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By Jake Howard

The birds are chirping. The sun is shining. The hills are alive with the sound of music—so they say. Spring has certainly sprung around Dana Point and San Clemente. All one has to do is take a stroll down the trail to Upper Trestles to see what a difference one of the wettest winters in history has made. And for those paying attention to what’s happening in the local waters lately, you’ve probably noticed a steady uptick in south swells. That can only mean one thing: warmer water, warmer weather and longer beach days are right around the corner.

Over the course of this long, stormy winter, perhaps you indulged in some serious comfort food sessions. All good, but it’s now time to get back in the rotation at your preferred lineup. I’m not going to spew some nonsense about “getting your beach bod ready for summer,” but I can offer  five good tips to make sure you stay in the water longer and catch more waves this spring and summer—and it doesn’t require going to the gym. Consider this your spring training primer for the surf season ahead:

  1. Get out in the sunshine. Of course, your springtime revival should start in the sun. Chances are after all that rain you’re as pasty as the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man. A little vitamin D will do you right. Take the dogs for a walk or the kids to a park. Get out and pull some weeds in the garden. Or go stone skipping at the beach. Whatever you do, soak in the sun… and be sure that when you’re choosing a sunscreen, you make it an ocean-friendly one.
  1. Inflate your lungs. Running isn’t for everyone, but the beach trail in San Clemente is a great jaunt for anyone that wants to get their body moving. There are also some mean sets of stairs in the Dana Point Harbor if you want to get your Rocky Balboa on. But if getting around on your own two feet isn’t your thing, jump on a bike. There’s a certain amount of cardio work that goes into surfing, and if you’re going to be chasing south swells this summer, you don’t want to be huffing and puffing. A little bit of road work that gets the blood pumping and the lungs expanding will go a long way.

    SURF (1280x759)
    It’s time to prepare for a long season of summer surfing in South Orange County. Photo: Jake Howard
  1. Jump in the pool. Kelly Slater once said, “The best training for surfing is surfing.” That may be true for a freak of nature like the 11-time world champ, but most of us need to do a little bit extra to stay in peak surfing shape. The fact of the business is, it’s hard to stay in surfing shape around here because of the extended flat spells and weeks between sizable swells. The San Clemente Aquatics Center on Vista Hermosa is an amazing facility to log some laps, and if you show up on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, they offer long-course lap swim—which can feel a heck of a lot like being adrift in an ocean. The Ole Hanson Beach Club is open once again. The refurbished facility is an ideal spot to check the surf at North Beach and get your swim workout in. Check with the city of San Clemente for hours of operation.
  1. Stretch it out. The ocean has a tendency to rag doll humans. Maybe that’s why we enjoy playing in it so much. Regardless, make some time in your schedule to get in some quality stretching. Taking a yoga class a couple times a week will loosen up the body, as well as improve flexibility, strength and mindfulness. Another great option is signing up for a regular Pilates class. In last week’s edition of the paper, Kolohe Andino noted how he gets up every morning before dawn to do Pilates and meditate. He’s currently ranked fourth in the world. There’s probably something to it.
  1. Mind your fuel. With all this exercise, you’re probably going to be hungry enough to eat twice your weight in burritos. The urge to pop into your favorite taco shop to reward yourself is going to be strong. Don’t do it! If you’re going to put in all the hard work, don’t spoil it by over-stuffing your body or filling it with too much comfort food. There are so many healthy alternatives in the Dana Point and San Clemente area, all you have to do is exert a little will power. Easier said than done, I know, but a poke bowl and some brown rice will get you much farther down the road than a bean and cheese burrito.


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