It might be the middle of winter, there might be feet of snow outside your door but there’s nothing wrong with dreaming about warmer days ahead. If you’re lucky enough to be on a vacation or live near some sand, maybe even a beach, those warm days are perfect for hitting the soft stuff for a run. Running on the beach has its own set of rules and is a great addition to any training or vacation workout schedule. Here are a few important things to know before you take off, with or without shoes.
Running on the beach in slippery, giving sand with or without shoes makes the contact time between your foot and the ground longer. This longer contact time lessens stress on the legs, hips and knees.
This increase in contact time also means glutes, quads, hamstrings, calves and foot muscles have to work a little bit harder to get through a step cycle. A study by The Journal of Experimental Biology found running on the sand can be up to 50% more difficult than running the same pace on the road. Running on the beach can be a shorter but equally as effective workout as one on the road which is great news for vacationers who want to train but don’t want to miss any extra moments of relaxation.
All of the slipping and rolling that comes along with running on the beach requires small muscles, tendons and ligaments in your knees, ankles and feet to work harder. Strong ankles and feet mean more stable road running and less likelihood of common running injuries.
If your running on the beach plan includes dipping your toes in the surf, be aware of the shoreline’s slant. Run an out and back route to keep your hips happy and even. If your plan involves more deep sand than wet feet, be on the lookout for holes dug by sandcastle builders, sharp shells and other debris.
Running on the beach means a shorter workout, less strain on your body, lovely scenery and stronger feet. That makes a sandy workout good for every other mile you rack up, too.