Beach Running Tips and Sand Workouts

If you're doing speed work in the sand, then an old road racing flat works well. Shoes with a tight mesh instead of an open mesh are also better. A closed mesh can keep sand out of your shoes when running on the soft stuff. It's unavoidable to keep sand out of your shoes, so wear socks that prevent blisters or put some Vaseline or similar products on your feet before a run.

If you choose to run barefoot, be on the lookout for shells, broken grass and other debris on the beach.

How to Navigate Slanted Beaches

Some beaches have more slanted surfaces than others. Even at low tide on the most level beaches, you'll find slanted portions. Running on a slant can put more pressure on your knees, ankles and hips, and could cause injuries. Doing an out-and-back run on the sand can prevent the unevenness from affecting only one side of the body. If you feel any pain, shorten your run and stick to level surfaces.

Sand Workouts

The Zigzag:

  • Run 10 minutes on the wet, hard-packed sand, gradually accelerating from a slow jog to training pace if you can.
  • Head to the dry, soft sand for a one-minute hard run (less than one minute if your breathing gets out of control).
  • Cut back to the firm sand for one minute of slow recovery running. Keep these zigzag patterns going until you've done five to 10 one-minute spurts.
  • Cool down with a 10-minute easy jog on wet-packed sand.

Sand-Hill Ascents:

  • Run 10 minutes on the wet, hard-packed sand, gradually accelerating from a slow jog to training pace if you can.
  • Find a tall sand hill or dune that's open to runners. Be aware that most dunes are protected by law so you may not be able to run on them. When in doubt, ask a lifeguard or park ranger, or look for signs that say, "stay off the dunes."
  • Run to the top or until your breathing gets too hard to continue. Jog back down. Keep jogging around the hill until you've caught your breath. Do five to 15 ascents, depending on the height of the hill.
  • Cool down with a 10-minute easy jog on wet-packed sand.

More: Speedwork in Disguise

Long Runs: You can do all or parts of your long run on the sand as long as it's low tide. You don't want to run long in the dry, soft sand.

Tempos: Tempo runs or goal race-pace runs can be difficult in the sand, even in wet sand that is packed well. Don't expect to run your usual paces, but if you are fit enough and have experience running in the sand, you can come close to your normal tempo pace on a low tide as long as you don't have to fight a lot of wind.

More: 4 Tempo Run Workouts

Other Beach Running Tips

Sunscreen is a must, as the sun's rays beat down from directly overhead and reflect off the water. Sunglasses and a hat or visor are also helpful in keeping you comfortable and focused on your run, instead of that fireball in the sky blinding you. Try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun is the most intense. Don't forget to stay hydrated.

Running on the sand can provide a soft surface and beautiful view, and can be as challenging or relaxed as you wish. Following the above tips will ensure that you have a positive experience that will keep you coming back for more. 

More: Beachside Races for This Summer

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