Are you Beach Bound? Take a Bounding Beach Run!
Now that it’s past Memorial Day, summertime has unofficially begun. Many of us may hear the call of the seagulls, the roar of the waves and the splash of the ocean hitting the surf. If you’re headed to the shore this season, bring your running gear – it is a fantastic opportunity to change up your workout, increase your calorie burn and challenge your muscles.
The Benefits of a Beach Run
The Surf: For those of us not living on the shore, this locale is, at the very least, a welcome change of scenery and at the utmost good fuel for the soul. After all, as humans, we are almost 60% water (even as we sweat!), which may explain our internal pull towards the shoreline. As beautiful as it is, it is also refreshing – take a dip in the water post-run and see if you’d agree.
The Turf: Sand! It is both soft and hard for runners. This challenging terrain gives under body weight, so it requires more stabilizing from our trunk muscles. This means your quads, hamstrings, ankles and, yes, tibia, will be working extra hard to keep you upright; burning more calories per minute and strengthening those muscles in a much shorter amount of time versus concrete or track run.
Yet because of that ‘give’, sand is gentler on your knees, which can take a pounding when you run on hard surfaces. This natural shock absorber also offers variety: running on the hard packed sand close to the shoreline is a much different experience than the softer, drier terrain near the dunes. Not only is running very different – so is falling!
If a beach run is more of an exception than a rule, there are some things to take into consideration before you head out:
Shoes or barefoot? There are plenty of reasons to try either or both. It may be tempting to run your bare toes through the soft dry sand of the dunes. That terrain has more give and will tax your leg muscles even more that wet sand. But be aware of seashells, rocks and stones on the beach, which would take all the joy out of the run. Barefoot runners may find their feet, achillies tendon, ankles and or shin fatigue much quicker than in shoes or on a harder surface.
Start short and slowly! Treat this like a new workout, even if you’re an experienced runner. This is a significant change for your body, so listen to your limbs and don’t expect to run as fast or as far as you ordinarily would… this isn’t an ordinary workout! Start with a mile or three (at most), and cut your pace at least by a third to avoid overtaxing injuries during this challenging workout.
Get a preview. Check the beach for length and width, tides and obstructions. Will you have enough shoreline for a mile run? A three mile run? If the tide is coming in, will you be wading more than running? Look for jetties, jelly fish, beached whales (phew!) and closed beaches before you gear up for your run.
Before You Show at the Shore
- Remember sunscreen, sunglasses and maybe even a sun hat or ball cap.
- Dusk and pre-dawn may be prime mosquito time – consider repellant (or rescheduling).
- Note a landmark of some sort when you start – the beach all looks the same after a few blocks!
- Bring a towel for a post-run dip in the water.
If you’re looking for an intense run that works extra leg muscles (including lots of calves, ankles and foot muscles), heading to the beach for your workout routine is definitely a good challenge. Like any new activity, it should be added in by slowly increasing frequency, intensity, and time.
And please, send us a postcard!