Here are some beach running pointers for vacationers and coastal runners.
It doesn’t take science to figure out that running on sand is more challenging than running on pavement. Just ask anyone who’s ever been on sand.
But science can tell us just how much more challenging it truly is.
Running on the sand takes 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface, mostly because:
- The mechanical work required to get through the sand.
- The inefficiency of the work done by tendons and muscles as a result of sand’s unpredictable surface.
Needless to say, the researchers in Belgium did this testing in soft, dry sand. As a result of its dynamic tides, soft sand and the ocean is usually not the sole choice for shore running.
In case your home is near the shore , or you’re heading out for a vacation this summer, you may be thinking about taking your love of running to the shoreline. Many runners in coastal areas do this to get a change-of-pace workout in one of the most peaceful places in the world.
For runners, not all beaches are created equal. The truth is, there are a few major factors that could make an entire dud for running on to certain spots.
Run on the correct conditions
A jetty, a cliff, a river mouth… so many things can shorten the length of a beach — and turn your anticipated run into a big disappointment. Try to find a beach that has at least a mile of uninterrupted shoreline .
Some beaches are unsuitable because they are cambered, or crowned. Determined by how cambered the shore is, this could cause you to run on a slanted surface for an extended period, which can lead to injury. The flatter, the better.
For the barefoot crowd, some beaches are littered with rocks and broken seashells which can be distressing to run on. Take your shoes with you just in case.
Select the right kind of sand
Depending on the tide cycle, you may have multiple surfaces to select from. And they are night and day in conditions of problem.
The soft sand is the surface that’s totally dry. It has plenty of give, which makes running on it hard ( hence, why it takes 1 . 6 times more energy than pavement. )
The wet sand, or sand that is packed, is what’s left behind as the tide recedes. It’s a lot more firm than soft sand. If you’re new to shore running , go to the wet sand. In case you’d like to do a soft-sand run, get ready for an excellent workout .
Watch and pay attention to the tide
To get the most wet sand to run on (or the most region to run on, if your beach is narrow), ensure that you go at low tide, or at least when the tide is receding. Tide charts are easy to find online.
In case you head out during high tide or when the tide is rising, you won’t have any wet sand to run on –or at some spots, you may not have any beach at all.
Decide to run with or without shoes
The wet sand is sturdy enough that you can run with shoes and not worry about sinking in. But of course, the sand is a soft enough surface to make barefoot running possible, if not preferable.
If you choose to go without shoes, do so with caution. Your feet are used to the support, and at the end of even a short beach run, you might notice that your ankles, Achilles, calf muscles or the top of your feet are fatigued or hurting.
Check your knees
Some beaches have more slanted surfaces than others, but even the most level beaches, at the lowest tides, have some slant to them. And generally speaking, the higher the tide, the more angled the sand. Running on an angled surface can wreak havoc on your knees and hips. Make sure you run out and back. The unevenness isn’t good for either leg, but it’s better to put both legs through the paces than just one (for instance, running down a beach in one direction, then back on the road). But if you feel knee or hip pain, stick to the roads or level trails.
Deep sand workouts
Even if you can’t get down to the beach at low tide for the hard-packed sand , running in deep sand once in a while is a great kick in the butt. Sand, like soft snow, gives with every step, so your leg muscles (hello, burning calves) will feel the burn. This can be really convenient, though, if you don’t have much time for a run. Doing a short workout in deep sand will rarely leave you wishing you had more time for a longer run.
Sunscreen is a must, as running next to the water will give you the reflective rays along with from directly overhead. 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. And if you do a lot of beach running, look for shoes that have tight mesh over open mesh. A closed mesh can keep your shoes from filling up with sand when you’re running on the soft stuff. And since it’s sometimes inevitable to get a little sand in, wear socks that ward off blisters. Thin, synthetic options work well. And if the wipe still is not abating, consider a lubricant like BodyGlide or Sportslick for long jogs, particularly long runs where your feet might get wet and sandy.
Take advantage of your location
Nothing finishes off a terrific seashore jog much better than a hop in the ocean (and thank goodness for quick drying jog attire ). You won’t be given the same retrieval advantages as an ice bath by a soak in the sea –unless you are running on a beach in Maine in the winter–but it’ll certainly leave you refreshed. And to make the most of more setting, jump over alternative obstacles for agility training or heaps of seaweed, and race the sun as it sets into the water for speedwork.