3 Reasons Why Beach Runs Are Good For You

3 Reasons Why Beach Runs Are Good For You

Running on sand requires 1.6 times the energy that running on a hard surface requires, and your body has to work harder to respond to “external modifications,” said Dr. Thierry M. Lejeune, of St. Luke’s University Clinics in Belgium, lead author of a study on beach running that appeared last year in The Journal of Experimental Biology.

If you want to get faster and be a stronger runner, run on the beach.  According to the quote above, running on the beach requires 1.6x more work then running on a hard surface.  That’s 60% more work to cover the same distance as you would on a hard surface. That’s like running with ankle weights or a weight vest.

Don’t believe me?  Try a simple out and back course.  Out on the beach, then back on the road.  I went for a run this weekend down the beach.  Long slow distance for about 30 minutes.  I ran out on the beach, right along the waters edge and back on the road.  Although it was nice running along the water, I couldn’t wait to get back to the hard, even surface of the road.  When I did get to the road, it was so much nicer and a hell of a lot easier.

Running on the beach will make you stronger and faster because:

  1. Uneven surface are good. The soft, uneven surface will force your feet, ankles, knees and hips stronger and more stable. Stronger feet, ankles, knees and hips = faster more stable running = PR’s!
  2. Soft sand, strong muscles. “There’s more drag on your feet as you’re doing that training, so when you’re in an environment where there’s not that drag, your legs will not fatigue as easily,” said Dr. Mason, who grew up in Jamaica and ran intervals on the beach to gain strength and speed as a sprinter for his high school track team. “When beach runners get on the normal pavement, they move even more quickly because there’s not that kind of impediment.”
  3. More work, more cardio. Because running in sand requires more work from your muscles, you’ll also benefit from a cardio-respitory kick in the ass!  Better lungs = PR’s!

As nice as running along the beach sounds, the beach does present some risks and challenges.  For example:

  • The angle of the sand.  Unless you time your run for low tide, chances are you’ll be running on the hard pack sand on a sever angle.  This is risky because it’ll mess up your hips and knees. I definitely notice this when I ran this weekend.  Check the image below and notice the angle the people are walking on.  Now imagine running on that in soft sand.  Think about what that will do to your hips, ankles, knees and arches.

Sunset-Jupiter-Island-08-30-2013_5541

  • Wet and sandy.  Make sure you wear socks and shoes that won’t give you blisters. The sand that seeps into your shoes will get between your toes and anythign else that give it enough space and you will get blisters.

Give these beach run workouts a try and see if you notice the benefits of the soft, uneven sand on your next run:

  1. Long, slow distance along the water – out and back.  Run out and back.  10-15 mintues each way.  Make sure you run out/back alternating sides so the angle of the beach is on one side, then the other side coming back.  Note: if this bothers your knees, ankles, feet or hips, find flatter ground.
  2. Soft sand sprints. Try 10x 30 seconds of sprinting in the soft sand.  Start with 60 seconds rest between sprints.  Try to maintain the same distance each interval.
  3. Alternating beach/road run.  If you’re lucky enough to have your beach next to the road, try alternating segments of road and beach running.  Go fast on the beach, recover on the road.  Pick your time and intensity.

Food for your brain

Beach RunningRunners World 

The Challenges of Beach Running – NY Times

WOD

Sunday funday 30 minutes of running.  15 on the beach in soft sand, 15 on the road.