5 Things to do in SLO CAL

SLO CAL is without a doubt one of the most underrated regions of California. Located smack dab in the middle between Los Angeles and San Francisco, this county is host to some of the most beautiful landscapes in the entire state, from beautiful beaches to pristine mountains and valleys, there’s really something for everyone. SLO CAL is home to cities like San Luis Obispo, Pismo Beach, Arroyo Grande, Paso Robles and Morro Bay just to name a few. Though it was impossible to visit the entire county in the 3 days I spent there earlier this month, I was able to discover some amazing local gems. I completely fell in love with all of the outdoor and wellness activities that you can do in the area so I decided to share with you today some of my favourites.

1) Relax at East Wellbeing & Tea – Located in downtown San Luis Obispo, this luxurious concept spa and tea room is the perfect quiet oasis for anyone looking for a little self-care during their vacation. Specialized in Eastern massage techniques, all of the rooms at East Wellbeing & Tea have been carefully created and decorated drawing inspiration from different parts of the world. They offer a wide array of treatments such as massages, acupuncture, facials, baths and cupping just to name a few. I had the opportunity to enjoy their 60-minute Signature East Massage, which also included a 30-minute soak in this beautiful in-suite tub prior to my treatment. Once your treatment done, you can enjoy some of their healthy organic and plant-based snacks or organic teas while reading and relaxing either indoors or outside at their cafe.

2) Go Trail running at Bishop Peak – There is an abundance of hiking and trail running trails located in the entire SLO CAL region. With the area nestled between the Nine Sisters (five of which have beautiful trails to hike/run on), a string of beautiful mountains that stretches from San Luis Obispo to Morro Bay, there is plenty of terrain to discover. Bishop Peak is easily accessible from downtown SLO. You can also visit some of the local State Parks such as Montana de Oro or opt for the challenging Hazard Peak that offers 360-degree views of the coastline and Morro Rock.

3) Surf at Morro Bay – If you’re into watersports and want to spend time at the ocean, there’s plenty to do at Morro Bay. Whether you want to kayak, SUP or just go for a surf session, both the bay and the ocean are available to you. Plus, chances are you’ll be able to scope out some local marine life such as dolphins, seals and otters playing in the waves or just straight up chilling in the bay. The stunning Morro Rock is a beautiful backdrop for your water adventures. The large sandy beach and Morro Bay is perfect for a picnic lunch or a post-surf nap. Though the water can be a tad chilly, the lack of crowds in the surf lineup is a major plus. If you came without any gear, do not fret, the local Azhiaziam surf shop has everything you will need for some fun activities in the water. And if you’re planning on spending a few days being active in the water, stay at the 456 Embarcadero Inn & Suites, located right on the main street in Morro Bay. They have beautiful suites that come with a fireplace and a patio that overlooks the ocean and Morro Rock.

4) Visit the Farmer’s Market. Every Thursday night, the city of San Luis Obispo and its neighbouring towns get together on Higuera Street to support local artisans and farmers while also grabbing some delicious grub and watching some of the best local musical acts perform. The market has become a must-attend for locals and a great way for visitors to really catch the spirit of the region. I made a few delicious local discoveries while at the market such as Whalebird Kombucha and Atsa Superfood Bars, companies that were both started by young locals.

5) Explore the Sand Dunes at Pismo Beach – Just off the scenic highway 1, the Oceano Dunes State Vehicular Recreation Area are the last remaining coastal sand dunes that are open to off-highway vehicles in California. There’s around 1,500 acres of dunes to play around in. If you’re looking for a great place to rent a dune buggy or ATV, check out SunBuggy, not only do they have one of the largest fleets of rentals but they will also drive you to and from the recreation area. It’s a great outing for thrill-seekers!

Other suggestions: visit the local wine country in Edna Valley, go bouldering at The Pad Climbing in SLO, rent a bike and cycle from San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach on the Bob Jones City to Sea Trail. 

A big thank you to Visit SLO CAL and their partners for all of their help setting this trip up. Watch for a special plant-based food post coming soon!

Video by: The Offners. Shot entirely with GoPro Hero 6 + Karma Grip, thanks to Sport Chek and GoPro.

Celebrating the release of Tomb Raider with a Lara Croft-Inspired Trail Run

To celebrate the release of Tomb Raider movie this Friday, I recently went on a Lara Croft-inspired run with some friends out on the trails in Vancouver.

Trail running requires determination, strength and a sense of adventure, which are all characteristics that Lara Croft embodies. As I’ve seen with my running group RUN DISTRIKT these past couple of months, group runs are all about togetherness and support from the other runners out with you. When you hit elevation or difficult terrain, having others running by your side can be immensely helpful to keep you going. And that was the case when we met up on the North Shore to go on this cold and rainy run early in the morning last week. Together, we were able to reach the viewpoint just in time for sunrise. We documented our badass Tomb Raider-inspired run with the video below, which I hope you’ll enjoy!

Video shot by: @theoffners

I’m stoked to be giving away 3 pairs of passes for the new Tomb Raider movie on my Instagram – @melsays. The contest is open to residents of Canada (excluding Qc) and is open to anyone 19+. To enter, comment on my Instagram video by letting me know what inspires you! Winners will be announced on March 15th 2018 and contacted via DM on Instagram. #TombRaider #LaraCroft

For complete contest rules and please click here: bit.ly/2FtwnDY

Thank you to Michelle Moon and Sydney Prevost for being a part of the shoot.

This post was written in collaboration with Warner Brothers Canada but all opinions are my own.

MELSAYS PODCAST – EP. 4 – Genevieve Arnaud

Happy New Year everyone! Took a little break over the holidays but I’m back with a brand new podcast episode and I’ve got tons of new content coming up in 2018!

Excited to share with you today the fourth episode of the MELSAYS PODCAST.

This week, I chat with Genevieve Arnaud. She is the founder Atwell Health, plant-based nutritional counselling and mental health coaching, out of Squamish, British Columbia. In addition to running her private practice, she is also a trail runner and the volunteer coordinator for the Coast Mountain Trail Series out here in BC.

The podcast is just one click away or you can also listen to it below. If you enjoyed our chat, make sure you subscribe to the MELSAYS PODCAST here -> iTunes and Google Play.

My 2018 Running Goals

Taking some time to reflect on this past year and some of the running goals that I’ve accomplished.

It wasn’t a perfect year health-wise but was pretty good all-in-all. I was taken out of training for just two months and have been battling a little injury for the last couple of weeks but otherwise, I’m pretty happy with this past year and what I’ve been able to do. I ran my first ever half-marathon in the spring, started trail running, started a run club called RUNDISTRIKT, then PB’ed on my second half-marathon and recently started doing some trail races as well. The last one was just this past weekend in North Vancouver and let me tell you, it’s a whole other ball game. Trail races are no joke! The 13k race I did last weekend was hands down the hardest race I’ve ever done.

So as 2017 draws to an end and I start planning my goals for 2018, I know that trail running and even alpine running are going to be quite high on my list of running goals. Call me crazy but I’ve already started a list of races I’m interested in participating in, a lot of them being out here on the west coast. I love adding some travels to the mix, so whenever possible I make it a destination run as well.

In addition to doing some more trail and alpine races in 2018, I want to compete in my first ever SWIMRUN event. I’ve never been a big cycling enthusiast so having the opportunity to skip that discipline altogether, sounds right up my alley. The first one in British Columbia is happening next August in Victoria. I also hope to have the run club partake in more events and represent them at the races I’ll be doing in the new year.

My one hope for this upcoming year is that I’m as healthy as can be! Injuries are the worst, especially when you have races lined up so I’m putting all the chances on my side to have a successful 2018. Lots of yoga, swimming, cross-training, healthy eats and self-care!

What are your running goals for next year? Will I be seeing you at a race?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Windproof Jacket (get it here), Hyba Printed Mesh Leggings (get it here), Hyba Colourblock Training T-Shirt (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Summer Fitness Bucket List

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Summer is officially here on the west coast! It has been nothing but blue skies this past week, which is very welcome after a series of rainy months. Since this is my first summer out west there are a lot of things that I want to do while the sun is shinning. So I have decided to create a summer fitness bucket list!

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Topping my list is this summer is training for several half marathons. I did my first ever half in May and loved it so much that I decided to register for a few more down the road. I am taking full advantage of the fact that I’m out west to pick races in beautiful destinations that showcases some of the best Pacific Northwest scenery.

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Obstacle course races are also high on my bucket list. There are so many great events being held across British Columbia that I want to hit up as many as possible. So I’ve been doing a lot more strength training and training with weights to get in the best shape possible in order to be a strong competitor for these races. I’ve always lacked upper body strength so it’s something that I’m really working on.

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Races aren’t the only thing that are on my summer fitness bucket list. I’m also hoping to do more trail running, outdoor cycling, hiking, open water swimming and rock climbing. Basically, I want to be outside as much as possible and be as active as possible for the next couple of months!

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What is on your summer fitness bucket list?

Photos by: @Offner

What I’m wearing: Hyba Racerback Low-Impact Sports Bra (get it here), Hyba Printed Fast Track Cropped Legging (get it here).

This post was written in collaboration with Hyba but all opinions are my own.

Trail Running

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Trail Running has always been on my bucket list of things to try out. Having recently moved to British Columbia, I thought that this would be the perfect occasion to finally give it a try. There are so many great trails located just a few minutes from downtown like the Grouse Grind, Lynn Headwaters Regional Park, Stanley Park, Rice Lake, etc.

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Last week, with the help of a local friend, I did my first ever trail run. Trail running is unlike any sport I’ve done before. It’s one of the few activities that requires you to be 100% in the present moment, it’s like a meditation of sorts. It’s an activity that forces you to focus and work on your feet and eye coordination. You have to make split-second decisions about which way you’re going down and where to put your feet at all times. Also, because you are running up and down the entire time, it really gets your heart rate up and forces you to work on controlling your breathing.

davThe thing about it that I loved so much, was that unlike road running, you get completely lost in nature. You get to not only see some of the most beautiful viewpoints but also breathe in clean and fresh air and hear little to no noise.

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Having good gear is key when trail running. You want to make sure you have the proper footwear that will support your feet and provide you with the right amount of traction. Wearing breathable fabrics and bringing with you some form of hydration and even a snack are key. Experienced trail runners will often go out on their own but it’s never a bad thing to be accompanied by someone who knows the area, if you’re going out for the first time. Other things like having a whistle, compass, phone, etc. are all great, as you never know what could happen while you’re out in the wild.

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So if you’re like me and just easing into the sport, I recommend checking out MEC‘s website (here!) as they have run meet-ups, clinics and many races across all of Canada this spring, summer and fall. I am really looking forward to doing my first ever trail race this summer!

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Outfit provided by: MEC. Photos by: Chris Thorn.