February is the perfect month to consider mending your broken heart and San Francisco is the just the right city to do it. No, I am not talking about your love life. I am talking about strengthening the most important muscle in your body; your heart.
Valentine's month is a period in between the holidays and summer. There are not as many distractions which make it a great month to begin an exercise program. The San Francisco setting for this is ideal with the cool clear days February provides and no fog!
More importantly there is no better city to train than San Francisco because of our unique topography. Where most cities have to rely solely on long, boring and flat cardio workouts we have a ton of options for quick, high intensity cardio workouts.
Three great options for fast cardio training that The City offers are: beach sprints, hill sprints and stair climbing.
1. Beach Sprints: Sprinting at the beach is great for developing strength in your legs as well as your heart. It takes more effort than sprinting on a solid surface and you can't beat the scenery (unless all you can see is fog but that's pretty cool too.) A great cardio workout at the beach would be to sprint for twenty seconds then walk for ten and repeat eight times for a total of four minutes. This is the Fartlek method of training and has been proven to be just as effective as running at a steady state for longer periods.
2. Hill Sprints: When I was young and had to walk everywhere I would curse the hills of San Francisco. Driving my old cars with stick shifts was never much fun either. Now it's all about automatics and using the hills to exercise. Much like beach sprints; hill sprints are great for strengthening the legs and glutes, as well as your heart. The best thing about hill sprints is most likely you have a hill right outside your door (if you don't you probably live close to the beach.) Try the "around the block run." Jog easy downhill and around the turns and sprint uphill. Depending on the length and slope of the hill start out doing this once or twice and try to build up to five or six times or more.
3. Stair Climbing: One of the aspects of San Francisco I have always loved, even as a kid, is the amount of stairs we have. Long staircases slice through neighborhoods providing easy routes to our favorite coffee shops and create the feeling, for me, of being in an old world time and place. What I really love about them is the leg, glute and cardio workout they can provide. Try running up a long staircase, walking up two stairs at a time or carrying a pair of dumbbells on your climb. If you want to climb it more than once be careful coming back down as you will be tired.
Try these once or twice a week along with a longer, steady run. Of course do a proper warm up before exercising and always consult a physician before starting a new exercise program. Happy Valentines Day!