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Sweatin' It

[whitespace] sun break Beach Aerobics: Sometimes taking a sun break is the best exercise of all.



This is the sad truth about working out--you gotta do it. No matter where one falls in step during the inexorable march of time, the reasons are always compelling. Young? A toned body is a must-have accessory for the young, vain and shallow. Middle-aged? Regular cardiovascular exercise is the last moat between you and the encroaching tire about the waistline. Old? Definitely postpones the Grim Reaper's drop-in visit. That said, it's up to you how to do it. To paraphrase the great pre-torture movie line: We can do this the hard way or we can do this the fun way. If your idea of physical fitness is being one of those nutty mirror-leeches at the front of the aerobics class four times a day, this article is not for you. Seek professional help. Nor is this for the 125-mile-a-day mountain-biking gearheads or surf crazies who must kill you if you stand between them and the perfect wave.

Nah, this is for the rest of us who think exercise should be the second-funnest thing you can do that works up a sweat and heavy breathing. Tops in our little workout book is jogging or walking--no fancy equipment, no annoying instructor's voice chirping out about leg lifts. And the great news is, you can do it anywhere (not unlike the first-funnest thing you can do). Fortunately, though, this is Santa Cruz, which not only offers a mild year-round climate, but also some of the most beautiful running courses in the world.

University students love the fire trails that snake behind Merrill and Crown Colleges and through the towering redwoods. These are easily accessible--and if this weren't the crime-ridden '90s, we'd suggest you run alone for the pleasure of the quiet and solitude. But it is, so don't.

The all-time favorite run or walk in Santa Cruz has got to be West Cliff Drive. With the Pacific Ocean on one side and the windswept view of Lighthouse Field on the other, the six-mile round-trip jaunt on flat sidewalk is also one of the most heavily used. Although safe for lone running, you'll never be alone. On weekends, be prepared to sidestep skaters, dodge bicyclists and vault over dogs and baby carriages. Think of it as a workout within a workout.

For a less-crowded but still-beautiful run, consider East Cliff Drive. Park in the 41st Avenue parking lot (the Hook) early one morning, then run along the coast to the Boardwalk, circling through the rides and deserted cotton candy stands, then back for a seven-mile run. For a truly deserted run, pick up the railroad tracks downtown and head to Capitola--or Aptos. Through forests and back yards, it's a bird's-eye--maybe squirrel's-eye--view of our little town. Again, women should consider having Fang or Fido along for company.
--Kelly Luker

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From the September 24-30, 1998 issue of Metro Santa Cruz.

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