I challenge you to run past a beach without taking a turn and actually running on the sand. I live in an area with 10 separate beaches and 8 of them are on routes I regularly run. Most of them are very small but a couple are getting on to half a km or more. Which is to say finding photos for this post is literally no problem at all! For even more you can check out my best beach running photos on instagram too. As summer is coming so is key beach running season. If you’re looking to add some spice to your running routine this year you might want to venture out for a beach run where you live. On a cloudy cool day you’ll have the beach to yourself and an ideal covid era outing! So here’s why you might want to incorporate beach running, what to expect and some tips and tricks to help you once you get there.
Why you might want to run on the beach
There are a few great reasons to run in the sand other than the amazing views which is also a thing. One is the fact that running on sand is actually harder than running on other surfaces. Because the sand compacts under your feet you get less energy return to each stride. Some experts say that running on sand burns about 1.6 times more calories over the same distance basically making a beach run a type of speed workout if you think about it. So if you’re over hill repeats and intervals maybe it’s time to head to the beach. The very dry sand is the hardest to run through since it’s the softest but the wetter sand near the water is a bit of an easier go.
But that soft surface is also way easier on you body and your joints. That soft surface does less damage to your joints than asphalt or concrete. However… most beaches have a slant to them so it’s wise to run down the beach and then back to balance that slant out on both sides of your body. Personally I find that while I’m running on the beach I feel sorer but after the fact any niggles or reoccurring pains are way less than normal after a run. In the past when I’ve been coming back from a sidelining injury I like to only do run spurts on the beach or uphills so as not to aggravate anything. If you’ve been injured and gotten the all clear to try running again head to a sandy beach to be super careful in your comeback.
Don’t ask follow up questions because it’s not an area of expertise of mine but… if you’re curious about barefoot running the sand might be the perfect place to test it out. I have no interest at this time in barefoot running no matter how trendy it is or isn’t at the moment. However, if I did get curious about barefoot running about the only place that seems reasonable to test it out is the beach. I have run barefoot at the beach while happening to be at the beach but not on purpose. That’s not true I also ran barefoot at the beach when I was a lifeguard but that is ancient history at this point. However you should know that there could be sharp objects in the sand too.
What to expect
If you do decide to try beach running with or without shoes there are a few things you should be prepared for. One is you won’t go anywhere as fast for the same effort. At this point for me running doesn’t really make my leg muscles sore while I’m doing it. I was going to say on steep hills but not really… However, running on the soft sand for about a km makes my leg muscles scream at me!
I like to run on the wetter sand probably because it’s a bit easier but I like to tell myself that it’s because I don’t want as much sand in my shoes. What ends up happening though is I just drag the wet sand home and once it’s dry it’s all over my kitchen floor. Running on the beach does mean you’ll probably end up with some sand in your shoes, just so you know.
I’m not really one to run back and forth over and over along the beach. Maybe when I need to make up a few 100m when I get home or if the roads are slick in the snowier months but there is a long sandy beach literally at the bottom of my driveway. Don’t feel self conscious if this is your plan though because all kinds of people literally do it everyday! One lady runs every morning in her bathing suit all spring, summer and fall. She’s far from the only one too! So many people do it that as someone who lives on the beach I don’t even notice it anymore. Even if someone looks at you funny know that what you’re doing is actually super common!
While I’m not a dedicated beach runner I do run across a lot of beaches if that makes sense. Here are my top tips to get the most from your beach run!
- Plan your undergarments for a post run dip to cool off
- Also bring a towel
- Be prepared to take the odd walk break
- Know that it will take a few beach runs to find your sand legs
- Bring extra water compared to what you usually would drink
- Wear sunscreen as the rays reflect from the water too and you can even get a burn on cloudy days
- If you need it to be easier run closer to the water, for a challenge further away
- For a time the sand stays looking wet where the waves will probably be next
- However every wave isn’t the same so another reason to keep an eye to the seas as you run
- Also the dunes make the water go further or less far so look ahead too
- Different beaches have different vibes most are fine during the day but some attract a rougher crowd once the sun sets so be aware
- Beach running is probably a light out activity right?
- Make sure to take a killer runfie!
Running on the beach is it’s own special thing and a special experience all on it’s own. So if you’ve always wanted to give it a try or it just seems lovely to you give it a try. This is a year where we might have to plan exciting running outings and planning a run at the perfect beach could be just the thing! How do you enjoy your beach runs the most? Do you have any tips or tips for the perfect beach run? Leave it in the comments below!