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Tips For Running on the Beach

7 Ways to Ramp Up Your Beach Run

Ready for a beach run? Get tips on how to make your sandy run even better, thanks to our friends at Self.

Who's getting some surf and sand this weekend? I thought it would be a good time to talk about a favorite summer pastime: running on the beach, specifically how to nail your next sandy jog. One word of advice, though? You may wanna skip the string bikini.

To get the scoop on why beach running is such a great exercise — and for expert pointers on how to make the most of it — I turned to NYC-based running coach Gia Alvarez, a 3:35 marathoner, Lululemon ambassador and blogger at Run Gia Run. She's currently vacationing at the beach (how convenient!) in Maine, but she took some time to share these top tips.

Know your beach: Take a look at the tide — is it high or low? Do you have a landmark to identify your starting place? Is the sand packed with people — or will it be 20 minutes from now? The best time to head out is low tide when it's not too crowded (before 10 a.m. or after 4 p.m., preferably, when the sun's not so hot and straight overhead). The last thing you need is to be hurdling over beach towels and sand castles, Alvarez says.

[Side note from your trusty fitness blogger: Last year I set out on a very narrow strip of beach in California, with the ocean on one side and a cement wall on the other. When I turned around to head home, the tide had risen all the way to the wall! My only choices were to wade back in the surf or climb up and run on the street. Don't let this happen to you!]

Pick your path: If you choose to run in soft sand, find a packed path that was made from tire tracks or sand groomers, says Alvarez. (It will be challenging enough even on the packed path, trust us!) On wet sand, the best place to run is just at the water's edge. The sand will be smooth, the area will be less slanted and, every once in a while, you'll get a cool splash of water on your toes.

Adjust your pace: Between the wind, the sand, and the sun, you'll find that you're slower than usual on the beach. And that's okay: Your workout is still about 30 percent harder, so you're getting an unbelievable workout, even if you don't feel as fast. 

Focus on your form: Land softly on the ball of your foot, and propel yourself forward by leaning into your stride. You should also shorten your stride length by taking smaller, quicker steps, and pulling your feet up to turn them over, rather than pushing them into the sand. Staying light on your feet will help you from sinking — and will make your run easier overall.

Read on for more tips!

Go barefoot . . . or not: Running in the sand without shoes is a great way to focus on your foot strike — but if you don't want to be crazy sore (or worse, injured) afterward, ease into it: Start with 15 to 20 minutes tops, and slowly add 5 minute increments as you get used to the difference in technique. Running in shoes is fine, too, but choose a lightweight, flexible-soled shoe (here are some minimal sneaks we love) so you still get the benefit of unstable ground underneath. 

Use the heat to your (hair's) advantage: Before you head out for your run, coat your hair with conditioner, coconut oil or even olive oil, says Alvarez, and pull it back in a braid or pony tail. You'll get a a fantastic deep conditioning treatment and a workout at the same time — score.

Protect your skin: Sand can be a great exfoliant for your feet, but it can also lead to blisters on tender feet. Slather some Vaseline or an anti-chafing lotion on your feet before you head out! Oh, and of course: Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen!

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