I share a few of our favorite places to sweat and enjoy the great outdoors. If I don’t challenge myself by creating workouts that inspire me then the couch gets too cozy! Doing even one of these “Destination workouts” a week or working towards a really challenging race (i.e. the Spartan Super) is how I stay motivated to do what my trainer tells me to do and not give up after blisters, falls, and pain that create doubts. It makes my fitness 100% worthwhile and something I look forward to as a key component of my wellness lifestyle. It’s also done wonders for my immune system, balance and spiritual renewal. See more at the bottom of this ongoing post
— joda (usually with scott derrickson)
Destination: Ka‘ena Point (O‘ahu): Natural Area Reserve & Trail
Workout Type: I ran, my husband mountain biked, and many were hiking
Course: Beautiful 10 mile round trip (RT), hot but dry and very scenic coastline between Wai‘anae and Mokulē‘ia on the northwestern tip of O‘ahu (closest to Kaua‘i)
Fitness Expectation: Expect to go at least 6m RT to see Ka‘ena Point. While the trail is mostly at or about 50 ft above sea level, there is almost no shade, at times no wind, and you’ll probably be out there for at least 2 hours, so sunglasses, sunscreen and 2x the water you think you’ll need are a must.
Level: Intermediate just because the road is rocky and uneven and very hot.
Lessons learned: I got heat exhaustion, fell and bonked around mile 6. For me, even a stumble means my legs are tired and I need to switch it up or I could literally fall of a cliff (it has happened!). I could have just walked back, but I really had at least another hour in me. Fortunately for me, my all-purpose workout partner and husband (PTL) had an icepack that I stuffed down my jog bra! Note that I wasn’t dehydrated, was still peeing, and knew better!
Destination: Olomana/Pines Trail
Workout Type: Mountain bike, run or hike
Course: ~3.5 m (7RT) exceptionally runnable trail in back of Enchanted Lake, Kailua area. It is one of my favs! Not too hot with some very challenging hills for bikers. It’s also very fast. I typically start on the Kailua side of the trail (by the Pine’s) side of old Kalanianaole Hwy (past the boys home) and run from /park at Mauanawili School (where there is a bathroom).
Fitness Expectation: Must be able to handle tough hills, both up and down. Bring all your own water.
Level: Intermediate Trail run. Mountain bikers should be very fit and have good technical skills. Expect to really need to control your downhill speed because it’s so easy to get going fast (and so fun!).
Lesson learned. Be vigilant! This is a hike of many blind curves, where runners and cyclists can get going fast, so you must stay alert (and be able to hear sounds of movement even when you can’t see them. If you must use headphones, only have one side plugged in. It’s also fairly isolated, so it’s wiser, particularly if you are prone to falls (like me) to NOT do this workout by yourself.
Destination: From Kapi‘olani Park, Waikiki to Kahala Hotel Road Workout
Workout Type: Run, walk, bike
Course: Varies with course, but around 4.5 miles one way (depending on if you circle Kapi‘olani Park). I usually start at the workout area by Queen’s Beach so I can swim/shower if needed to at the beach. This course has one 1/2 mile up/down Diamond Head. It’s very scenic and fast. The end (return from Kahala) is the last 4 miles of the Honolulu Marathon and is especially scenic at sunrise and sunset, with overview of many Diamond Head surf spots. Lots of water stations from Kapiolani Park to Triangle Park (1/2 way up the eastern side of Diamond Head) but you’ll probably need water between Triangle park and Kahala. I usually stop at the little known Wai‘alae beach park (1/4 mile before the Kahala Hotel) for water or their restroom facilities.
Fitness Expectation: All different types of people are walking, hiking, running, biking and driving. Everyone fits…just don’t expect a good place to sit down.
Destination: Friendship Trail (Kāne‘ohe Bay, O‘ahu)
Course: Our favorite, local neigborhood figure 8 trail. It has a larger 1/2 mile or so upper trail with a fairly flat 125m top section, a steep 1/4m lower trail, and a very nice ‘Japanese-style’ bench to rest upon at the junction of the two circles. The upper trail also extends up to a scenic (360 degree) lookout which leads to a challenging trail up the hillside between Kokokahi and Kalāheo.
Fitness Expectation: It’s fairly steep and has many exposed roots so it’s not recommended for those who are out of shape or at risk of falling. We generally do 4-8 loops, in the evening on a weekday like a cross-country interval workout.
Lesson Learned: Bring your own water. Expect dogs, possible mud after rains, and that it can get dark very quickly on parts of the trail. If you start stumbling go home before you fall down like I did!
Destination: Kailua (or almost any beach in Hawai‘i) Sunrise/Sunset
Course: Your choice: Choose either a nearby location, one where you meet others, or one with a great view that you can get to in time. Expect to get two workouts in 1: both physical and spiritual.
Fitness Expectation: Your option: But please, stop and enjoy the view!
Lesson Learned: Some beaches can be risky in Hawai‘i, and at this time of day there is likely to be no lifeguards. Also, at many places the bathrooms are NOT OPEN before sunrise.
Destination: Na Wāhine Festival (Waikīkī/Kahala, O‘ahu)
Workout Type: Paid event: Swim/Bike/Run or Run/Walk
Course: There are two primary races for women only. A sprint tri (12m bike) and a Super Sprint (~8m bike). Both offer relay options. The swims take place at Queen’s Beach (which can have a big swell, but usually doesn’t). T1/T2/End all take place at Kapi‘olani park. The bike starts going up Monsarratt (North side of Diamond Head) to a turn around across from Kahala Mall, and then back down Diamond Head Road. Basically, except for first and hardest hill climb, the longer race is two laps, and the shorter race is only one. Both runs go around Kapi‘olani Park and are flat, flat, flat!
Fitness Expectation: You must be able to swim in the ocean without touching for at least a total of 250 yards, and must be able to ride up the first steep hill (unless you really prefer to push your bike up), but otherwise you can walk and go at your own pace! Participants include three generation families, women in their 70-80’s, and an occasional top athlete.
This is easily, my favorite, local triathlon for women only. It’s perfect for beginners. They also have great T-shirts!
Destination: Kayaking Kailua – (Lanikai) – Waimānalo
Workout Type: Kayak, Stand Up-Paddle (SUP), snorkel, swim or some combination.
Course: Local’s favorite: From Kailua beach and around the two Mokulua islands of Lanikai, to the edge of Waimānalo Beach (at the end of the military base). Depending on the weather conditions (more wind/waves=harder), the quality of your craft and the “least experienced” member of your group, the trek we took could take as little as 90 minutes to 3 hours (particularly if you stop at any of the beaches/islands or to snorkel).
Fitness Expectation: You should be able to swim or MUST wear a life vest, not be scared of the ocean and be able to get back into your kayak! Please BEWARE! I personally have assisted way too many tourists back into their kayaks after they’ve tipped them over, lifeguarded people back to shore, and safely escorted newbies to/from the shore break who didn’t know what they were doing! If you don’t know what you are doing please stay close to shore or go with a guide.
Level: Easy to Advanced. Note if you are a first time SUPer, this is NOT an ideal location because the water is NOT flat. Stay on your bottom or knees to minimize flipping.
Variations for those who are experienced: Surf waves on either side of flat island or the Mokes. When you see turtles. Stop, immediately get on your goggles, tie your craft to your foot and swim with turtles! If you want fun body surfing or body boarding go half way down Kailua beach to Kalama Beach. If you want to go surfing plan on paddling out to either Flat Island or the Mokes, and only if the waves are up, but not huge.
BEWARE: Please only go wind/kite surfing with an expert, or if you know what you are going. Many people each year require rescue from water sports in this area because they don’t respect the water or their limited abilities.
Destination: Spartan Super (Early August : Kualoa Ranch)
Workout Type: Hot trail run with challenging obstacles (weight obstacles for women are lighter).
Course: Various options depending on fitness and lunacy. We’ve done the Spartan, which is the 3 mile race (similar to the Warrior Dash, Makahiki Challenge) and were frustrated because other people were in the way and it was soooo hot!. This year we completed the 9.8 mile, Super Competitive division (which forced us to do all 29 obstacles, or pay the 30 burpee penalty for each obstacle missed).
Fitness Expectation: This race must be taken seriously just because it’s in Hawai‘i in the summer and you can easily get overheated. It’s also not for wimps or do be done with a hangover. Unless you really are a gifted bad ass athlete you must train or you could really hurt yourself.
Of course, you COULD just sign-up in the non-competitive heats (HEAT) and walk through or around any obstacle you can’t do so you can get the coveted shirt OR you can use this race to challenge yourself to greater heights of fitness.
What we really liked about the Spartan Super is that it really upped our cross-fitness, and for me personally regaining a lot of the skills I once had as a teen gymnast. We invested in 6 sessions of Cross-fit training with a great deal of upper body, core and grip strength work that helped us learn/master how to do the obstacles like rope climbing. Because I was involved in our training, we also extensively practiced running longer trail intervals with 8-10 sets of burpee “breaks”. I also spent a lot of time on the bars (successfully eventually getting my kip back) because I had lost so much of my grip strength.
Cross-fit + Trail run/burpees in heat ==> Super Spartan success
Level: Intermediate to very advanced depending on the distance of the race(s) and your speed.
Lessons learned. Training hard really paid off. We both placed in our age divisions (despite Scott’s injured right shoulder). Both of us were still running in the five miles many of our heat members were walking. We also trained for this like it was a 10 mile run, with a week off before the race, 3 days of heavy carbs and water and were drinking a lot more water in the first half of the race than our peers. Training guided by experience means you are prepared for race day.
Destination: Kailua Beach Swim to Flat Island
Workout Type: Swim (but snorkel, kayak, SUP, body surfing)…all available
Course: ~ 1/2 mile swim (about 400 to island and back); You can also go around the island for about a 1M swim, but unless you are an excellent swimmer you should not do this alone!
Fitness Expectation: It’s seems short but the current & wave action going out is almost always a challenge, and the swim back is usually really fast!
Lesson Learned: This swim is a lot more fun with clear goggles so you can see the fish and occasional turtles. Continual sighting on a landmark is highly recommended, since the waves and current can really make it challenging to swim straight. It’s easier for many with a snorkel and/or fins. If you plan to walk on Flat Island you should bring some type of footwear.
What I love about having hump days off is that it allows me to rebalance my life – to take care of what’s important to me, instead of taking care of what’s important to my clients and employers. This rebalance always requires a vigorous outdoor workout, i.e. a destination workout, to restore my spiritual harmony, to overcome the stiffness of sitting so much and just improve my outlook so I can give 150% another two long days.
I’m defining destination workout as an outside endeavor that includes 1) scenic or historic value, 2) athletic challenge of some type, and requires, for the vast majority of us, 3) some degree of planning and fitness to complete. It’s true, most water related sports, skiing, snorkeling, swimming, mountain biking, hiking must be done outdoors, and then when we are in locations, or on vacation, it’s much easier to get our workout outside rather than inside, or at a gym. Not that I’m knocking a gym. They play an important role in making safe, diverse, fitness opportunities available indoors. But I love to be outdoors! So, this blog series is dedicated to all of my beloved outdoor workouts.
Please share or send me your favorite “destination workout” with the following: Key pics including a good description of how to get there, the scenic/historic element, who should or should not do this type of workout, and other considerations like parking, what to bring, timing, bathroom, etc.
Destination: Pali Lookout, on Pali Highway (#61), O‘ahu, Hawai‘i
Course: ~ 7M RT from the bottom of old Pali Road/Nu‘uanu Pali Road Junction on Pali Highway by the Japanese School. On the bike you can do repeat hills on either side of the Pali lookout with a lot of privacy.
Fitness Expectation: 3.5M up and 3.5M down with ~400+ ft elevation change. Parts are very steep/fast coming down and requires you to have good quads and shoes with support. Expect it to take 60-120 minutes, depending on your speed and time you spend at the lookout. It took me about 90 minutes with stops for photos, water, stretching.
Weather: Usually cool and partially shady. Nice mid-day workout for Hawai‘i. Minimal overhead lights, so not recommended at night.
Bring. Your own water, snacks and camera. Can be rainy and very windy at the lookout. Recommended shoes: Running shoes with support. No bathrooms.
Park: If coming from Honolulu, up Pali Highway (61) get off at Dowsett and keep going north. Park on the street in this area. You could park in the parking lot of the Pali lookout and have a 3M RT run to the lookout that is only on the Pali Lookout Access Road.
Positive: Cool, challenging, and if you include the leeward part (South) side access to Nu‘uauu Pali Lookout the ginger, quiet and privacy are great! Also great way to practice running a long (3M) downhill fast.
Bummer: If you run up the hill on the East side of Pali Highway (HNL to Kailua) there’s at least a mile where you are running/biking on a very narrow strip, where it is very close to road. You can minimize your exposure if you illegally cross the highway and enter the road to Pali Lookout from the Southbound entrance (Pali from Kailua to HNL). Be careful!
Pali Lookout Alternate Route/Activities. There’s lot of access to hikes, waterfalls and other scenic/historic things in this area.