Beach running burns around 30% more calories than running on a firmer surface such as asphalt.
With such an important benefit, how does the idea of running on the soft sand this summer sound? Quite idyllic, right? But perhaps not if you're running on the beach barefoot.
A lovely ocean breeze, the sweet sound of waves, and the sun--the ideal setting for a run, isn't it?
Well, once you kick off your shoes and begin running on the sand, you'll immediately realize one thing--running on the beach isn't a breeze like the Baywatch lifeguards would have you believe.
However, don't allow that to deter you. Running on the soft sand of the beach provides many benefits that can eventually help you become a faster, fitter and stronger runner.
But before you set out for the beach, it pays to read through these beach running tips to maximize your workout.
Simply choosing the right beach can make all the difference when it comes to the safety and quality of your running. The right beach for running features long, unobstructed shoreline areas, few shells and hard rocks, and an even, flat sand surface.
The most critical element of a beach for any runner is the sand. A sturdy, packed sand surface won't put too much strain on your calves and feet. It'll also slash the risk of accidents and injury due to loose, shaky sand.
In most areas, the weather might change in a flash, but it often happens faster in the coast. While on the beach, you'll most likely be vulnerable to the elements, like if a thunderstorm occurs out of the blue.
Moreover, make sure to check the level of heat when you head out. There's usually little or no shade out there, and the sun scorching down on you is not only uncomfortable but could be quite dangerous.
This is quite obvious to people who live on the coastline, but perhaps not to vacationers. Running on dry, deep sand is significantly harder than running on the hard, packed wet sand near the shore.
If you're new to beach running, you'll want to get started in the hard, packed wet sand. For an insane ankle and leg workout, you should run on the dry, deep sand.
Before running on the beach, check the tide charts so you can run during the low tide when there's usually more surface area for running, most of which is the wet sand.
Also, if possible, focus on the flattest parts of the beach as a significantly sloped shoreline can needlessly strain the lower body. If there's no level ground, make sure to perform an out-and-back run, which can balance out the strain on your body.
Sun protection is serious business. Studies show that beach runners have a higher risk for skin cancer, including serious forms like melanoma, due to their extended exposure to the sun outside.
While protection from the sun is crucial for running outdoors, it's even critical when you're doing some beach running workouts. The water usually reflects the sun's deadly UV rays, magnifying the potential effects.
Make sure to wear protective clothing, sunscreen, and sunglasses if need be. Avoid the peak hours of the sun (12 noon to 3 p.m.), and run in the late afternoon or early morning if possible.
It might seem counterintuitive to wear shoes on the beach--aren't you supposed to feel your toes digging into the sand? Not really. It's important to begin your run while wearing shoes. This will provide you with some ankle stability and support before running barefoot.
As your shoes provide general foot support and ankle stability, running barefoot on a new surface could take a toll on your feet on your first attempt. On day two, you can run barefoot on the dry sand before doing likewise in the softer, wet sand.
Beach running will exercise your leg muscles better than a paved road, so it's critically important to have a really good warm-up that focuses on your posterior chain. This means forward lunges, high knees, butt kickers, and hip circles.
And with an uneven surface, you'll want to prepare your ankles. Do some calf lifts to work the arches of your feet, and ankle rotations while seated.
It's really exciting and amazing to run the beach, but don't ever think that excitement alone will increase your speed. Running your normal speed on the pavement will become unbearable once you try it on the sand.
Don't worry about your pace, just enjoy the great views. Find a pace that feels like 85% exertion, in the knowledge that it'll be substantially slower than the pace you'd maintain on a firmer surface.
Although you're working your muscles particularly hard, you may only feel the effects of a 60-minute beach workout the next day. You'll wake up sore and scarcely able to celebrate your vacation, leave alone plan another run.
Start out with just 20 minutes per session to ensure you're not overdoing it. And if you stay by the sea, don't always run the beach. Once every week is perfect.
Running with sand in your shoes or in wet socks is no one's idea of fun, so it's okay to go barefoot. But if you're injury prone or need leg support, you'll want to keep your shoes on.
Not sure? You can try walking one mile along the beach. If you don't feel the effects the next day, then it's probably safe to say you can run barefoot.
Drink up lots and lots of water.
Dehydration is quite common among runners, and yet it's so easy to prevent. Apart from the fact that the beach has no shade, lack of sources of fresh water can also be a problem. Make sure to hydrate properly before your run, and carry a source of water with you if possible.
After running, take your shoes off and cool down. Then walk along the beach barefoot for a few minutes. This will strengthen your ankles and feet, as well as exfoliate your callused feet.
Running on the beach is one of the best ways to challenge your body. Here are a few reasons why running on the beach is such a cool idea:
If you're still none the wiser, the extra muscle engagement and effort required to run the beach means it burns a lot more calories than running on the pavement. In fact, research has shown that beach running requires around 1 1/2 times more energy than running on a tough surface.
When ligaments absorb extra shock, they become inflamed. Beach workouts like running prevent injuries like Achilles tendonitis and ankle sprains. They also lower your risk of developing plantar fasciitis, a disorder of the foot brought on by running on tough surfaces.
Beginning by running on soft, wet sand near the water as it's more packed and firmer. Each time your foot touches down, the sand moves, providing a softer surface than a pavement.
This reduces the stress on your ankle, feet, heels, and hips while running.
Sand makes an unstable base for your feet. To stabilize yourself while running, you're forced to make use of the smaller lower body muscles, particularly those in your ankle and foot.
For most athletes, these muscles may be weak since they aren't used as much when running on pavements. When you strengthen these stabilizing muscles, you protect yourself from potential injury and muscle imbalances.
When your heart is pumping with beach workouts, your whole body responds positively.
For one, your breathing improves as more oxygen is delivered to your lungs. As you get more oxygen, you're then able to increase your performance. Running regularly also increases your stamina significantly so you can run faster and longer.
Changing running routes or running surface not only provides physical benefits, but it's also good for you mentally.
Rather than run on the same paved roads time and time again, you can savor the ocean breeze, the sound of waves breaking down, the sun, and enjoy the beach environment, while getting some great exercise at the same time.
Beach running provides lots of benefits. It can help to enhance your running form and strengthen your muscles. If you ease your way into it, you'll be pleasantly surprised by the gains in performance on your next jog at home
Enjoy your beach vacation and relish the thrill of beach running.
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