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Tips for Running in Sand

Fit Tip: Beach Running

If you're hitting the beach this Summer because you're lucky enough to live close to one or you're vacationing near the ocean, do more than collect shells in the sand. That soft, granular surface offers excellent resistance, so it's not only an inexpensive way to keep up with your workouts, but walking or running on sand burns about 30 percent more calories than you would on a harder surface such as asphalt. Here are some tips to get the most our of your workout.

  • Choose your shoes: You don’t need a specific type for beach running, but try to dedicate one pair of running shoes for beach runs so you don’t have to attempt the nearly impossible task of removing all the sand after your workout.
  • Or go barefoot. Going without shoes allows you to use your toes to grip the ground, so it's great for the muscles in your feet and calves. Just be careful because running on uneven surfaces can increase the risk of sprains and tendonitis, not to mention cuts and puncture wounds from broken shells and glass. Choose the flattest, cleanest surface you can find. Ease into barefoot running by starting off walking, and gradually move to running to avoid straining your muscles.
  • Start on wet sand: Do your first beach run on the wet, firm sand near the water. Do alternating intervals of running on the softer sand for one to two-minute intervals, then switch to walking on the hard, wet sand for three to five minutes to recover. Stick with short runs totaling 15 or 20 minutes until you adapt to the soft sand.

For other important tips

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  • Don't expect to run at your usual pace. Hitting the sand is much more challenging than pounding pavement or a treadmill, so you'll need to slow down your speed until you build up strength and endurance.
  • Protect yourself from UV rays. Running on the beach offers no protection from the sun, so lube up on a broad-spectrum sunscreen, or you may prefer to wear a lightweight long-sleeve shirt if you're especially prone to sunburns. A hat will shade your face and neck, and sunglasses will protect your eyes from the glare of the sun's reflection on the water.
  • Finish barefoot: Post-run, take off your shoes and cool down by walking barefoot on the beach for a few minutes to strengthen your feet and ankles. Sand is a great exfoliator, too, so it’s like you’re getting a natural pedicure.
Image Source: Thinkstock
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Join The Conversation
johninsingapore johninsingapore 5 years
Of course the healing properties of natural (not oil stained!) salt water are well known and really good for your skin and health. Walking in the water even shallow, is a great closer activity to running on the beach, ah yes so is taking a dip, to relax your muscles. Where's my ocean...
animatedpunk animatedpunk 5 years
@xamayca - I don't think that sounds weird! If I had a pool, I'd definitely give it a shot :)
guavajelly guavajelly 5 years
This might sound weird, but running in the water is an amazing leg workout. Doing running sprints in the pool has really slimmed my legs
animatedpunk animatedpunk 5 years
inlove23 - I just recently (last week) got into "barefoot" running with the Vibram FiveFingers shoes! I have been easing into it gradually, and alternating days with my regular running shoes. I started out walking, and then have eased into running/walking. I blogged about it in my onsugar blog actually :) I really like the shoes and I love running "barefoot."
runningesq runningesq 5 years
That's really fortunante for you, dunnonuttin (not being sarcastic!) but for most people, even those running 50+ mpw, running barefoot without any slow build up will LIKELY cause injury.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 5 years
When I lived in Florida I ran barefoot on the beach all the time. I'm not a "sit in a chair and read a book" type of beach goer. So when I went to the beach with friends this is what I did. I've never had even a smidgen of an injury.... however, I run around 20 miles per week (back then and now). I think if someone's ankles and legs are not attuned to running, then I think the extra resistance from the sand can create problems - especially in the ankles.
dunnonuttin dunnonuttin 5 years
When I lived in Florida I ran barefoot on the beach all the time. I'm not a "sit in a chair and read a book" type of beach goer. So when I went to the beach with friends this is what I did. I've never had even a smidgen of an injury.... however, I run around 20 miles per week (back then and now).I think if someone's ankles and legs are not attuned to running, then I think the extra resistance from the sand can create problems - especially in the ankles.
runningesq runningesq 5 years
inlove23: google "barefoot running" and you'll come up with a host of pages. I know a few people who were hardcore runners and made the transition while running barefoot only 5-10 minutes at a time in the beginning."barefoot running" is the new IT thing in running. I think it's interesting (and I did read <i>Born to Run</i>) but I've been fine in my Asics and see no need to change my body positioning or type of foot strike.
runningesq runningesq 5 years
inlove23: google "barefoot running" and you'll come up with a host of pages. I know a few people who were hardcore runners and made the transition while running barefoot only 5-10 minutes at a time in the beginning. "barefoot running" is the new IT thing in running. I think it's interesting (and I did read Born to Run) but I've been fine in my Asics and see no need to change my body positioning or type of foot strike.
inlove23 inlove23 5 years
I am actually interested in trying barefoot running (not just beach runs). Yesterday at the beach I saw a guy wearing the barefoot specific shoes (the ones that look like they have toes). Pretty cool =)
runningesq runningesq 5 years
I agree with TrnSmleShift: running barefoot needs be be built up to VERY GRADUALLY -- not doing so can cause injury.
TrnSmleShiftRpt TrnSmleShiftRpt 5 years
Fit, I am really disappointed you would tell people to so quickly jump into barefoot running. Your muscles have to strengthen as they adjust to running barefoot. People should in no wan jump into barefoot running as it can cause serious injury in their calves, Achilles tendons, and so many other things. I wish you hadn't written so casually about running barefoot--you're doing a disservice to the people who read this site.
Sundown321 Sundown321 5 years
I live a block from the ocean and love doing beach runs! With the summer heat approaching beach runs are also better for that great ocean breeze!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
Also watch for jellyfish!
onlysourcherry onlysourcherry 5 years
Also watch for jellyfish!
kia kia 7 years
I love barefoot beach runs.
kia kia 7 years
I love barefoot beach runs.
Beaner Beaner 7 years
I like to do it barefoot.
Beaner Beaner 7 years
I like to do it barefoot.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 7 years
I have a bad ankle, so I try to avoid running on unstable sufaces. :( When I do go on vacation, most beaches have a running path with a view of the water so I can still enjoy the ocean.
mondaymoos mondaymoos 7 years
I have a bad ankle, so I try to avoid running on unstable sufaces. :(When I do go on vacation, most beaches have a running path with a view of the water so I can still enjoy the ocean.
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Ahhh the beach... :)
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Ahhh the beach... :)
aimeeb aimeeb 7 years
Ahhh the beach... :)
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