The Most Challenging SoCal Hikes? Bring it!

Though beautiful, places like this can prove to be a challenge for the fitness enthusiast

Though beautiful, places like this can prove to be a challenge for the fitness enthusiast

California has several mountainous regions that one can utilize for a nice hike. Some of these regions are also home to some of the most challenging hiking trails as well. This article will cover a few of these trails ranging from moderate difficulty to “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. Try these trails at your own risk, they will test you physically and you will most definitely feel it in the morning.

In the “moderate” difficulty corner, we have the Devil’s Punchbowl/Devil’s Chair trail near Pearblossom, California. This 7.4 mile long trail has an elevation gain of about 1000 feet and features a lot of scenic mountainside and river views. You will have to deal with lots of rocks around the area, so be sure not to trip! The long route can be a challenge for runners willing to test their limits in this near all terrain path. For those of you looking for the pure hike of the trail can try out the 1 mile loop trail, which takes you straight into the punchbowl, leading you into some of the most beautiful rock formations you can see in the area. One of the things that will make this a challenge is the hot temperatures that can occur during your hike. This will be especially challenging if you’re doing intensive training, so be sure to bring lots of water.

The “Hard” hike (Not so much as hard as it is occasionally dangerous) is the Escondido Falls hike trail off the Pacific Coast Highway. It is a four mile trail that pits you against the three tiers of Escondido falls. It is mostly a safe trip up until the third tier, which although full of beautiful scenery, can result in a dangerous fall if you’re not an experienced hiker. If you think this isn’t challenging enough, you can also try out the Bear Canyon Trail in Mount Baldy. The winter trekking is intense and involved skilled hikers. This 12 mile roundtrip hike will get your muscles pumping in any time of the year though. There is alternative option to the Bear Canyon Trail, which is the Devil’s Backbone trail. There are means to cut through the elevation, but honestly that’s cheating. You’ll be rewarded with an amazing view of the San Gabriel mountains and a sore next day.

Now on to the “Holy crap how the hell did I manage that” difficulty. According to, there exists the “Cactus to Clouds Route”, that goes from Palm Springs, CA into Mt. San Jacinto. This insane trail starts you off right at the desert floor and makes you ascend over 10,700 feet up towards Mt. San Jacinto. For the extra challenge, suggests you run through the unmaintained trail for that extra rugged terrain. You’ll be faced with insane weather changes and harsh physical endurance breaking hiking/running, but boy does it sound insanely fun. There is a tram that can take you back to town if you just can’t make the trip on your own, so there is no need to be too worried about your end result of this trek. The vertical climb to the crown of the mountain is painful to note, as it will have rocks and boulders trying to block your way to the top.

Some Earphones for your Consideration

Consider these headphones, like this AfterShokz Sportz set

Consider these headphones, like this AfterShokz Sportz set

This past week California got its first downpour in a while, potentially alleviating the pretty bad drought that we’ve all been experiencing. Even though it’s helping, it does pose some problems for the runners out there. Obviously running in the rain has its dangers like sliding and falling (I recently busted my toe just by walking!). So considering that the rainy season might actually bring rain, is there any gear out there that can keep us on the road and running strong? In order to maintain an optimal run, you want to keep the gear to a minimum in order to reduce your encumbrance. Check out these lightweight gear suggestions that can help you enjoy an awesome rainy run.

Next-to-skin clothing (NTS): You’ll probably be happy to be wearing these things as they provide lightweight coverage as well as some heat retention during your run. Several companies make next-to-skin clothing, ranging from underwear to long sleeves. You’ll want to focus on NTS that can give you great warmth retention. Fleet Feet Sports recommends getting gear fitted with Merino wool to keep good heat retention. Check out Smartwool’s  selection on NTS baselayer clothing. Prices start around 70$ and they have full selection of tops, legs, underwear, and socks. Smartwool utilizes Merino wool, which has a lot of traits that top even the best synthetic fibers. It has the best heat regulation capabilities and retains the heat, even when wet. Check out the benefits of Merino wool here and see how the money is definitely worth the product.

Jackets: This is a must need if you’re going to brave the cold and the wind while you run in the rain. Waterproof is a definite must, even with that fancy NTS clothing. I will warn readers right now that waterproof/wind resistant quality running jackets will be fairly expensive, but be aware that the costs reflects the quality you get as well. Craft Sports has a nice selection of running jackets that provide a slim fit and is almost waterproof. Though it is made from waterproof materials, the jackets do not have fully sealed seams. I chose this for definite consideration because you get the protection you want against the wind and rain for a decent price of 99$. For those willing to burn more cash on their gear, many have suggested to me to check out Pearl Izumi’s stuff, because their jackets are one of the few truly waterproof stuff in the market right now. Like Craft Sport’s product, the Izumi jacket is made with waterproof and windproof fabric. It goes another level they make the jackets with fully waterproof seams to prevent any leakage into your jacket. At about 185$ the Pearl Izumi running jacket collection will be potentially beneficial in extreme weather conditions.

Shoes: Now I know some weird people that don’t mind the soggy running shoes, as long as they don’t get chaffing from their socks. If you can find yourself some anti chafing/waterproof socks, then you don’t need to worry about the water resistance of the shoes. However, let’s consider some great waterproof shoes for those of you who don’t like the feeling of having a small pond in your shoes. At around 140$, the Brooks Men’s Adrenaline ASR 10 GTX seems like a nice combo to add for your running gear. Being completely waterproof through their GORE-TEX® membrane technology, you don’t need to worry about that sloshy feeling of wet shoes. It seems one of the few setbacks this shoe has is that it will feel a bit on the heavy side, but then again that is a relative to the runner experiencing these shoes. A nice addition to these shoes is another one of Smartwool’s products, the  PhD Run socks. These socks, also utilizing Merino Wool, will do your feet wonders as it significantly reduces discomfort from chafing, because you’ll still feel a little bit of that even with waterproof shoes.

Running gear never runs for cheap, but these picks will definitely make a good addition to your running wardrobe. Also, these awesome pieces of running gear will definitely help you conquer the upcoming rainy weather that SoCal might be overdue for.


Some ways to spice up your treadmill workout

Getting tired of the same old training routines on these?


Can’t find a track to run on or can’t find a good running trail? Tired of having to do the same boring running regiment on a treadmill? Well, in case you haven’t heard, there are some treadmill exercises that can make your treadmill workouts more interesting. If you’re one to enjoy numbers, you may consider going by the book and play by the treadmill’s default programing. It may seem boring, but inputting your exact body details and coordinating those details with the right workout routine, instead of pressing “Quick start” or whatever button it has, can really help you burn that weight and build muscle with your mind set on changing those inputted numbers for the better. The incline programing is another good workout choice for your treadmill routine. Combining your crunched numbers, setting up interval workouts on an incline is a great way to endurance train when hiking up the hills isn’t an option. Doing intervals of 30 minutes is a great way to simulate the intensity of elevation training. Another nifty workout technique on the treadmill is trying the hill programing in combination with some light dumbbells. By light, I literally mean something around 2-3lbs. You really don’t want to do more than that to reduce any potential joint damage or worse, machine damage. The weights help give some resistance to your run, giving you that extra tension on your run. Words of advice though, do NOT wear any ankle or wrist weights. Though you may see some people do this, you have to keep in mind that putting weights in these particular parts of your body can cause some damage to your joints because those joints can’t handle the added weight while in motion. Weight vests are a bit more acceptable, but nonetheless pose similar risks. Though these may be a few variations to your treadmill routine, try experimenting with your workouts. Heck, you can technically do a little jig while working on your powerwalk on the treadmill too. It’s true, check out this video to see what I mean. If she could find some variation in her treadmill work out, you can too!

Running for the Elderly

Running really does wear a body out, but the health benefits behind it make it worth the pain. However, what do you do if you’re older and feel that you can’t bring yourself to do the same things the younger athletes train to do? Well, although it is common knowledge that age does bring about several potential health problems, it should not deter one from going out for a run.

First let’s start with the basics: We have learned that from your thirties on, your body starts changing, often for the worse. Your bones get weaker, muscles are less stretchy, you lose more muscle mass, and you retain more fat than you would during your youth. Not to mention that, as you age, your metabolism slows down as well as your lung elasticity, making it harder to control your breathing. Putting this in terms of running performance, older runners will have to deal with having proper breathing control, stride length, and energy loss. The lack of muscle and bone density will put serious strain on the legs, reducing strength and speed during a run. Obviously we cannot fully prevent such deterioration, but running is still more than capable for the older community.

There are some who are literally incapable of running due to various diseases, such as the various forms of arthritis or even osteoporosis, but the willing and capable benefit greatly with running. Of course, like with any other individual, running helps prevent several different diseases ranging from heart disease to cancer. Considering that -as you get older- the chance to contract any of these diseases increases, running would further benefit these older runners. Running also assists in reducing the physiological deterioration of the aging body, as it  strengthens the muscle, bones, and joints of the person. It also keeps the individual mentally healthy as well, preventing instances of depression and anxiety. This increase in strength will reduce instances of broken bones, which happen much more frequently as you get older.

Now the apparent hard part: Where does one start to run? Well it isn’t as hard as it seems. Obviously, you want to go to your physician to get a checkup to see if you are healthy enough to start a light workout. Then, like any other beginner runner, it’s a matter of not pushing it too hard, but enough for it to be a challenge. Make sure you carefully stretch out and take more rest days between training; it’s fine to do that so that you avoid any injuries.

Modified weight training works well too. I’m not saying that an older person should start going Rambo, but its more for the sake of compensating for loss of muscle density. Then again, there is Jim Morris, a 78 year old beast of a human with massive muscles. One doesn’t need to strive to those levels, but jesus that’s impressive. it also shows how age really doesn’t mean invalidity.



Upcoming SoCal Races

Ready for a summer run? These guys are!

Ready for a summer run? These guys are!

With summer coming around soon, lots of people are gonna want to challenge their physical limits. Fortunately for those of you out there who want that, there are a some awesome running events happening that will surely challenge you. Be sure to apply early though, you don’t want to lose your potential spot or pay more when the time comes up.

The first on the list is The San Diego Zoo Safari Park Half Marathon and 10k run, which begins May 4th! Now I know it technically won’t be summer yet, I had to bring this up because you get to see some of the animals from the San Diego Zoo. Honestly, I think that’s pretty awesome, especially if you’re an animal lover. Now the entrance fees are a bit high, with the Half Marathon costing roughly 95$ at the moment, but the 10k runs a little cheaper at 75$. Keep in mind, that the entry fee pays for your race, a free race technical shirt, medal, and free admission to the zoo! Not just that, but you can even have the opportunity to name a cheetah cub if you register to be a wildlife champion. Now, from my knowledge, the wildlife champion isn’t a race, but an opportunity to fundraise for the zoo. the minimum is 500$, but the more money you raise, the more exclusive benefits you can earn! Check out their Wildlife Champions section here for more information.

Second in our list of summer events is the San Diego Epic Summer Run. Starting June 1st, this marathon/ half-marathon & relay will definitely test your endurance. Registering gives you some pretty sweet benefits too! Not only will you have an amazing view of the area as you run, but you’ll get a cool medal upon completion, a gear bag and technical participant shirt, and access to a 2 day health & fitness expo too! Not just that, but you’ll have access to the post race festival and concert  as well! Prices now start at 155$ for the marathon event and 140$ for the half marathon. If you’re interested in the 2 person half marathon relay, the prices start at 180$. Register now to save yourself some cash because the prices will only go up as time passes! Check out here for registration and other information!

These last two events seem too intense? Why not try the Wrigley River 5k Run/walk and 10k run in Long Beach then?  Not only is it light on your feet, but it’s also easy on the wallet. Starting at 30$ for the early bird registration, this race will give you a great run at your own pace. You won’t get all the fancy exclusives and goodies that the other events offer, but you do have a chance to win a medal if you finish top 3 in the race. They do offer tech fiber shirts for an additional 5 dollars, if you are interested in that as well. Live music will be present at the event, so you can enjoy some lively tunes while you run to your hearts content. At bib pick up, you will also receive a goodie bag, which seems to be a bit lacking in information on the website. So take it as a surprise and see what you get! If you do have a question regarding that, feel free to contact the admins on their race website here.

Here’s an intense run that will get you dirty too. The Mach 1 Mud Run on June 21st is not just any running event, it’s also a brutal obstacle course that will test your strength and endurace. You can go in as an individual runner (which is apparently heavy on the competitiveness) or with a team of 4. The obstacles that you will encounter include a mud pit, monkey bars, wall climb, and other crazy boot camp-like obstacles. You get a t-shirt and a medal just for participating, with more awards for making the top 3 and even for having a creative costume as your attire during your obstacle run! There’s also a foam shower station that you can wash up with your buddies after the race, so you don’t have to worry about driving or walking home muddy. Like the other events, prices will go up the longer you wait, with individual entry fees starting at 55$ and team fees at 200$ for a team of four. Check out their website for more information!

And running up on the last of this list is the 4th of July Warrior Run in Tehachapi California. Tehachapi is a bit out of the way, but the run will be worth it. Registering will reward you with a pancake breakfast, finisher’s medal and a swag bag. Though a 5k run, you will enjoy a nice scenic rural townscape with lovely weather as well. According to the event site, a percentage of the proceeds will go to the Kern County Wounded Heroes Fund. There will be music, food, drink and games during the day, so be sure to stay around! The entrance fee is 30$, so be sure to check it out here for more info on this race and any other races!

You know what, let me throw out one hiking run event for you hikers out there. There is an intense hiking event called the Bulldog 50k Ultra & 25k Trail run in the Santa Monica mountains happening August 23, 2014. Be quick to decide because the early bird registration ends April 30th. Both the 50k Ultra and 25k trail run will be conducted simultaneously, so be sure to choose your pick. There will be a few training sessions before the main event, the dates being as follows:

  • Saturday, July 12 @ 7:00am

  • Saturday, July 26 @ 7:00am

  • Saturday, August 9 @ 7:00am

Be sure to check out the area and test yourself before the big event. There will be awards following the race for reaching a particular milestone such as fastest time within varying age groups as well. There isn’t much regarding goodies, but who cares? This event is gonna be one to test your limits! There’s a lot of helpful information and advice for potential participants in their website, so be sure to check it out here to get the latest info on the event. Early bird prices go from 80$ for the 25k run to 100$ for the 50k ultra, so be sure to apply before the 30th or the prices will go up. Also note that there is no race day registration, so don’t wait until the last minute!

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