Beach Running 101: What You Need to Know About Working Out in the Sand

If you have some beach time scheduled soon, we're stoked for you. And might we suggest that the sand offers more than opportunities to build castles? That soft, granular surface provides excellent resistance, so it's not only an inexpensive way to keep up with your workouts, but walking or running on sand also burns about 30 percent more calories than you would on a harder surface like asphalt. But before you hit the beach for your run, read these tips to get the most out of your workout.

  • Choose your shoes: You don't need a specific style of sneaker 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 shoeless. Running barefoot allows you to use your toes to grip the ground, providing a great workout for 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. And just keep alternating between walking and running as needed.
  • 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.
  • 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 with a broad-spectrum sunscreen, or you may prefer to wear a lightweight, long-sleeved 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: Postrun, 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 great for exfoliating your callused feet, too.