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Train for your hike by running at the beach

  • Jun 19, 2015

It's beach season, which means most people are going out to the shore on vacation or for a little day trip relaxation. For others, the beach is a prime location for a little cardio workout to boost stamina. 

Running barefoot on the beach is considered to be a tremendously beneficial exercise for some runners. It provides a far different experience from running on hard ground, and it can strengthen different groups of muscles in the process.

That training can help you tackle woodland hikes more effectively in the long run.

What the experts have to say about beach running
Like most other workouts, beach running takes time and care to get into. Remember, ease into new training activities. If you haven't run through the beach or sand before, plan a short runs to adjust at first. Once you're up to speed, you'll start to notice some of the greater benefits.

"Our muscles perform more mechanical work when running or walking on sand than on a hard surface," Thierry Lejeune M.D., of St. Luke's University Clinics in Belgium, told The New York Times.

Runners need to work harder to displace the sand, and their bodies rely on smaller surrounding muscles in the calves, ankles and feet to pick up the slack. That's one of the reasons runners experience sore calves after a short time running on the beach compared to longer distances on hard terrain. 

According to a study in the The Journal of Experimental Biology, running in the sand requires around 1.15 times more mechanical work than running on a hard surface. However, that amount can increase or decrease depending on the consistency of the sand.

To make a long story short, beach running requires more physical effort and can strengthen muscles in the ankles, feet and calves that don't normally experience this sort of activity, especially when running barefoot.

A shortlist of beach running tips
There are dozens of ways to train for beach running specifically. Perhaps the best way is to run slower and for shorter periods of first. This is why wearing a watch is critical. You may also consider a device with a watch thermometer, as the heat at the beach can be a danger in some circumstances.

There are other ways to ease into the exercise, too. While starting out, it's a good idea to consider the tides. At low tide, it's easier to run on the more densely packed sand near the waves. At the same time, the ground is still soft enough to run without the sharp impact that pavement provides. Consider a watch tide graph so you know when the water is receding for prime running conditions.

As you get used to the hard packed sand, start inching your way to the dry, softer stuff. It's even easier on the joints, but trotting through it is a tough workout. 

When you're just beginning, you may consider keeping the shoes on as well. Barefoot running can put strain on parts of your feet and ankles that don't normally get a good workout. Don't run too fast or too often to avoid an injury. Don't forget that there can be sharp rocks, shells or even glass on the beach. Keep an eye on your course.

Finally, always remember to keep a water source close by. Dehydration can be even more frustrating with all those waves breaking on the shore. Bring a bottle with you to beat the heat and fuel up.

The PRG270B-1 is great watch for a run on the beach or a hike on the Appalachian trail. No matter where you are this Pro Trek watch will help you to stay on time, watch out for storms and help you find your way back home with the digital compass.

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