If you're suffering from local heat and smog so much that you can't work out, take a quick trip to the high mountains of Utah. Pushing yourself to train at altitude can make you faster and more powerful when you get back to sea level.
The air at altitude has less oxygen, so you'll automatically breathe more often. That requires using more energy, because your respiratory muscles will be working harder, so you'll get a beneficial training effect.
The best part is checking out Utah's snow resorts in the summertime, because they offer rides and special attractions that can't be found together anywhere else in the U.S. In addition, the legendary resorts of northern Utah's Wasatch Front are clustered so close to each other that it's easy to visit several during your stay.
The most famous resorts are located in three places: glitzy Park City, and the more rustic Big and Little Cottonwood canyons. Here is what's available for adventurous athletes, starting with those in Park City.
Park City Mountain Resort has one of the longest alpine slides in the world. Its four tracks encourage racing. A mountain roller coaster goes through thick forests.
Communications manager Andy Miller said, "We have two zip lines, one for beginners, another that's more challenging. Our Little Miners Park offers kiddy rides, and we have a 19-hole miniature golf course. Three chairlifts run in the summer, leading to 70 miles of hiking and biking trails, for all ability levels. A roundtrip scenic lift ride is $12. An all-day pass to every attraction is $70. You can spend the whole day and slide, ride and golf till you drop."
Deer Valley offers lift-served mountain biking and world-class gourmet food, and is known for good customer service.
Perhaps the best choice for summer is Canyons, with its seven unusual "bike parks." They range from beginner to expert, and offer trails similar to BMX tracks, with features like bumps, berms and wooden "bridges." A lift-served pass to the bike park trails is $29, $24 for children.
"You don't have to be experienced; we have trails, lessons and rentals for beginners and advanced riders, whether you ride the bike park trails or not. There are hundreds of miles of hiking trails, and flat mid-mountain trails that anyone, even children, can ride," said PR honcho Steve Pastorino.
Less than an hour away from Park City is the world-famous Snowbird, which is designed for summer family fun, according to PR director Emily Moench. She said, "We have awesome deals on food and rooms this summer, because of the opening of our new mountain 'coaster.' It brings the thrill of skiing down the mountain to summer. We are also offering horseback riding."
There's also a climbing wall, a ropes course, bungy trampoline and the tram to the top of the mountain. Hike down to the base and get a strength-building eccentric workout beyond compare. A room in the lodge with a full breakfast is $69 per person this summer.
At the top of both Big and Little Cottonwood are the more rustic resorts of Alta and Brighton. Alta is famous for its miles of winding trails through fields of bright summer wildflowers.
Brighton is a wonderland for hikers and for those who like to fish. The rustic and cozy Brighton motel is $75 per couple, with a continental breakfast included.
Lake Mary, stuffed with trout, is less than a mile away. Mountain manager Randy Doyle defined the experience by saying, "The fishing is great, and there's a barbecue out by the hot tub."