Beach running, tips and benefits

 

The summer time has arrived and it’s time for a vacation. While you are looking forward to a break from work, please don’t take a break from working out. If you want to keep your fitness level up, the beach is a good spot for a workout. It has it’s benefits like the beautiful view, the breeze and the space that you can utilize. Capitalize on the beauty of the beach and the strength-enhancing workout that running on sand provides. Beach running is not just a normal cardio exercise, it also strengthens the leg muscles. It doesn’t take science to figure out that running on sand is more difficult and challenging, but scientists still did some research on it anyway.

beach runningIn a case study it has been confirmed that beach running requires 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface. Due to the sand’s unpredictable surface, the tendons and muscles need to activate and work harder in order to stabilize you and get you through the sand. Because of this your arches, ankles, calves and knees and their respective smaller stabilizing muscles get a much better workout. Therefore, this strengthening also provides you with the benefit of preventing other common injuries.

Another benefit from beach running is that your joints get a break. Landing your feet on a softer surface like sand reduces the stress of impact on your joints.

 

When is the best time to run on the beach?

First check the tides to learn when is the high and when is the low tide.

The high tide leaves behind a dry and soft sand, which is good and easy for the joints and legs, but much harder to run through.

If you are just starting out, on your first few beach runs, look for the low, falling tide. Run next to the water on the hard, wet sand, preferably in running shoes. Try to avoid the water and keep your shoes as dry as possible.

 

Shoes or barefoot?

We just said that it’s preferred to run in shoes, but it’s only because we don’t want you to get injured. Many people are careless and leave all sorts of garbage on the beach that can be dangerous for your feet. If you prefer to run barefoot and enjoy the sand then we encourage you to do so, but just be careful.

Running barefoot allows your feet to move through their natural range of motion but because we keep them in our shoes most of the time, it might take some time for your body to get accustomed to it. Therefore, when starting to run barefoot don’t do it too frequently, start with shorter runs, 15-20 mins. This way your body will get accustomed and will build strength in your feet, then gradually increase the time.

Have in mind that when running barefoot, your ankles and Achilles don’t have the support shoes provide plus your tendons and muscles will stretch further than usually because sand is a softer surface.

It is up to you to decide if you will run barefooted or with shoes. If you choose shoes, you can get a pair of specially designed shoes for beach running. Running with normal shoes is perfectly fine. Just remember that sand will eventually get inside them, so make sure to wear socks to prevent blisters.

If you go barefooted, be careful not to cut yourself on shells or garbage, so you can come back the next day.

beach running

Beach running ideas and workouts:

Sand workouts:

  • The Zigzag:
  1. Run 10 minutes on the wet, hard-packed sand, gradually accelerating from a slow jog to training pace if you can.
  2. Head to the dry, soft sand for a one-minute hard run (less than one minute if your breathing gets out of control).
  3. Cut back to the firm sand for one minute of slow recovery running. Keep these zigzag patterns going until you’ve done five to 10 one-minute spurts.
  4. Cool down with a 10-minute easy jog on wet-packed sand.

Sand-hill ascents:

  1. Run 10 minutes on the wet, hard-packed sand, gradually accelerating from a slow jog to training pace if you can.
  2. Find a tall sand hill or dune that’s open to runners. Be aware that most dunes are protected by law so you may not be able to run on them. When in doubt, ask a lifeguard or park ranger, or look for signs that say, “stay off the dunes.”
  3. Run to the top or until your breathing gets too hard to continue. Jog back down. Keep jogging around the hill until you’ve caught your breath. Do five to 15 ascents, depending on the height of the hill.
  4. Cool down with a 10-minute easy jog on wet-packed sand.

Long runs:

beach running footprints

You can do all or parts of your long run on the sand as long as it’slow tide. You don’t want to run long in the dry, soft sand.

Tempos:

Tempo runs or goal race-pace runs can be difficult in the sand, even in wet sand that is packed well. Don’t expect to run your usual paces, but if you are fit enough and have experience running in the sand, you can come close to your normal tempo pace on a low tide as long as you don’t have to fight a lot of wind.

Sunscreen is a must, as the sun’s rays beat down from directly overhead and reflect off the water. Sunglasses and a hat or visor are also helpful in keeping you comfortable and focused on your run, instead of that fireball in the sky blinding you. Try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is the most intense.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated!

 

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