CHANGE THE FEELING; WALK OR RUN THE BEACH
Eager to train on the sandy shores of a nearby big lake or ocean? If a move or a vacation stay brings you closer to this possibility you might read “Benefits and Dangers of Beach Running” by David Gonzalez for Runnerclick.com. In spite of the item’s overall positive vibe and longer list of benefits (which include less impact force, greater calorie burn, strengthening of some muscles) the author quietly concludes that the increased injury risk of beach running outweighs its advantages.
Gonzalez advises that runners not completely replace regular training but gradually increase beach running sessions. The dangers identified include stress on knees and ankles, exaggerated pronation, and creation of muscle imbalances with incline running.
An article from Competitor.com by Kelly O’Meara, “Everything You Need to Know About Running on the Sand,” mostly helpfully discusses how to get started doing it and provides three sample workouts. This piece also indicates that it takes more energy to run on this softer surface, with a good chunk of the effort expended to in mechanical stabilization.
WomensHealth.com takes another approach, pointing out the logistical difficulties associated with beach running, in the article “10 Things No One Tells You About Running on the Beach”. These annoyances may seem trivial but are worth noting for the purpose of maintaining realistic expectations and preparing for the session. Unrelenting exposure to sun and the possibility of encountering beach debris, human ‘obstacles’, and an unpredictable terrain are a few of the issues that surf-side runners might anticipate, as listed by author Mary Patterson Broome.
The reason such advice is written is that the combination of water, sand, and sun presents an almost irresistible draw to runners and fitness enthusiasts. What a fabulous environment in which to exercise! Especially at the times of day when the sunlight has a softer, golden, or sparkly effect on the surrounding landscape.
My personal experience with beach running is fairly extensive. I’ve trained regularly on the shores bordering the Pacific (Los Angeles), Lake Michigan (Michigan), and The Gulf of Mexico (Texas). I agree with all three articles! The most important message embedded in each is that there is an increased risk of injury associated with running on sand.
The mechanical challenges of stabilization and the increased work needed to power forward on the softer surface represent opportunities to create or promote existing muscle imbalances or to overtrain. The advice to advance workouts slowly and gradually, and not to replace all hard-surface with sand sessions is spot on. Consider using the beach to cross-train with walking high intensity intervals or moderately-vigorous paced continuous sets.
The beach is a tougher running venue than appearances promise. One of the greatest benefits of getting exercise on it is listed in the Gonzalez article; it will “change the space and change the feeling” of your workout and the day.
BRIDGE TO PHYSICAL SELF
Running, walking, and fitness activities enable us to experience our physical selves in a world mostly accessed through use of fingers on a mobile device.
EARNED RUNS is edited and authored by me, runner and founder. I began participating in road races before 5Ks were common. I've been a dietitian, practiced and taught clinical pathology, and been involved with research that utilized pathology. I am fascinated with understanding the origins of disease as well as health.
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