There are many great reasons to head to the coast, especially during the warmer months of the year. But, if you’re also looking to switch up your exercise routine, running on the beach delivers a first-class workout.
A harder workout
If you’re used to running on a hard surface such as pavement, you’ll quickly notice that’s it more difficult to run on sand. This is because sand moves when you step on it, forcing your feet to work harder as they land. Experts reckon that you expend 1.6 times more energy running on sand compared to hard surfaces. Plus, by burning up to 30% more calories, beach running is perfect for those looking to lose weight.
Because running on a beach is more intense than on other surfaces, bear in mind that you’ll get tired faster than normal. To counteract the intensity of the running, start off on wet sand near the shoreline, as this is easier to run on. Stick to wearing trainers, to begin with, but should you decide to run barefoot (which wakes up muscles in the toes, feet and lower legs), do watch out for any sharp objects!
Improves coordination and balance
Sand isn’t a stable, flat surface, so when your foot lands on it, it shifts as you sink into it. This calls for the stabilising muscles in your feet, ankles and legs to work that bit harder to adjust your balance. Many of these muscles aren’t needed when running on hard surfaces, so not only does beach running help to strengthen them – thus preventing injuries – but it improves your balance and co-ordination. Even better, the muscles used to stabilise your core are put to good use when running on a soft surface like sand, so it’s a great way to enhance your core strength.
Although beach running is more challenging than pavement running, one of its benefits is that it creates less impact on your joints and muscles. This is because sand is a soft, movable surface, taking your feet longer to sink into it. This puts less stress and pressure on your ankles and knees and minimises the risk of impact injuries and shin splints.
Hone your running technique
There’s nothing like a change of scenery to revitalise your running sessions, but pounding the beach can also help to improve your running technique. The reason being that your body needs to adapt to the softer surface. As the sand gives way when you take a stride, you lose elastic energy that would normally be used for the next running step. Instead, you need to create a highly efficient technique to run that involves striking with your midfoot while stabilising your push off. By stepping up your running technique, your body is challenged, becomes more alert and more adaptable to different training scenarios.
Top-notch resistance training
If you’re looking for a varied form of resistance training in natural surroundings, running on the beach is hard to beat. As well as sprinting on the sand, you’re likely to find other surrounding features that you can incorporate into your workout, such as scrambling up sand dunes, jumping over water pools and taking a dip in the sea.
Few things in life can be more exhilarating than feeling the sand beneath your toes as you run along the shoreline, with the sound of the sea and the gentle breeze stimulating your senses. Not only is beach running worth its weight in gold for getting your body in shape, but it’s a great soother for the mind and soul.