Running, Beach Style

What better way is there to spend your summer days running on the beaches of your favorite lakes and oceans? In reality, it's one of the best workouts a runner can get. Because of the sand, your body is able to strengthen your ankles, arches and muscles below the knees. And, it does it more so than running on hard surfaces. You’ll develop power in your lower legs in a shorter time frame than you will when running on hard surfaces.

In addition, you’ll also burn 1.6 times more calories per mile on each run. The reason is that running on sand consumes more energy. The impact force on sand is lower allowing for better running with less strain/pounding on the body.

To start, you’ll need to run with good running shoes on the wet, soft but hard packed sand near the water. You will still need to keep your head up and your back straight and land midfoot. The bad traction in the softer sand will cause you to run on the balls of your feet. To compensate, lean your body forward and drive your knees and arms higher.

Shoes, or Not?

If you have heard that running in your bare feet on sand is even better for you, you may have heard right. But, you need to properly prepare yourself first. Running bare foot helps you because it allows for a fuller range of motion. You have fewer restrictions and therefore you can strengthen your ankles and feet.

You’ll need to build up to this point first, however. Get in some trial runs with shoes first. In the beginning, you’ll limit your barefoot running to about 20 minutes in firmer, wet sand. This will help to build your foot and leg strength. Add five minutes to the run each time you head to a newer surface. Once you have built this up, try one of these workouts:

Run for ten minutes in the wet, compact sand to warm up. Gradually go from a jog to training speed. Then, run one minute of a hard run on the soft sand. Get back over to the firm sand for another minute and run a minute of slow recovery. Repeat this back and forth motion for five to ten one minute repeats.

Or, try this. Do the same warm up followed by finding a tall sand hill and running towards the top until your breathing is labored. Jog back down the hill. Once you have caught your breath, repeat the hill five to fifteen times.

Don’t forget the cool down on the harder sand.

Sand Running - The Bad Part

The hardest part of running on sand is that you are more prone to certain injuries. You can easily strain your Achilles tendons and calves if you are not careful. This is because you will end up straining farther than when you run on harder surfaces. Barefoot running can lead to plantar fasciitis or ankle sprains because of the lack of support. You can avoid the strain on your Achilles and calves by running near low tide. And, don’t forget to watch out for sharp objects as well!


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