Tired of the treadmill? Too many bugs on the trails? Try the beach! Running on the beach can have great benefits but can also cause injury, so proper planning for running in the sand is important. Here are X tips to help you get ready to enjoy the cool breeze, warm water, sunshine and scenery you’ll find running on the beach.
Be ready for a workout. The softness, slipperiness and lack of stability on sand forces your ankles, calves and arches to work harder, even if you’re wearing shoes. Great for building strength in the lower leg, the give of sand protects your knees and hips when you land with its softer surface at the same time. Running on the beach also increases the time a running foot is in contact with the ground, forcing quadriceps, hamstrings, hip flexors and gluteus muscles to work harder as well.
Start on wet sand. Wet sand is usually the flattest and firmest, making it easier to run on than the deep, soft sand above the water. As you grow comfortable on the packed, wet sand, slowly weave in a minute or two on the soft sand, gradually increasing until you feel comfortable spending your whole run on soft, dry sand.
Plan your route. Check tides and head out when they’re low. The flattest part of the beach will be exposed and there will be more wet sand for you to choose from. Running further from the water means running on at least a slant and at worst deep fluffy sand. Picking an out and back route, which will help prevent an uneven pounding as you run even if you do end up on an angled surface, is always a great choice.
Choose the right shoes. Running on the beach invites plenty of water and sand into your shoes and socks. Taking a brand new pair of running shoes onto the beach is asking for them to get wrecked. Wear older but still supportive shoes, or wear very old shoes and get new insoles for them. You can take the insoles out after your run, which helps shoes dry as well.
What about no shoes? Barefoot is a great option for beach running but just diving into it can cause injuries. Start with 15 minutes of barefoot running and build up. Strengthen ankles and arches slowly, using these tips for stable lower legs to guide you.
Know you will be slower. Expect to run a slower pace on the sand because while pavement springs your foot back up, sand pulls it in. You are in contact with the ground for a longer period, your legs and feet have to work harder and each step on sand is shorter than those on pavement. A two mile run on the sand is just as good as running further on the pavement or cement.
Now that you’re ready to go running on the beach, remember your sunblock, hat and sunglasses. Be sure to stay on the lookout for holes in the sand, small children scampering about and most importantly, have fun!