By: Callin Naddy
Well folks, it’s that time of the year again. The weather is warming up, the days are getting longer, and summer is on all our minds.
For the select few (like many of you who read our blog), summer means cross country preseason, and cross country preseason means training camp.
For years, Boulder and then Flagstaff have been the meccas of American summer running. Runners of all abilities flock to them looking to drop time. And for good reason. Altitude, amazing trails, strong running communities – Flagstaff and Boulder offer a training dream. BUT there are tons of other great training locations around the country with a variety of different perks.
So, if you’re looking to train somewhere a bit more unique, here are our recommendations:
If You Want an East Coast Summer: Hanover, NH
This part of the country might be better in the fall (hello, beautiful foliage) but it still offers a big plus for the summer warrior. The town of 8,508 is home to Dartmouth University, meaning it has produced some recent professionals like Abbey Cooper, Dana Giordano, and Ben True (who stills trains in the area). There are 316 miles of trails, many of which are rolling and soft-surface, and all of which are scenic no matter the time of year. There are quite a few state and national parks in the area to visit in your free time. The only downside is the cost, as finding a reasonable hotel or Airbnb was harder here than any other spot.
If You Want Poor Man’s Altitude: Tallahassee, FL
It’s long been said that humidity is poor man’s altitude. If that’s what you’re looking for, the heat and humidity of Florida in the summer is sure to please. Tallahassee has long been a favorite for the winter training camps of professional runners like the BAA. The city has 700 miles of trails, many of which are soft surface (yay!). And it’s not called poor man’s altitude for nothing – there are plenty of cheap (think <$30 a night) Airbnb locations to choose from. The weather will definitely be hot and sweat-inducing with highs in the mid 90s and an average humidity of 75%, so a summer in Tallahassee is not for the faint of heart.
If You Want Those Oregon Vibes: Bend
I’m not sure Bend quite qualifies as a secret anymore. Between Oiselle’s Littlewing Team, the recent cross country success of Bend High School, and USATF club cross country meets, Bend running has been in the news recently. Still, the town of 80,000 isn’t frequented by runners as often as it should be. With an elevation just over 3,600 plus access to higher spots as needed, a mild Oregon climate, and an outdoor-friendly vibe, Bend offers a ton for the training runner. Airbnb revealed quite a few reasonably priced options for rooming, too.
If You Want Some Southwest Flair: Albuquerque
Home of the distance-savvy University of New Mexico, a summer Albuquerque offers great training and great fun. Albuquerque has over 400 miles of trails and sits at 5,300+ feet in elevation, big pluses for the distance community. There is also a ton of culture to explore, from the modern downtown to Old Town to the views surrounding. The desert weather has daily highs in the mid 90s, but the lows dip down into the 60s, so overall not too bad of a set up. And Airbnb bookings were just as cheap as in Tallahassee.
And If, After All This, You (Still) Want to Stay in Colorado: Colorado Springs
Yeah, I get it; Colorado sometimes is just the place you want to be. And honestly, training in Colorado Springs will offer just as much as Boulder (besides, you know, the name recognition). Colorado Springs offers 376 miles of trails. Plus, with access to day adventures like Pikes Peak, Garden of the Gods, and the Olympic Training Center, even your nonrunning activities will indue you with extra strength. The city sits just over 6,000 feet of elevation and has easy access to higher spots as needed. And Colorado gets 300 days of sunshine on average each year. Bad weather who?
Do you have any other “secret” summer training spots? Drop them in the comments below. And, in the meantime, get to planning your next summer training camp.