If you are looking to turn up the tempo and try something new, then beach running could be the strength-enhancing workout you’re looking for. Running on sand has many advantages. From the beautiful ocean view to the added resistance, your heart rate will rise faster and your muscles will work harder.
While a beach run can be an extremely invigorating activity, the inappropriate technique can potentially harm your muscles, ligaments, and tendons—and, in some cases, can cause serious damage.
Whether you are new to beach running or have given it a go without having much success, these 9 tips will help you to engage in an ultimate experience that will leave you and your body in good spirits.
1. Select The Right Beach At The Right Time
Picking the right beach will make all the difference, especially for first-time beach running attempts. The right setting will improve the quality and safety of your running experience and will leave you with a taste for more instead of being completely put off.
We suggest you pick beaches that have uninterrupted shorelines with flat and even sand surfaces. You should also try to avoid strips that have many seashells and hard rocks.
As for timing, we encourage you to take advantage of the low tide, this way, you will have a firm running surface and you can run close to the water’s edge.
2. Sand Type Matters
The sand is (obviously) the most important element of beach running and choosing the right type to run on is paramount. A firm sand surface where the grains are packed tightly together will be easier on your legs and will reduce the stress placed on your feet and calves. Loose and soft sand, on the other hand, provides an unstable surface that could put you at risk of injury.
3. Start Slowly And Keep Your Runs Short
As exhilarating as a beach run may sound, we plead with you to take things slow, no matter how fit you are. Beach running puts a considerable amount of strain on your muscles and ligaments and your body might not be quite prepared to feel so much stress so quickly. For this reason, it’s crucial to start your beach workout gradually and build up the intensity over time.
Even once you are used to the intensity of this running style, we still urge you to keep each run shorter than your usual time spent on less strenuous paths. It’s important to keep the added stress on your legs in mind and remember, a shorter run on the beach is equivalent to a long run on the pavement.
4. Shoes Vs Barefoot
This is quite a controversial topic and many runners have different opinions. So, we will give you insight into each option and leave the final decision up to you.
Running barefoot on the beach will allow your feet to move through their natural range of motion. These movements can help to strengthen the muscles in your feet and ankles. Running on cool and damp sand also feels glorious and you will be exfoliating your feet at the same time!
A good pair of running shoes will help to keep your ankles stable and give good overall foot support so that you can effectively navigate your way over the sand. Running without trainers plus attempting a new terrain could prove to be too much for your feet and you’ll be more prone to muscle and ligament injuries. Sharp shells and rocks could also be a problem and a run could be cut short if you puncture your skin.
5. Wear Sunscreen
Even when days are cool and cloudy, wearing sunscreen with a sufficient SPF is recommended. While it might not feel hot outside, the sun’s UV rays are still bouncing around the water and you could be their end target.
Sunburns compromise your body’s ability to cool itself and this will not only make your run uncomfortable, but it will also leave you feeling sore and tender for at least a few days after. Lather your skin with sun lotion before heading out and you’ll feel much better.
6. Avoid The Heat Of Day
The beach can be brutal when the temperatures are high and if you are attempting a beach run in the summer, our advice (and we hope you take it) is to run during the cooler hours of the day.
The period between 12 pm and three o’clock is the hottest part of the day. If you run in the heat during this time you will be exposing yourself to extreme conditions that could lead to heat exhaustion. For this reason, early morning and late afternoon is the best time for coastal running.
7. Make Sure You Warm Up Properly
If you are not already in the good habit of warming up before a run, you might want to take this step more seriously before attempting a beach workout.
Running on sand is going to work your leg muscles harder than solid terrains, making it even more important to warm your muscles up in preparation for the challenge that lies ahead. If you choose not to warm-up, please know that you will be at risk of injury and muscle cramps. An Adequate warming session for beach running should include ankle rotations, forward lunges, hip circles, high knees, and butt kickers – at the very least.
8. Stay Well Hydrated
This part is so important. You should drink a copious amount of water whenever you workout and when you run on a humid beachfront, this rule applies more than ever. The salty air will dehydrate you faster than most climates and the humidity and heat will have you building up a sweat much quicker than usual. Make sure you carry water while running at all times and remember to take regular sips.
9. Be Cautious Of Plantar Fasciitis
Running on sandy surfaces can put a lot of strain on the muscles and ligaments of your feet, resulting in an increased risk of plantar fasciitis. If you have a history of foot injuries, you might want to be more cautious with your approach to beach running and stick to moderate sessions. In this scenario, we also encourage you to wear shoes with insoles for plantar fasciitis instead of embracing the barefoot approach.
- 10 Pro Tips for Beach Running – Rothman Orthopaedics
- 8 Things You Need To Know Before Running On The Beach – Women’s Health
- Beach Running Tips and Sand Workouts – Active