If you're hitting the beach this Summer because you're lucky enough to live close to one or you're vacationing near the ocean, do more than collect shells in the sand. That soft, granular surface offers excellent resistance, so it's not only an inexpensive way to keep up with your workouts, but walking or running on sand burns about 30 percent more calories than you would on a harder surface such as asphalt. Here are some tips to get the most our of your workout.
- Choose your shoes: You don’t need a specific type for beach running, but try to dedicate one pair of running shoes for beach runs so you don’t have to attempt the nearly impossible task of removing all the sand after your workout.
- Or go barefoot. Going without shoes allows you to use your toes to grip the ground, so it's great for the muscles in your feet and calves. Just be careful because running on uneven surfaces can increase the risk of sprains and tendonitis, not to mention cuts and puncture wounds from broken shells and glass. Choose the flattest, cleanest surface you can find. Ease into barefoot running by starting off walking, and gradually move to running to avoid straining your muscles.
- Start on wet sand: Do your first beach run on the wet, firm sand near the water. Do alternating intervals of running on the softer sand for one to two-minute intervals, then switch to walking on the hard, wet sand for three to five minutes to recover. Stick with short runs totaling 15 or 20 minutes until you adapt to the soft sand.
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- Don't expect to run at your usual pace. Hitting the sand is much more challenging than pounding pavement or a treadmill, so you'll need to slow down your speed until you build up strength and endurance.
- Protect yourself from UV rays. Running on the beach offers no protection from the sun, so lube up on a broad-spectrum sunscreen, or you may prefer to wear a lightweight long-sleeve shirt if you're especially prone to sunburns. A hat will shade your face and neck, and sunglasses will protect your eyes from the glare of the sun's reflection on the water.
- Finish barefoot: Post-run, take off your shoes and cool down by walking barefoot on the beach for a few minutes to strengthen your feet and ankles. Sand is a great exfoliator, too, so it’s like you’re getting a natural pedicure.