A few weeks ago my friend Lindsay posted asking about everyone’s bucket list. I have been slowly ticking off my bucket list for 4 years. But it got me to thinking how can I, everyday, in a local way expand my horizons and experience new things? So I started a list of the top 25 places I wanted to run in Southern California. This morning I checked off one of them. A nice run around Balboa Island!

If you aren’t familiar with balboa island it is quite the treasure in Newport beach a small wealthy island paradise home to many but vacation home to many more of Hollywoods elites.

The island is about 2.6 miles around. If you stay on the north front road it will it take you on a nice flat loop. Here are some of the treasures I encountered. Btw I ran 2 loops and it was about 3.3 miles .

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This view is I think why this is such a popular run .

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And then of course what’s an island without a dinosaur?

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And lady liberty…

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And the fun zone across the water

!

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And this awesome sand castle

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And looky here! On an island full of USC alum… OREGON representing… Our intern Derrick will be sooo happy!

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Done with the run… Hmmmmm should I get a famous “dads” donut???

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Of course!!! This is called balanced living!!

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I did a triathlon this past year, and really enjoyed it, but the open water swim made me nervous!  So, in order to review a couple of upcoming events, but avoid some hyperventilation, I have recruited my husband to try a couple open water swimming events this summer.  My husband is no Michael Phelps, but he probably won’t drown!  His past includes growing up in Minnesota, where lake swimming is a part of life and he completed a half iron man about 6 years ago when he was in a lot better shape than he is now.

The best part about open water swimming is that it allows for athletes to get out of their comfort zone and into the natural environment (this is also the scary part!).  There are numerous open water swim classes in Southern California for open-water novices.  Swim Velocity, in Orange County, puts on one of the highest rated classes based on a review of Triathlon and Open Water Swim Message Boards: http://www.swimvelocity.com/Open_Water_Swimming.html.  The best part is that it allows for repeated group swim and refresher classes for those who may take a little extra time to get comfortable in the water.
Another great resource is the OC Open Water Swims google group.  They coordinate informal meetups for weekly swims at the state beaches around Orange County, there is a wealth of knowledge and some fantastic swimmers who attend.
My husband has decided to train for two events in June.  The first is a 1/2 mile “Lap Around the Pier” in Huntington Beach on June 8th. The great part about these swims is that the registration fee is reasonable (unlike many of the Triathlon races in Orange County) only $25, including a t-shirt.  A word of warning, wetsuits are not permitted!
The second is La Jolla’s Pier to Cove swim.  This is a 1.5 mile swim from La Jolla Shores (the Pier) to La Jolla Cove.  This is a challenging but beautiful swim that navigates some of the best nautical preserves in Southern California.  Wildlife is abundant (including sea lions, tuna, dolphins and sometimes whales).  What is interesting about La Jolla is it is home to the largest population of sting-rays in Southern California as well as several (harmless) species of small shark!
If you are feeling brave and are a confident swimmer, you may want to consider these as an enjoyable alternative to the local triathlon races. I’ll keep you posted on how my husband’s training and races go!
-K
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Taxes in California are high; however, there is an advantage to paying large tax bills: the Orange County Parks and Recreation department puts on fantastic outdoor activities for free or very low cost ($5.00 and under!).  Most Thursdays at 8:30 there is a Fitness Hike departing one of the OC Parks or Open Spaces.  These hikes are generally 3-7 miles in length and on strenuous terrain.  For beginning hikers, check out the beginner or advanced fitness hikes every other Tuesday.

Looking for something a little more tame? Or are you excited about getting the kiddos out with you?  Opt for the more relaxed Nature Walk at O’Neil Regional Park or the 5 Senses of Nature Park at Carbon Canyon – both occurring most Saturdays (the 5 Senses walk is held twice every Saturday, at 9:30 and 1:00.  The 5 Senses Hike features Redwoods (yep, we have Redwoods in SoCal).

Looking to wind down in nature at the end of a long day?  Make time for the Ranger-hosted campfire program at O’Neil Regional Park or Ronald W. Caspers Regional Park.

As my family and I try these out over the next few weeks, I will update with reviews and pictures.  For a full schedule of outdoor activities visit the OC Parks website here:

 

http://ocparks.com/events

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Stairs. Yep, our society is inundated with advice to take a small step (pun intended) towards getting active. Taking the stairs, instead of the elevator or escalator, wherever you go is advice that usually looms near the top of the list. Get that quick ‘butt blaster’, heart rate increase when walking into the office everyday, and your beginning an active lifestyle, [they] may say.

I have to admit that I used to be that motivated person at the office that skipped past the elevator to climb the whopping three flights of stairs to my office on daily basis.  I will say that even though it was only three flights, the combination of stairs and heels added an extra burn that “hurt so good.”

But, I’m not here to provide an excuse that taking the stairs on a daily basis is a sufficient “work out” to replace 30 minutes of moderate activity, suggested by the American Heart Association, www.heart.org, at least 5 days a week. UNLESS, you are climbing stairs for a continuous 30 minutes, with elevated heart rate, on a daily basis. Then, more power to you, rock those tight jeans or short shorts! I am here to encourage you consider taking stairs when possible, and even suggest adding climbing to new heights into your workout regimen. *GASP*

I honestly cannot stand the stairmaster at the gym. It’s a personal choice, but I struggle with mind-numbing, agonizing climb to no-where. It tends to be a common theme for me to loathe stationary machine work; I will run in a downpour before you see me running miles on a treadmill. With that being said, how do you add climbing stairs into your workout regimen if you loathe the stair master? That answer is simple for me to provide: get out of the GYM!

I am not bashing working out in the gym, I personally include a trip in my daily routine; But, why not take advantage of this gorgeous weather and get outside when you can?!

You will find me at the corner of Golden Lantern and Dana Point Harbor climbing the stairs at Lantern Bay Park almost on a weekly basis. Or I mix it up with a trip to Strands, which is just up the road from Lantern Bay. Don’t live that far south? Check out the almost 230 steps at 1,000 Steps Beach in Laguna. Trust me, there’s a reason behind that beaches namesake. Wherever you may choose, the point is that you don’t have to climb the stairmaster.

So, you may be asking why would I devote an entire blog post to climbing some stairs? Because, it’s a killer work out that has the potential to literally get your booty into shape, while also providing a great cardiovascular, core, and leg workout, and of course, you can do it all while being outdoors! Yay! I’m obsessed, I know, but that is why we have an entire blog about Outdoor Fitness.   Stairs are a great way to focus on aerobic conditioning, anaerobic fitness, lower body strength and lower body power.  Anaerobic fitness can be developed by quick succession stair repeats.  Strength can be developed by deep lunges and focusing on form, and power can be developed with hops, bounds and leaps.  Mix it up, get fit and have amazing legs.

-K

**Please consult your physician before beginning this or any fitness program, this is not medical advice these are merely suggestions and samples of workouts**

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If you have read my previous posts, you most likely already know that I am a mother of a [beautiful] three year-old daughter, Audrey, and my second child is a 100-pound black lab, Turner. If you are just tuning in, welcome, you will be reading about my family and an outdoor lifestyle frequently. I have always been naturally drawn to the outdoors and only hope to instill that same affection in my daughter.

Recently, my husband and I decided that it was time for me to quit the 9-5 and become a stay-at-home mom. This was terrifying to me; don’t get me wrong, I adore my child and am grateful to have the opportunity to spend more time with her, but the “stay- at- home” phrase terrified me. How do you teach, encourage, engage, and entertain a three year-old, all day every day? I have found my answer to be creativity and Mother Nature.

We’re still working on a routine, but our typical day includes a trip to the gym (some social interaction for Audrey at day care, and some mommy time for me!), a long walk with the dog, and playtime at the park.  We check out different flowers, leaves, and bugs on our walks and talk about our surroundings (she actually walks or rides a bike the entire time, she doesn’t even ride in the stroller if it is presented as an option).

I have decided to take a bit further and combine educational activities with movement and exercise. On the weekends, my husband and I love to take Audrey to discover new parks or beaches. We also love to stand up paddleboard (SUP). Currently, our favorite family friendly beach location is Doheny State Park, Baby beach. It’s calm water, easy for the kiddo to play in and we can SUP in the small bay with Audrey on the board (PFD and wet suit always on) OR we trade off staying on the beach with Audrey while the other SUPs the harbor loop. How does this apply to education for Audrey? Well, Audrey loves to sit on the board out in the water and discuss all kinds of life that lives in the water. We talk about how the sand feels between her toes, and count the seashells we find on the beach (or rocks, same objective). How much more fun is it to learn counting by lining up seashells on the beach than sitting inside working on an activity sheet?

I’m not a certified educator, but I am a mom trying to live a healthy lifestyle and raise a healthy, confident child. We love being outside, and if I have said it once, I’ll say it again, SoCal’s temperate climate is perfect for outdoor activities! I plan on taking Audrey out on bike rides, pulling her in the trailer, and stopping to discover new parks; discussing how honeybees are beneficial towards making beautiful flowers and delicious honey or learning her ABC’s and spelling by using street signs as well as the plants, trees, and animals surrounding us.

One of my favorite activities is when the whole family walks to the soccer fields near our house and we run sprints together. I’m sure there is a learning opportunity for counting, spelling, science, or even art, but I absolutely LOVE spending the quality time with my family. We probably look like crazy people; our sprints turn into a game of tag or “AHHH! MONSTERS” and tag turns into passing out on the grass, but I love it.

No, with kiddos tagging along your outdoor time may not always include training for a marathon (mine hates the stroller). Overall, adjust your expectations for excise and focus on the activities outside. Ultimately we’re all trying to live a healthier life, the only way to teach a new generation those values is to lead by example.  Think outside the box and you will find it’s easy to lead a healthy, active lifestyle, while enjoying what matters most: being with those you love.

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What dog doesn’t love a long walk?  Why not shake things up, get out of the neighborhood and go for a hike?  Orange County has fantastic open space and park areas where you and your four-legged friend can spend time on the trail. Today we are going to focus on gear and preparation for hikes with your dog.

 

Trail Etiquette and Regulations

 

Not all Orange County Parks or State Parks or dog friendly. We will review local Orange County Dog Hikes in the near future.  It is important that dogs be kept on a leash at all times.  I recommend that the leash be no longer than 6 feet and that good old-fashioned leather or webbing leash be used (not a retractable leash).  This ensures that your dog is close by (for his safety and the safety of others); also, a retractable leash failure on a hike can result in a lost dog.

 

Always be cognizant of your surroundings.  Pay attention and watch for approaching people, other dogs and children (especially if your dog gets excited, nervous or aggressive).  Not everyone appreciates a sniff or slobber from a strange dog!

 

Hydration

 

We have a black lab, he may have been a fish in a past life, and I have never seen a dog drink so much water!  It is important to ensure that you bring enough water for both you and your dog.  Never rely on streams, lakes or ponds for your dog to drink from (unless you bring a filter with you). Dogs, just like humans, are susceptible to giardia.  Giardia is a bacterium that causes gastro-intestinal distress. Turner (our dog) was on the receiving end of a nasty bout after drinking from a puddle formed by reclaimed water used for watering grass.  Trust me, you don’t want to experience the awful upset doggy tummy that goes along with giardia.

 

Water filters range from about $50 to $200 depending on the brand, filtration system, model and capacity.  Unless you are going for a multi-day hiking trip, packing extra water and a collapsible bowl is probably the best way to ensure your dog has enough water.  Alternatively, the Ruff Wear Palisades pack has a built-in hydration system.

 

Cooling

 

Dogs pant to lower their body temperature (one reason ensuring your dog has enough water is so important).  However, there are other measures you can take to help your dog keep cool on the trail.  The first, and most obvious, is to hike in the morning or evening hours when the sun is not at its peak (be aware that early morning and late evening hours are also the time that predators are most active, so extra vigilance is required).  Alternatively, you may consider the kool collar to help keep your pet cool.  Also, for dogs who seem very heat sensitive (like Turner) you might try the Ruff Wear Swamp Cooler dog vest which allows for evaporative cooling of your dog.

 

Paw Protection and First Aid

 

Dogs paws are pretty tough.  But they aren’t always as tough as the terrain you’ll be hiking on. We found this out during one hike after a very long 6 mile hike in Colorado, our dog tore open a pad.  Unfortunately we didn’t have any booties for him and he had to limp the last mile back to the car.  One option to address this are Ruff Wear’s Dog Boots.  Unfortunately, your dog probably isn’t going to like these, so it is best to do some trial runs around the house and neighborhood before trying to use them on the trail.

 

Just as you should be prepared physically and mentally to deal with an injury to yourself or others on the trail, it is part of being a responsible pet owner that you prepare yourself to treat and injury to your dog on the trail.  Consider bringing a first aid kit with you (there are pre-packaged versions on Amazon), ask your veterinarian for suggested supplies and be sure to review a book such as Field Guide to Dog First Aid by Randy Acker, DVM or attend one of Petco or the Red Cross’s dog first aid classes.

 

Hiking with a dog can be a very fun and rewarding experience.  It is also a good way to make sure you both get an uninterrupted nap in the afternoon! With a little bit of thought and preparation, you can be fully prepared to tackle the trails.

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That is fantastic, really, it is.  The honest truth is that fitness is just one small aspect of most people’s lives. Unless you are a professional athlete, outdoor clothing test subject or come from a long line of distinguished philanthropists, you probably work…a lot.  You also clean, buy groceries, run errands, go to the dentist, go to family get-togethers, get the oil changed in your car, attend school plays, watch TV, sleep, read and stop to smell the roses (for only one second).

 

Most of the time, there are enough hours in the day to stay fairly fit, have some alone time and get the obligations out of the way.  But, there is one small problem.  You really, really, want to do a triathlon (or a marathon, or hike Mt. Baldy, or race mountain bikes, or climb El Cap., etc.).  In order to accomplish these things, training is important, but so is everything else.

 

Good news, everybody, training for endurance events doesn’t have to be a long slog. There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that high-intensity intervals over short durations can deliver the same improvements in fitness as long aerobic workouts (chronic cardio).  Furthermore, it seems, that the application of shorter workouts to endurance events results in a lower incidence of injury, lower levels of oxidative stress and inflammation as well as increased levels of overall enjoyment (once the workout is over, not necessarily during…).

 

So what does that mean, in practical terms?

 

Assuming you have a “reasonable” level of experience swimming, biking and running:

 

If you want to do a sprint triathlon, 3-6 hours of training is adequate per week.

If you want to do a half-ironman, 6-10 hours of training is adequate per week.

If you want to do an iron-man, 12-15 hours of training is adequate per week.

 

How is this possible?  The key is to focus on quality, high-intensity workouts.

 

Swim

  • Swim long once per week.  This swim should be no longer than 60 minutes and focus on feel and technique with some interval work.
  • 2-3 other swims should be interval focused. Limit swims to 30 minute maximum (i.e.,10x 100m or 20x50m)

 

Bike

 

  • One long bike ride per week (2-4 hours) outside
  • 2 or 3 30-60 minute interval sessions (on a trainer or in spin class is ideal, check out sufferfest videos for inspiration)

 

 

Run

  • NO LONG RUNS…Seriously, no runs over 2-hours
  • Runs should be 30-90 minutes of hard work.
  • Run workouts should consist of:
    • One interval session (12x200m or 4x800m or 6x400m),
    • One hill workout (5-10 .25-.5 mile repeats)
    • Two “long-ish” runs (2-3 mile circuits for up to 90 minutes)

 

Lifting/Mobility

 

In order to reap the benefits of low-volume high-intensity training, it is essential to ensure your body can keep things together over a sprint, medium or long-course race.  Strength/resistance training will allow you to maintain form as fatigue sets in. Mobility work is also essential to maintain flexibility and prevent injuries (foam rolling, lacrosse ball trigger point release, yoga)

 

Mental Preparation

 

Here is the tricky part:  Belief in your training.  Leading up to a long-course triathlon mental preparation is critical, you will not have had the opportunity to test yourself on a 200 mile bike ride, 2 mile swim, 26 mile run (and that is a good thing).  As long as you are prepared mentally for the task you are about to undertake.  I suggest visualization, meditation and yoga.

 

One disclaimer, the swim in an Iron Distance race is daunting.  Failing on the swim can easily lead to death.  Please, know your own abilities, practice in open water, do an open-water swim course that focuses on fear mitigation.  Panic in the water kills.

 

Now get out, crush some intervals, accomplish something BIG and get fit in the process.

 

For more information on high-intensity training try the following (these articles have great links to the studies which support the information above):

 

http://robbwolf.com/2012/09/21/10-ways-ironman-triathletes-avoid-chronic-cardio-self-destruction/

 

http://www.lavamagazine-digital.com/lavamagazine/201112?pg=154#pg154

 

https://www.marksdailyapple.com/why-we-dont-sprint-anymore-plus-a-primal-health-challenge/

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Geez, with all the Insanity,turbokick,  Crossfit, supermega SUP yoga, BMX-badass, Warrior Dash, it’s no wonder the average person feels too intimidated to get involved in an activity or join a fitness group or gym. The barrier to entry for fitness is so high, you practically have to be a navy seal to even take a “beginner” class. I LOVE when people tell me they modify or “scale” burpees… WTH… seriously? what if a person can’t bend and touch the ground? What if they cant hold their body weight? Then what are you modifying? It may be that some exercises and activities are just entirely unnecessary for certain populations.  And you know what? That is ok.

When was the last time you just took a walk? weather you are super ultra trail runner fit? Or A big surfer or the average Jane who has some lbs to lose. Just put on the sneakers and walk out the door. STOP… notice how that first wind on your face feels,    start walking… right foot… left foot… right foot… left foot… take a deep breath in notice how your feet feel in your shoes. notice every detail of your breath and body and everything around you as you simply walk. Connecting in nature thru a walking mediation can bring you so much peace and joy. It can change the way you view your body and your fitness. It can whisper encouraging words “I CAN do this, I CAN be fit”  It can also whisper “Calm down, you don’t have to be Hercules to get enjoyment out of your body and activity”

Don’t be intimidated to get involved, find something that you enjoy, something that you might even learn to love and start, and practice every.single.day and never ever ever give up. ;o)

Take a simple walk to get in touch with nature

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Over the last several years there has been a fledgling racing scene brewing in Irvine.  The Great Park Racing series is back for 2013 and is a great opportunity for experienced and relatively new cyclists to get out and race.  The series is on Thursday nights at the Great Park in Irvine.  Categories are Pro/Cat 1, 2 and 3 and Cat 3, 4 and 5.  If you’ve never raced a bike before, you’ll be in the Cat 3/4/5 race.  If you ride a bike like Kevin Costner in American Flyers or Joseph Gordon-Levitt in Premium Rush, you’re going to want to hit the Pro/Cat 1/2/3 races.  The races are set up as a point series and should be a lot of fun.  Are you a poor bike handler who wears silly helmets (triathlete)? Come on out, there is also a time-trial point series!

The excitement kicks off Thursday, March 7 and continues weekly throughout the summer.  Even if you don’t plan on being the next big name in the Tour de France, sans performance enhancing drugs, it should be a great time for the competitive or amateur athlete.

 

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ep•ic \ˈe-pik\ a : extending beyond the usual or ordinary especially in size or scope

We are moving into the New Year; it’s the first week in February. If your life is like mine, chances are that January has been pretty decent. Maybe you’ve seen some gains in the gym (maybe not). Maybe you are feeling better about your new years resolutions (or dropped them); maybe you’ve just survived the flu or a nasty cold (hooray me!). Maybe you have had an adventure, taken a trip, got out and experienced something out of the ordinary (or watched the Discovery Channel/National Geographic/Netflix).

Whether January has been exciting or rather ordinary, there is good news. We all still have a little under 11 months to have an adventure for 2013! To get out and DO something, have an epic…

Is that term overused? Doesn’t matter. For modern day explorers and extreme sports enthusiasts, epics can be legendary tales of adventures gone wrong, heroic tales of subsistence living with little more than determination separating them from the void. Or for most of the rest of us, epics can be stories of a laughable debacle that you can file away to tell your friends at the bar, family at the next get-together or your children when they’re old enough. There are very few trips that my husband and I plan that don’t turn into epics or debacles:

  • Gone camping with no sleeping bags, pillows or blankets? Done it
  • ! Concussion while snow-tubing? Crushed it!
  • Ordered crab soup in the second story restaurant of a Mexican flea market? Oh yeah!
  • Leisurely bike ride that turned into a 75 mile suffer-fest? Thanks Hubby!
  • Tandem kayaking tour of La Jolla that almost resulted in divorce? Still have the un-filed papers! (Not really, but kind of…)

My point is that even mundane outings can lead to an adventurous twist. But if you’re just hanging out on the couch, the weekend is almost certain to be mundane. Here are two ideas for this year’s epic (adventure, debacle or otherwise). Ascent of Mount Whitney Mt. Whitney is located in Sequoia National Park and has a summit of 14,505 ft. The most popular way to summit Whitney is via the Whitney trail, a 22 mile round trip hike with 6,100 ft in elevation gain. Most hikers do this in two days…for a guaranteed epic, try it in one (but make sure you are trained, are prepared, have a bail-out plan and notify someone regarding your route and anticipated return time.) A word of caution, this hike is extremely strenuous and requires a departure well before dawn. Ascent of Angels Flight Angels Flight is a funicular railway in the Bunker Hill District in Los Angeles (yes, beyond the Orange Curtain). The original Angels Flight ran from 1901-1966 and connected spring street and hill street. After an almost 40 year hiatus, it has been re-opened between Hill Street and California Plaza. Rides are only 50 cents, which is a bargain to experience a historical landmark. For a real epic, take the MetroLink Train, then the Metro (subway). Have lunch at Grand Central Market (Cuban Sandwiches!) and drinks at the Standard’s rooftop bar and pool before hopping the Metro and MetroLink Train back home. Wherever this year takes you, don’t forget to embrace the adventure and enjoy your own epic.

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