Winter is invariably when a lot of people regretfully pack on the blubber and let their bodies whither. Sure, blame it on mom’s turkey and all that holiday candy. Or on post-Christmas Stress Syndrome (whatever that is). But whatever you do, don’t blame it on the weather.
Some athletes wait all year for the pristine conditions that this time of year offers just so they can do their thing. And we’re not only talking about skiers.
If you’re thinking snow, or training for a marathon, or are planning to take your surfing to the next level, winter is where it’s at. But if you’re planning to do any of this stuff, you’d better prepare, or you’re gonna get hurt. And you don’t have to train alone.
Professional trainers in Monterey County are ready to help winter athletes of any level max out their potential while minimizing risks. Sometimes, the professional advice is even free. That’s the case with a training clinic sponsored by the organizers of the Big Sur Marathon. The clinics, now in their eighth year, start in November and last through the last week in April, which is usually when the Big Sur Marathon takes place.
Mike Dove is the coordinator of the classes, which are held every other Tuesday evening at Community Hospital of the Monterey Peninsula and feature guest speakers tackling an array of topics.
“We cover just about anything anyone wants to know in order to run the Big Sur Marathon,” says Dove, a 58-year-old with a runner’s physique and a thick mustache. “We’ve already had more than 700 people do the clinics with us who then went on to complete their first marathon.”
Dove stresses that it’s never too late—or too early—to start training for a 26.2-mile run. “We’ve had a range of people complete the course and the marathon for the first time—[runners] between 16 and 74 years of age,” Dove says. “I ran cross country in high school, but I basically stopped running until I turned 38, and I finished my first marathon.”
Taking advantage of a course like this is key, Dove says, because “the hardest part of a marathon is just getting to the starting line, not necessarily to the finish line.”
Injuries and a lack of focus often derail would-be runners during their training, Dove says. So some of the lessons he covers in the class are designed to ensure that none of those things happen: how to stretch, what to eat and what to wear (he says it’s best to train switching back and forth between two different pairs of running shoes).
Dove also covers other running topics that aren’t addressed as often.
“We have a doctor come in and talk about women’s issues, like how to run when they are menstruating, pregnant, breastfeeding or are undergoing menopause,” Dove says.
Overall, most people who start the classes are women, and most are in their 40s. “They are people whose children have grown up and want to do something for themselves for the first time in a while,” Dove says. And they happened to choose a great course to do their first marathon on. “With the Big Sur Marathon, you’re literally running on the edge of the Western world,” he says. “It’s absolutely gorgeous.”
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For those who prefer to surf the eastern rim of the Pacific Ocean, winter offers a unique and dangerous challenge. In a few words: the potential for mammoth waves. Don Curry, a pro surfer, is also a trainer.
“When training for big-wave surfing, it’s about trying to increase your endurance, and having solid stamina, strength and power to endure a wipe-out,” he says.
Curry relies on his wife, Marcy Curry, to help keep him in top form. Marcy runs her own personal training studio tucked in the posh confines of the Carmel Crossroads plaza in Carmel. Hanging over her head in her studio is a massive banner imprinted with a shot of her husband Don surfing what looks like a 35-foot wave.
A high-energy woman in her early 40s in a pair of Juicy-brand sweats, Marcy says that training someone to surf winter waves—or to participate in any sport that requires lots of balance and endurance, like snowboarding and skiing—means helping people to work on their “center.” She points to her pelvic area: “That’s where everything comes from, and that’s what I help people to strengthen.”
When working with surfers, skiers or snowboarders who come to her for help for the first time, Marcy makes it a point to find out what imbalances they have before they get started with the actual training.
“Surfers, for example, they are big in the shoulders but not necessarily in other parts of their body,” she says. “So I work with them to correct that.” Marcy is a certified Stott Pilates trainer and uses Pilates workout equipment in her studio to train athletes or anyone who is interested in looking and feeling better.
“The most important thing for anyone who wants to improve in whatever sport they are doing is to practice their sport,” she says. “And for those who want to surf and have fun in the snow, you need strong legs and a good reaction time.”
For information about the free marathon training course, call 625-6226. For personal trainer Marcy Curry, call 625-4221.