As an alternative to pounding pavements or gym treadmills, running on sandy seashores is a good way to train.

If you’re lucky and on vacation, a run on the beach can also boost your motivation with a change of scenery.

Here’s a look at some of the advantages of running on the beach and how to get ready to hit the sand.

The benefits

Running on sand is an excellent way of diversifying your running experience or workout while keeping injury risk and impact to a minimum.

Unlike concrete and hard surfaces, sand cushions the foot’s impact on the ground.

This creates fewer shockwaves that can damage the body’s musculoskeletal structure.

It’s therefore easier on joints in the knee and foot, as well as tendons, making them less vulnerable to injury or tendonitis.

Wet or dry sand also creates an unstable surface, which helps to naturally strengthen the muscles that support and stabilise ankles.

The muscles will have to work harder to help you gain speed, using more energy.

Running barefoot on the beach or in the sea – up to mid-calf depth – also helps improve the flow of blood back to the heart, as well as blood circulation, and reduces feelings of heavy legs.

Going up dunes or hills is an excellent way of making muscles and ligaments work harder while also increasing cardiovascular intensity.

Just be careful not to strain knees and ankles.

Try running on the soft sand first and try it with and without shoes

Prepare this way

Stick to the same warm-up you use when you’re at the park, in town or the woods.

Build up progressively, starting with gentle sessions on flat terrain and increasing the intensity and the distance little by little.

Running barefoot is perfectly possible and pleasant, so long as the beach is clean and doesn’t have too many pebbles or shells.

You can also alternate sessions, with some runs barefoot in water or along the shore, and others wearing running shoes.

Beginners

For beginners, it is better to run on wet sand.

Wet sand is more compact and requires less intense effort than running on soft, dry sand.

Note that doing it on sand is quite different from running in a city or park.

Don’t expect to keep the same pace.

Steps feel harder and become more tiring more quickly on sand.

Make sure you stretch after each session too.

Precautions

Watch out for high temperatures and the lack of shade when running on the beach.

Make sure you stay hydrated, drinking enough water to avoid heatstroke.

Protect your skin with a suitable sunscreen and head out wearing a t-shirt, a hat and sunglasses.

It’s better to run in the morning or at sunset when it’s less hot and the beach is quieter. – AFP Relaxnews