Health gains aside, there are obvious bonuses of running on the beach. As well as the considerably improved surroundings that a sea front has to offer, there is also the fresh sea air and potential for a cool dip at the end of your finish line – perfect for recovery for your overheated muscles.
The beach itself will form an obstacle course or sorts. The various hurdles, the ground’s changes in consistency and likely lack of a straight line will serve as agility training and work in your favor for strengthening your legs and working your midriff. You can also utilize the obstacles and varieties in the terrain, which you wouldn’t get to the same degree with road running (and not at all with a treadmill). Save your sprints for the clear, flat straights and work different muscles, channeling your core, calf muscles and hamstrings for the explosive power of leaps and turns when avoiding an obstacle.
1. Increases your calorie burn
Running on the beach is a real fat burner! Because the muscle groups involved in running have to work harder than usual, your body requires more energy. The best thing about this is that your muscles also require more energy post-run in order to recover properly. This means that post-workout, you burn more calories than usual, which is generally known as the afterburn effect.
2. Less Impact
When you run on the beach, your foot lands on a surface that shifts beneath you. As a result, this creates a “softer” surface for your foot compared to pavement. That means your lower body (think ankles, knees, and hips) is subject to less pounding and stress when you run.
3. Beautiful Views and a Change of Pace
Change is a good thing. Changing training surfaces, routes and routines is not only good for you physically, but it’s also good for you mentally.
While beach running can help to make you a stronger runner, don’t dive in too quickly. As with anything new, it’s best to ease your way into running by the ocean if you aren’t accustomed to it. There is a risk of injury, especially ankle sprains, Achilles injuries and aggravating your plantar fascia.
Take it slow, starting with a light 10-15 minutes at a time. Start by running at low tide on the hard, packed sand by the water’s edge. This will give your leg muscles a chance to get acclimated to the extra work required. And wear shoes. Not only can there be lots of different debris lying on the beach, but shoes will also help your feet get used to the new surface.
4. Strengthens Your Weak Links
Sand creates an unstable surface for your foot. In order to stabilize yourself during your beach run, your body is forced to use the smaller muscles in your lower body, particularly in your foot and ankle. For most runners, these muscles can be weak because we don’t have to use them as much when we run on paved roads. By strengthening these stabilizing muscles on the beach, you guard yourself against potential muscle imbalances and injury.
5. Gives you the most value for your time
Due to the higher demands on your muscles, coordination and stability, your body tires more quickly when running on sand. Therefore, it is a good idea to start off with shorter workouts. It is better to increase the intensity of your runs and use the new conditions for sprints, intervals and speed training. You can also split your training into two workouts per day. This allows your body to recover more effectively in between.