A blog by runners. For runners.

The dos and don’ts of running on the beach

running-on-the-beach-dos-and-donts

We runners are a crazy bunch, aren’t we? While many people are lounging away on their beach vacations right now, all we can think about when we get to the sand and water is “when can I run?”

Few things beat running along an empty beach at sunrise. But as charming as this scene may seem, running in the sand can be hard on your body. Following these dos and don’ts can help you have a safe and enjoyable beach running experience:

Do:

  • Keep runs short. Running on sand puts extra pressure on the knees, ankles, Achilles tendons, and hips.
  • Time your runs with low tide. During low tide, the water recedes and leaves behind hard, packed sand. This surface is most similar to other running surfaces — like asphalt or concrete — and running on it will be easier on your body at first.
  • Expect to be sore. Since sand is softer than other running surfaces, the muscles around the ankles work extra hard to keep feet steady during landing. This is why your calf muscles burn after a beach run.
  • Take steps to prevent blisters. Sand is bound to get in your shoes no matter how well they fit. Wearing tight, moisture-wicking socks and covering your feet with BodyGlide or Vaseline can help prevent blisters.
  • Mix it up. If you’re lucky enough to live near the beach, don’t run on the beach every day. Mixing up running surfaces can help ward off injuries.

Don’t:

  • Don’t worry too much about your pace. Running on sand is hard – it requires 1.6 times the amount of energy that running on harder surfaces requires — so it’s normal for your pace to suffer. It’s worth it though — experts say running on sand burns about 30 percent more calories than running on the road.
  • Don’t run on a slant. Running on a slanted surface is a recipe for injury. Find a stretch of sand that’s relatively even — this is easier to do during low tide. If you can’t avoid a slightly slanted terrain, do a short out-and-back. This will stop the unevenness from affecting just one side of your body.
  • Don’t go barefoot if you’re a beginner. Unless you’re used to beach or barefoot running, it’s not a good idea to run barefoot on the sand. Transitioning to beach running and transitioning to barefoot running is each tough in their own right, so it’s best not to do them at the same time. If you can’t resist a barefoot run on the beach, though, just keep it super short — limit your run to 15 minutes.
  • Don’t forget to keep your eyes peeled. Watch out for sharp shells, glass, debris, and holes. This is another benefit to wearing shoes on beach runs.
  • Don’t head out without sunscreen, water, and a hat. The beach doesn’t provide any shade from the hot sun, so take proper precautions. Sunscreen is a must because the sun’s rays will reflect off the water, so the sun will hit you from more angles than just overhead.

Do you like beach running? Are there any tips we missed? I grew up on the Jersey Shore and I always rewarded myself after a hot run with a jump in the ocean. There’s nothing better!

Written by Jen Matz.

More summer running tips: