It’s summertime, which means heading to the beach. And there’s just something satisfying about beach running. Nice breeze. Cool water. Soft sand. Running barefoot. Sounds great, right? It definitely is, but there are some things to keep in mind if you’re going out for a run in the sand.
Decide If Beach Running Barefoot is Right For You
If you don’t regularly run barefoot, you might want to consider keeping the run on the shorter side. Our feet were originally designed to run on soft surfaces, like sand. However, we spend most of our lives on hard surfaces and in shoes. The mechanics of running on soft surfaces and barefoot are very different than in shoes and on hard surfaces. It’s tempting to crank out that 8 mile run on the sand because it feels good at the time. But, trust me, you’ll pay for it later. If you want to go for a longer run, you may want to consider shoes. Or, you could do both and just carry your shoes while barefoot.
Be Mindful of Running on the Slanted Surface
You can find some beaches that are flat, but many have a slant that goes down into the water. If that’s the case where you are, you’ll want to find the flattest part and run on that. The impact forces from running are hard on the joints. Adding an uneven surface puts excessive stress in certain parts of the joints. In the short-term, you’re probably not looking at any significant wear and tear. However, it could push an impending overuse injury over the edge. You also increase your risk of an acute injury (that ankle rolls much easier on the slant).
Be Prepared for Prolonged Sun Exposure
You’re going to be hard-pressed to find any shade at the beach. Be prepared for this. This means applying some sunscreen and consuming fresh water before and after. You may want to even carry some with you (check out blog on hydration tips and training in the heat for more helpful info). Some beaches have water fountains, but you can’t always depend on them. The nice thing about being on the beach is that if you do feel yourself getting hot, you can just head for the water to cool off.
Watch for Foreign Objects
It’s not just sand out there. There are shells, crabs, sand castles, sea gulls, running dogs and children among other things that can trip you up. Don’t just pay attention to the ground in front you. Watch to either side to see if something is coming your way. If you’re running through the water, watch for the gullies that the water is forming. This is an ankle sprain waiting to happen.
Don’t focus on how many miles you need to get in or squeezing in that interval workout. Focus on the beauty around you. Focus on how the ocean makes you feel. Listen to the sounds. Notice the smells. Your worries will melt away. You’ll feel so relaxed by the time you return that you’ll wish you could go another 30 miles.
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