’ve been enjoying running in California so I guess right now that is my favorite place to train LOL. I just enjoy somewhere not as busy.

  • OH I’m jealous!! The winter weather really zaps my training motivation. What a great getaway this time of year!

  • Martina Di Marco
    January 20, 2016 10:20 am

    I’m a weirdo, but I’ll take the 20 degree-NYC weather over the 70-degree [humid] Florida weather any day of my life. I just despise anything over 55F 😉 Everything else about it sounds wonderful though… the 9-hour sleep, the cross-training options… Can’t wait for the “day in the life of” post!

  • Sounds like a great environment for you to be in for training and improvement and so glad to hear it all went so well. Loved reading this post!

  • This sounds amazing for you. Sunshine definitely fills me with happiness too. Also never give up the sweet tooth haha. I always need at least a piece of chocolate after dinner but that bowl of ice cream sounds better. I hate warm weather where I am mostly because the humidity kills me. My body just overheats and can’t cool down. This below freezing weather isn’t very good for me now either because I can’t feel my feet, haha.

  • Laura Anderson
    January 21, 2016 1:28 pm

    I’m so happy for you that Zap gave you the chance to do this with them! You deserve those opportunities for how hard you work and your level of dedication. I hope you have a great time, and embrace the ability to do things like that!

  • What a great place to train!! I am so glad you are enjoying the time and getting in great workouts. I always love reading about your adventures! 🙂

  • Hey Hey Tina,
    Good to hear from you way down south! Must be nice not having to run in the pouring rain, I am definitely begging for summer being in the Pacific raining season.

    Anyway, I am curious what the greatest lesson you have learned from your experiences so far?

    The picture of you eating the ice cream is priceless, looking very mischievous!!!

    Have an awesome day!

  • Wow, this sounds like a super cool experience!! Looks like you found the right partner in crime when it comes to your sweet tooth!! Enjoy!

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