San Diego Training
Location: San Diego, California
Vibe: Laid back beachy
Must See: Balboa Park, La Jolla Cove, The Gaslamp District and, of course, the beach!
Best Time to Visit: Any time, but you can avoid the crowds and get in some great off season training during the winter.
When we talked about writing a series on places to train, I began thinking about all of the exotic, adventurous and beautiful places to train? Where do I even start? Mallorca? Portugal? Italy? I poured my cup of coffee and, like I do every morning, grabbed my phone to take a look at the weather: 70 degrees and sunny. In January. I love you, San Diego.
That’s it! What a perfect place to start with. A place that is 70 degrees and sunny in the middle of January and, oh yeah, it’s the birthplace of Triathlon. I know what you’re thinking: “what a cop out! You live there!” Hear me out. I’ll bet I have you convinced by the time you’re finished reading this.
La Jolla Cove is perfect for practicing your open water swimming skills
I'm sure you’ve heard the rumors. You know, the ones about San Diego being warm and sunny all the time. They’re not true. It’s not like that all of the time. Just most of the time. And, after thirteen years of living here, it’s a place that can still take my breath away just by turning a corner. San Diego is laid back. The pace of life is much more easy going than our East Coast friends and the vibe is much more casual.
At over 4,500 square miles, San Diego County is big. I think that most triathletes and endurance athletes in the county would all agree that North County is where most of the (training) action is at. So, that’s where the focus of this write-up will be.
I have a feeling you’re not reading this to get clarification on San Diego’s weather, so let’s get down to the nitty-gritty. You’re here to train.
You’ll find that most, but not all, of us locals retreat to the pools for the winter. And, we have some great ones. If you are looking for a top notch Master’s program and maybe even some pro sightings, check out the Encinitas YMCA or, the pool at UCSD.
A little bit further north, in Carlsbad, is the brand new, beautiful Alga Norte Aquatic Center. This pool is huge and I have yet to see more than two people in a lane here.
Are you looking for some open water swimming? The La Jolla Cove is a must. Not only is it stunning, but it is somewhat protected. No matter what time of year, you will always see swimmers here. In the peak season, there are quarter mile and half mile buoys out for swimmers to follow. The water temps range from a low of 59 degrees in January and February (it’s 62 today!) to the high 60’s/low 70’s in August and September.
There are tons of ride options in San Diego, it just depends on what you are looking for. The Coast Highway in North County boasts miles and miles of coastal riding with just about all of it marked with bike lanes and sharrows.
One of the more popular (and unique) rides is the “Pendleton Ride” this ride takes you through Camp Pendleton and in to Orange County. This is a great way to get in some minor hills and great views. You’ll need your driver’s license, or another form of official I.D., to get on base.
If you are really up for a challenge, Palomar Mountain has one for you. This is a 12 mile stretch of switchbacks, with an average (and consistent) grade of 6%-7%. If you start right at the base of Palomar, you’ll accumulate about 4,500 feet of climbing. Once you get to the top, there is a store where you can take a break, grab a snack and question your own sanity. It hurts. But it’s good for you. Here’s a sample Palomar route.
Are you looking for some flat, fast (and often windy) interval training? Fiesta Island on Mission Bay is your spot. Here, you’ll be able to complete uninterrupted loops with minimal car traffic. Many different events are held here, so be sure to check out the schedule to make sure it’s open for use.
If you love running, San Diego will be bliss for you. From the beautiful coast line to the inland trails, you have endless options. Torrey Pines State Reserve is a great place to run. It’s coastal, it has trails and it has an inside and an outside hill that are both great for repeats. The hills are steep, but the view at the top is well worth it!
Mission Trails is a bit of a trek inland, but worth it for the expansive system of trails. The visitor center is a great place to start and there are maps along the way. Be sure to take water with you!
One of my favorite runs is the San Elijo Lagoon. It’s about a six mile out and back loop, but if you would like to add a little extra, the coast is right there. This run is great for its beauty and diversity.
If you are looking for more training information or even a group to train with, check out the Triathlon Club of San Diego’s calendar. They have a ton of group training options.
If you need any gear or maybe a quick bike check, check out Nytro Multisport and tell them Coeur sent you.
You probably won’t be training the entire time you’re here. There are a lot of things to see, places to go and foods to eat. As an athlete, it’s important that you are well balanced.
You’re going to need to fuel up before that long bike ride. Take the Coaster down to Little Italy for your choice of delicious restaurants, hit the Gaslamp for a “night-cap” and/or some people watching and catch the Coaster heading back north.
Another quick coaster ride is Old Town. This area is considered the birthplace of San Diego. There are a few interesting spots to check out, but the real reason you want to go here is for the countless options for delicious Mexican food.
If your time is short, there are plenty of places to choose from in North County. Blue Ribbon has fantastic pizza and truffle popcorn that is an absolute must. Or try some fresh fish at the no frills Fish 101. If you’re staying at a place that has a grill, stop by Seaside Market, in Cardiff, and pick up their famous “Cardiff Crack”. For breakfast, check out Claire’s on Cedros in Solana Beach. And speaking of Solana Beach, check out SB’s great farmer’s market on Sunday.
Did you know that San Diego, especially North County, is the craft beer mecca? That’s right! In fact, Conde Nast Traveler just named San Diego one of America’s top beer cities.
Not only are there a lot of great places to try new beers, but the experience itself is pretty unique. They are low key and inexpensive. Most of them are in a warehouse in a business park. They don’t serve food, but each of them have a delicious food truck out front every day that they are open. Here are a few of my favorites:
After all of that training and eating, you’re going to need a place to rest your head and there are no shortage of places in San Diego. One thing to consider, if you’re coming with a group, is a house rental. The community of Oceanside has some great options that are right on the beach. Another great way to stay on the beach is to camp. Check out South Carlsbad State Beach or San Elijo State Beach.
Other options are:
These are just a few suggestions out of a great selection from which to choose.
Happy Training and Racing
About the Author
As our head of Customer Service, Andrea likely corresponded with you if you sent an email to our info box asking about sizing, shipping or the design of our gear. In addition to being an incredibly kind and compassionate individual, Andrea is also a Marathoner, a Multiple Ironman Triathlon Finisher, a Photographer, and a Travel Aficionado. In other words, she's the perfect person to share thoughts on where to go for your next training vacation. Andrea lives in San Diego
If you want to read more about Andrea's travel adventures, please check out her personal travel site "When is Now" .