Some people say that beach running and especially barefoot running on the beach, is bad for you. I have had folks tell me that they get blisters on their feet from running barefoot on the beach, and all sorts of ankle and knee aches.
Well, I actually find barefoot running on the beach pretty convenient – you don’t need to pack your shoes and add extra weight to your luggage. And you get loads more photo opportunities running on the beach than in the gym. I also find I get less sores on my feet, where my socks would rub against my toes and cause hard skin to build up. Beach running beats tarmac running but unfortunately we can’t all live by the beach 24/7 (er, unless of course you live by the beach;))
I also like beach running because it makes you work harder – the sand is always shifting and sliding and has more of a drag. It also trains your feet to think for themselves and adjust to each foot strike, which is not always the same. Due to the drag of the sand, your calf muscles need to work harder to push off the sand, and that is why calf muscle soreness is common after beach running. But what this translates too is that once you go back to normal surface running, your feet and legs are stronger, and you push off more easily. So beach running is just like adding weights to your ankles and running. It really improves performance in the long run.
Here are some tips on Beach running that I find helpful:
1. Don’t run on sharp pebbly or barnacled/coral sand barefoot
This is obvious. No matter how tough your feet are or you think your feet are, it’s just a bad idea to run on hard and sharp objects. If you hurt your feet, and they start bleeding, that’s it. Running’s over. So exercise caution and look for a good clear strip of beach to run on, before you go shoeless.
2. Choose slightly wet, firm sand
Don’t run on the softest part of the beach, thinking it will go easy on your feet. It is really the toughest strip as your claves will have to work overtime, pushing off the powdered sand. You will feel very heavy on the legs. Choose firm, clear sand with no coral bits to run on. This is the ideal sand – not as hard at tarmac, but with enough support.
3. Choose level ground
Do not run on the sloped part of the beach. Its unevenness might cause injuries in your ankles and knees. Of course no beach is perfectly flat, but I like the area in between the soft sand, and where the edge of the waves meet the sand. The perfect running spot!
4. Plan the distance
When setting off down the beach, you feel like you can run forever. With the wind in your hair, the sound of surf in your ears, and the morning sun on your back, you feel like you could go on forever. Do remember that you need to save some energy for the return leg. Also, as the sun gradually climbs up, it gets hotter. You don’t want to have to crawl home due to over zealous running distance on day 1. You can build up the distance as you go along.
Carry water with you. This is a must. It is easier to get dehydrated by the beach as the sun will be constantly beating down on you.
6. Use sunblock
Again, the UV rays are stronger by the beach. with hardly any trees for shelter, remember to slather up on sunblock.
7. Always warm up and warm down
I love using the beach to do my exercises and goof around too after my run. If you do get tired, stop and take a break. If you have a camera, you might want to catch a breather and take photos. Beach running is fun and relaxing. If you feel pain or discomfort, stop and rest. There is no shame is just sitting down under a tree for a while. Stretching your calf muscles and hamstrings are a must after beach running.