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I'm a self-professed adventure writer and former exercise junkie seeking a long-term relationship with my higher self, healthy workout habits, and a balanced, adventurous lifestyle in San Luis Obispo. Join me as I discover the healthy activities of SLO County, from land to sea.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Cayucos State Beach

A piece of emerald green sea glass I found on Cayucos State Beach.
Cayucos is a gem of a town. Tucked away on Highway One in San Luis Obispo County, just five miles north of Morro Bay, this cool, funky destination is worth a visit. Rich in history, small town spirit and unspoiled coastline, its state beach is the perfect place to get some exercise. 

Yesterday, as sultry clouds hovered over SLO County, I headed to Cayucos in search of giant waves typical during this time of year. Walking along the beach I found a few colorful pieces of sea glass, felt the roar of the ocean and wondered...why aren't more people here?

I started my walk from Cayucos Pier, which is now only partially open due to a severely needed rebuild. Click here for more information about the pier's history and the current efforts to save it at savecayucospier.com.

I trekked south down Cayucos State Beach and saw a few others out for some exhilaration.
This paddle boarder braved the churning sea.

This surfer charged straight into the high waves.

Just another day in exercise paradise.

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Cambria's Moonstone Beach Boardwalk

Yesterday as I was stretching during the middle of my workout, the gentleman standing next to me said, "This is the best gym in town." I couldn't have agreed more.

But I wasn't sweatin' it out inside a fitness center, I was standing on a viewing deck overlooking the Pacific Ocean on Cambria's  Moonstone Beach Boardwalk. Outside in the sunshine, fresh air and low-70 degree temperatures, thunderous waves crashed below me, whales spouted in the far horizon, and I benefited from a few hours of exercise. What an amazing weekend to explore the California Central Coast! 

Cambria lies at the northern end of San Luis Obispo County and its famous stretch of coastline, Moonstone Beach, is easily accessible. Just look for the signs as you're driving on Highway One through Cambria.
When I visit the boardwalk, I prefer to park at the northern end of Moonstone Beach Drive at San Simeon State Park's Leffingwell Landing. There is a large paved lot, public restrooms, picnic grounds and beautiful views. Before beginning on the boardwalk, you can head north up these stairs and meander along a short roped trail that winds along the cliffs. Access stairs allow you to walk down to the pebble-studded shore.

To begin the Moonstone Beach Boardwalk from San Simeon State Park, walk south over the bridge from the park. The boardwalk is about 1.5 miles each way and is a flat, easy course to follow. Several benches and viewing decks allow walkers to stop and soak in the stunning blue sea. There are plenty of access stairs along the way, leading to tide pools and the beach.

There is always a bevy of activity at Moonstone Beach. Yesterday I saw surfers, fishermen, families playing on the shore, people walking their dogs, and many out searching for sea glass and moonstones.

At the southern end of the boardwalk, you'll find many beachgoers and surfers at Moonstone Beach Park. Yesterday these walloping waves gave surfers and onlookers quite a thrill.

Click here for directions and more details about this splendid walk.
Happy Trails!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

10,000 Steps

Shell Beach, San Luis Obispo County
Some health experts recommend taking 10,000 steps per day. For the average person's stride length, that translates to about 5 miles. Walking this much outdoors might not be realistic for everyoneespecially in the middle of winter, where in some states people are enduring wind chills of minus 60 degreesbut when the weather permits and you have the opportunity, why not take a few extra steps?

Even if 10,000 is daunting or unrealistic for you, studies show that taking 2,000 steps more per day may reduce your cardiovascular risk.Yesterday instead of driving, I walked to the gym for a short workout on the stair step machine and signed up for personal training sessions (can't wait!). Round trip my total steps were between four to five thousand.

Later I drove to Shell Beach to catch the sunset. I logged in a few thousand more steps while taking pictures along the crashing waves and also benefited from stair work. Shell Beach is surrounded by sheer cliffs, and walking down the access stairs is the only sensible way to get to the sand. Walking up and down stairs is a great workout all on its own.

I live in a neighborhood where I can get to the grocery store on foot. I already walked to a local coffee shop this morning, and today I'm going shopping for a pair of tennis shoes that I can keep in my office to use during the week to get some fresh air and exercise during breaks and lunches. 

If it's just too darn cold to go out where you live, walking on a treadmill at your local gym is an obvious choice. Many at-home workouts are also available through popular internet streaming sites such as netflix and hulu. I have a dvd I can do in the comfort of my own living room called "Walk Slim: 5 Really Big Miles" from Leslie Sansone, creator of the Walk at Home program.

Whatever your situation, put your best foot forward!

Even if you can't get to the beach, find ways during your day to take those extra steps that make sense to you. Click here for 25 Simple Ways to Get More Steps in Your Day by Su Reid-St. John.

Shell Beach sunsets never disappoint.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Pismo Beach Winter Sunset

Although record freezing temperatures are gripping many parts of the country, San Luis Obispo County is holding its own. Today SLO Town (that's San Luis Obispo City) sported winter temps in the high 60s. After work, with giant clouds streaking the westward sky, I couldn't resist driving over to Pismo Beach for a short walk on the beach to catch the sunset.

With cool air and a blue horizon streaked with white puffs and gold sun, plenty of surfers and beachgoers enjoyed the water and the evening view. That's what I call a workout.

Pismo Beach sunsets always begin...
...and end beautifully.

Monday, January 6, 2014

San Luis Obispo County 2014 Races

2014 hit the ground with a running start. As we enter the second week of January, commercials and magazine covers are staring us in the face: Lose weight. Get fit. Stick to your goals. 

For those of you who desire to go down a fitness track, training to run, walk or run-walk a race might help you get there. Throughout the year, many parts of San Luis Obispo County—from the sandy beaches to the rolling vineyards—play host to organized 5Ks, 10Ks, half and full marathons. 

If you've ever participated in a race, you know how much fun they can be. Lining up with hundreds of other athletes (yes, you ARE an athlete!) and sharing in their collective spirited energy, then passing through the start line and going the distance while the local community cheers you on is an adrenalin rush all in itself. Finally comes the finish line. Even if your feet are dragging, your legs are on fire and you feel like you can't go another stepwhat a rush when you reach the end.

Following is a list of a few upcoming races to consider in SLO County this year. You can find a more comprehensive list on the San Luis Distance Club's website and Active is another useful site.

Even if you've never participated in a race, maybe this is your year!

SLO Color Blast Fun Run 
January 25
Proceeds benefit the Alex Maier Memorial Fund & Scholarship and the race takes place at San Luis Obispo High School. Prepare to get covered in "a multicolored array of special dust made of corn starch." 

Wine Country 1/2 Marathon & 5K Run
March 23
Kids Half Mile "Grape Stomp," 5K, Half Marathon
I've participated in their half marathon twice. The venue is located in the heart of wine country in Paso Robles and offers a scenic hilly course along neighboring vineyards. Last year when I crossed the finish line I received a commemorative wine glass (yeah!). First place winners receive their weight in wine.

SLO Marathon
April 25 - 27
5K, Half & Full Marathon
I ran-walk the half marathon last year and ran the 5k the previous year. This race event is well organized and the courses are scenic and hilly. Make sure you train for hills as the marathons take you from the charming streets of downtown San Luis Obispo out to the rolling Edna Valley vineyards. This year race organizers are offering Jeff Galloway Training. Mr. Galloway is the inventor of the Galloway RUN - WALK - RUN method which is my preferred running program, as it takes the pressure off of feeling like I have to run the whole race (nice!). 

Brian Waterbury Memorial Rock to Pier Fun Run 
July 12
10K, Half Marathon
I've done this race before and I'd do it again. Running on the beach from Morro Rock to the Cayucos Pier at low tide is just plain fun.

City to the Sea
October 12
5K, Half Marathon
The half marathon starts in downtown San Luis Obispo and finishes in Pismo Beach. I've never participated in this race, but I've heard that it's a fairly flat, fast course. And...it finishes at the beach!

Harvest Marathon
October 26
5K, Half & Full Marathon
I ran the 5K a few years ago and won an award in my age category (might be the only running prize I ever receive at this stage of my life and that's ok—I run for the fun!). This scenic Paso Robles vineyard course celebrates the wine harvest season.

If you have a preferred SLO County race that you'd like to share with us, please feel free to post in the comments section below. Happy racing!

Friendly Disclaimer: Always consult your physician before beginning any exercise program.


Sunday, January 5, 2014

Happy New Year!

Morro Rock Beach
From land to sea, San Luis Obispo County is jam-packed with activities and locales that allow you to get some exercise. Whether you live in SLO County, visit here occasionally or plan to travel to this Central Coast mecca, the year-round temperate weather, along with the alluring coastline, Santa Lucia mountain range and agricultural influence, provide a healthy climate.

Since launching this blog in 2012, I started hitting the local beaches and hiking trails for exercise. Along the way a remarkable thing happened: I developed a healthy obsession for capturing the beauty I saw all around me. I especially grew to love sunset chasing; walking, kneeling and running along the sand to catch the perfect light reflecting on the water and shore have consumed my new-found photography hobby. 

Now that 2013 is gone and 2014 is staring us in the face, why not make this a banner year for your fitness goals and discover something new along the way? 

I've updated this site to include a partial list of SLO County organizations and business that might appeal to your sense of adventure. I believe one of the most important aspects of exercise is doing something that you personally find enjoyable—an activity that not only gets your blood pumping, but also nourishes your soul. The list I've compiled is by no means exhaustive and I welcome your input.

Whether you enjoy working out at the gym, paddle boarding, horseback riding, swimming, surfing, sailing, diving, kayaking, kite boarding, golfing, running, mountain biking, cycling, hiking, dancing, practicing yoga or the martial arts, I believe SLO County's got you covered. 

When it comes to fitness, everyone's sense of adventure is different. I hope you find and enjoy yours. 

Today I headed to Morro Rock Beach in Morro Bay. After a very long walk on the beach breathing the fresh, salt-scented air and listening to the soft crashing waves, I found my place of enlightenment.
 I'm always amazed at the bevy of activity on this quiet stretch of beach. Today I saw everything from fisherman and paddle boarders, to walkers and joggers, to horseback riders and surfers. Morro Rock Beach is quite a place to get the exercise of your choice.