Running on the Beach

Stay Fit on Holiday with my Beach Runner’s Guide

Running on the beach is not only a pleasure in itself – it can help burn of those extra calories from your holiday indulgences. Before you set of to pound the sand, there are safety factors to consider. This page covers the key things you need to know before running on the beach.

Here is what you’ll find in this beach runner’s guide:

  • The Perfect Running Beach: Long, quiet and with plenty of wet (hard) sand, plus other factors.
  • Soft Sand vs. Wet Sand: What you need to know for each surface to avoid injury.
  • Shoes vs. Barefoot: Hazards come in many forms on a beach.
  • Beware of Cambers: Slopes are a natural hazard, and will affect your run.
  • Best Time of Day: When to run on the sand for the maximum benefits.
  • Other Factors: This covers the sun, crowds, litter and uneven surfaces.

What Does the Perfect Running Beach Look Like?

If you could create the perfect beach for a holiday run, what would it look like. Here is my bucket list!

Firstly, it would be quiet. You really don’t want to be dodging kids, sunbathers or dogs while you get your daily exercise.

Secondly, it would be flat. As you will see below, running across a slope can put more pressure on one side of your body. It would also have wet (hard) sand. The ideal time for this is when the tide goes out. This is easier to run on than dry, powdered sand.

Thirdly, the beach would be long, and not involve breaks or features which mean you need to stop your run. Not many beaches stretch to a mile, though that would be perfect!

Finally, the setting would be beautiful – so you can lose yourself in the experience.

Soft Sand vs. Wet Sand for Running

Now, you don’t want to be splashing around in puddles. At the same time you will find harder wet sand much easier to run on than dry powdery stuff.

It has been calculated that dry sand is 1.6x harder (in terms of workout intensity) than road running. You’ll have to push harder on every stride to get traction.

Wetter sand is harder, though still has some give. You’ll find this a little harder than tarmac to run on. For me this surface feels great, a nice mix of springy and solid.

Why not combine them. Your main run should be on the wet stand. Then, to up the intensity – a 5 minute switch to the powdered version is ideal.

Barefoot Beach Running Hazards

That feeling of sand between your toes is unbeatable. It does come with it’s own hazards. Many are natural, in the form of shells and small stones (which can be sharp). A cut foot is going to stop you in your tracks (possibly for the rest of your trip). This is simply not worth the risk, which is why shoes are advised for beach runs. Add to this glass and other litter left behind by inconsiderate holidaymakers, and there is one more reason to pack your running shoes.

Barefoot Beach Running Hazards

Beware of Cambers!

Beaches are sloped, some more than others. You’ll be running across this slope if you follow the line of the sea. This puts a lot more pressure on one side of your body – and can lead to injury. Switching directions is a must to balance things out.

Ideally, you’ll look for a spot where the beach is least sloped. Depending on the location, this is often close to the low-tide mark.

On a positive note, you can use slopes to your advantage. Sprints directly up the slope, followed by a slower jog back down can add serious intensity to any beach run.

Best Time of Day for Beach Running?

Mornings are perfect for any beach run. You’ll beat the crowds, and sometimes have the whole beach to yourself. You’ll also start the day with a positive experience. If you are up early enough, you’ll also miss the most intense period of sunshine (midday).

Evenings have the benefit of cooler temperatures. You might find more litter on the beach at this point. This is another reason to take some shoes.

Tides should be factored into your schedule. That wetter, harder sand is available when the tide is going out. You can look up the tide times for any beach online.

Safety for Beach Running

Other Beach Running Factors to Consider

I mentioned the sun in relation to the best time of day. You’ll be exposed on the beach, with little or no shade. This means extra sun cream is a must. Cover up well, before you get fooled by the breeze and end up burned.

Tracking your runs is a popular way to build motivation. You’ll be rooting to beat your personal best, or to keep a streak of runs going. You don’t need to shell out £100’s on a state of the art running watch. There are plenty of easy solutions like fitbit trackers and even simple pedometers which accomplish the same goals.

Finally, if you are staying in a popular resort, the beaches might be crowded all day long. Check the local maps. There might be a non-tourist beach just a little way up the coast!

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