The beauty of beach running
Even in an Irish summer there are plenty of chances to run on the beach, but what are the benefits? Here is an expert’s take on why it works
RUNNING ON THE beach is more challenging than road or grass running, and uses muscles in a slightly different way – your body has to work much harder to push you forward, especially on softer, deeper sand.
Catherine Cradock is a chartered physiotherapist with Athletics Ireland. “Beach running is a great workout, and gets you working, particularly your foot, calf, buttocks and lower- back muscles more – burning butt and calves are really common,” she says.
“If you start running on the beach and do too much, too soon, you could injure yourself, especially if you have a history of injury, so approach it gradually.
“Jumping into the sea at the end of your run can be a nice and enjoyable way to help your muscles recover, but make sure to stretch out tired muscles afterwards, too.
“Sticking to the hardening, firmer sand can make the transition a little easier, and try to avoid running continuously across a slope (if it’s unavoidable, you might need to run up and back, rather than in a continuous loop).
“Regarding barefoot beach running, remember the basic health and safety considerations, such as broken glass and shells. The sand can also be very hot, if you’re in a foreign country. However, again, it does get new muscles working.
“Start with a five- or 10-minute run, see how your body responds over the next couple of days, and build gradually from there if all is well. Note that the barefoot running phenomenon does advise taking many months to make the transition.”
1Warm-up for 10 minutes on the hard sand, gradually picking up from slow to training pace. Then move to soft sand and run one minute at 80-90 per cent pace. Recover with a one-minute slow jog on the hard sand, then return to the soft sand for one-minute burst. Do between five and 10 repetitions, followed by a 10-minute cooldown on the hard sand.
2On the soft sand, do intervals of two-minute runs, followed by a one-minute warm-down on hard sand. Build up distance over the sessions.
3Run against the slant of the soft sand – or a dune (only if it’s open to you and not protected). Run hard into the angle, with the number of repetitions depending on steepness and length.
4Take advantage of the surface and mix up your workout. Warm up for five minutes, then run for five minutes, stop and do two minutes of push-ups, sit-ups, and lunges. Repeat four times.