Running on the beach… NOT!

This is actually a slow walk...

Every summer I always get requests from runners asking about beach running. “We’re going on a vacation at the beach and I just wanted to check with you if it’s okay to go running right on the beachfront instead of at the park.” They’ve never actually tried running on sand, but they’ve seen it done in films and television and are convinced that it’s going to be a beautiful, relaxing experience. You know, frolicking on the beach, waves for music in the background, yoga stretches in the sand to finish the workout off.

I don’t want to burst your rainbow bubble, but running on sand (summer or winter) is one of the most difficult exercises in the entire world. And I’m not exaggerating! On the other hand it is one of the most beneficial for muscles strength and feet so if you happen to be near a beach do take advantage of it. Here’s two ways you can do that:

Simply walk barefoot in the sand.
It can be dry or wet sand, or even right at the water’s edge. By just walking you’ll give your feet, calves and shins a beneficial workout. Be warned that they will be sore the next day. Maybe even the day after. The less you’re used to actually using your feet while you run (by pushing off with the forefoot), the more muscle soreness you’ll be feeling in the following days. Just know that it’s normal and you will be healed within a few days…until you go for another walk on the sand.

Run short circuits between the sand and the road.
This is a workout for advanced runners. Start out with a 20 minute warm up run. Begin with 500 metres of running on the sand, then get back on the road next to the beach and recover by running slowly for another 500 metres. Do it ’til you drop! Expect your heart rate to go up quickly while you’re running the beach portion. This is a great exercise for full body strengthening, especially the leg muscles. Do a few push ups to get those biceps in too! As with the walking, if you’ve never done any running in the sand you might be surprised at how sore you  become. Take a jump in the water afterwards to aid in muscle recovery.

So next time you see those actors running on the beach, look closely at their technique and decide how many minutes you think they can keep it up. As for yoga on the sand? Absolutely the best and recommended at any level!