The Ultimate Beach Workout For Runners

Today I’m going to share with you some of my favorite exercises you can do on the sand to help improve your strength, speed and agility.

Therefore, if you are looking for ways to spice up your workouts, then keep on reading.

Where to Do the Sand Workout Routine

You can perform this workout routine on the beach (duh), but if you don’t live in a coastal city, then a long jump pit or a sand volleyball court can do the trick. As long as there is sand, enough space and it’s safe to work out there, you are in a good place.

Benefits of Sand Workouts

Here are some reasons to do sand workouts more frequently:

Strengthens your lower body. Running in the sand can strengthen your ankles, toes and other muscles below the knee in ways that running on flat surface does not. The added resistance of the sand pushes your muscles harder and forces them to work much harder than they are used to.

Strengthens stabilizer muscles. As a runner, your stabilizer muscles are worked the least, but with the sand steadily shifting under your feet, these small stabilizer muscles are put to work because you need to engage them to keep balance and reduce the risk of injury.

More challenging. You can do plenty of bodyweight exercises on the sand, but the resistance of the sands will make these exercises more challenging than usual. So if you are looking to up the ante with your strength workouts in a new and creative way, embrace the sands.

Improve speed and agility. If you are looking to run faster and improve your explosive power, then the sand can help. Sand provides you with the extra resistance you need to challenge your muscles in ways they are not used to, which can help you run faster and become more explosive on your feet.

Hello to the beach. If you are lucky enough to live near a beach, then this workout is perfect and will help you break away from the monotony of a gym,  andimprove your mood from spending time in the sun.

Requires no equipment. The only equipment you need are your running shoes (or you can do it barefoot if you choose to), your bodyweight, and of course, sand, for a total body workout that will challenge both of your aerobic and anaerobic systems.

 

How To Start Beach Running

In today’s post, I’m going to show exactly what you need to do to run on the beach and get the most from the session.

Choose the Right Beach

Choosing the right beach is the first step. After all, not all beaches are created equal. Some have more slanted surfaces than others.  Some are full of broken seashells, rocks, and garbage that can be painful to run on.

As a result, whether you choose to tackle the foreshore or backshore, opt for the section of beach that provides the right conditions for you.

Lots of beginners make the mistake of running on the soft sand. They think that it’s going to be gentler on the muscles and bones. But it’s not the case.

Soft sand has lots of “give,” which makes running on it hard and may cause foot and ankles injuries, especially if you aren’t used to running in it.

To stay safe, go for the firmer sand. This offers as much as cushioning as the softer sand, but you can also run on it for longer without risking pain. The best place to run on wet sand is just at the water’s edge.

After a few runs, feel free to progress to the softer sand as your lower body gets stronger.

Protect Yourself from The Sun

Beach running exposes you to direct sunlight, which can put you at a higher risk of sunburns and other skin trouble.

Not to mention that According to research, runners are more prone to skin cancer and other skin issues because of excessive sun exposure.

To reduce the risks, lube up with a broad-spectrum sunscreen over any exposed area. If you’re prone to sunburns, use SPF 50 or higher, and slather it on.

Another helpful measure is to avoid running during peak hours—usually between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. when the sun’s intensity is at its greatest. Instead run early in the morning or later in the evening if possible.

To stay safe, wear a lightweight, long-sleeved shirt. You should also consider putting a hat (or a visor) and sunglasses to protect your face from the rays. This is especially the case if you’re prone to sunburns.

For the full guide on preventing sunburns while running, check my post here.

Manage Your Expectations

According to research, beach running forces you to consume more than energy than running on the hard surface, shedding as many as 1.6 more calories per mile.

Since beach running is way more challenging, you’ll need to slow down until you build up your strength and endurance. Do not expect to run at your usual pace.

The Right Start

For your first few beach runs, start on the hard, wet sand near the water. As previously stated, it’s much easier to run on the wet stuff than on the soft, dry sand. Shoot for no more than 15 to 20 minutes to make sure you don’t run too much too soon.

Next, slowly add 5-minute increments as your body gets used to the sand.

Once you’re confident, you can slowly add two to three minutes intervals on the drier and softer sand, then switch to jogging or walking on the firm, wet sand until you recover.

What’s more?

As a beginner, do not do all your runs at the beach—even if you live near the ocean. Too much beach running early on may lead to Achilles tendon and ankle issues.

Barefoot or Not

The big mistake I made on my first beach run is going barefoot before my feet were ready for the sand. And as I have already mentioned, I paid dearly for it.

So, if you haven’t been regularly running barefoot before your beach adventure, running, even for a few minutes, will place a huge amount of stress and strain on your plantar fascia, Achilles, and calves—which can result in soreness, pain, and blisters. And you don’t want any of that.

Of course, running through the sand feels amazing, not to mention the pristine scenery that comes with. But here’s the little caveat. Unless your feet are calloused enough, moving through the sand for a lengthy period is going to irritate your skin.

Not only that, but barefoot beach running can also result in or worsen Achilles issues, plantar fasciitis, or ankle sprains because of the lack of proper support from running shoes.

That’s why I typically urge beginners to tackle the beach with their shoes on—at least the beginning. Wearing shoes provides support as well as protection from sharp objects hidden in the sand, such as rocks, sharp seashells, broken glass, and other human-made rubble.

As a rule, go for lightweight, flexible-soled trainers, so you’re still getting the most out of the unstable surface underneath. You can also consider choosing shoes that have a tight mesh over open mesh—especially if you’re planning on doing lots of beaches running.

If you decide to go shoeless, then be careful. If you’re a regular, shoe-sporting, runner then you’re just asking for trouble. You’ve been warned.

Stay Hydrated

Drink roughly one ounce of water per every 10 pounds of weight in the three to four hours before your run. Just remember to give yourself enough time to use the restroom before you head out.

For longer beach runs—anything lasting for more than 30 minutes—you’ll need to carry water or plan your course along water stops.

What’s more?

Ensure that you’re well hydrated by performing the sweat test.

Weigh yourself before and after your beach runs. This is the most effective way to measure your fluid losses and needs.

Stay Safe

Before you head out of the door, please be careful, especially if you are just starting out. Just like any other training program, if you do too much too soon, you could get injured. Therefore, start with shorter workouts, lasting no more than 20 to 25 minutes, and build it gradually.

Plus, make sure to wear sunglasses, a hat and sunscreen, and carry a bottle of water with you to ensure that you are well hydrated throughout the workout.

The Ultimate Beach Workout For Runners

The Warm-up

Start your workout with a proper warm-up. Jog slowly for 5 to 10 minutes, then do a bunch of dynamic exercises, such as squats, inchworms, lunges, etc, to fire your muscles and raise your heart rate.

Try this awesome dynamic warm-up.

Exercise One: Sand Sprints

Sand sprints will feel much harder because of the sands’ added resistance, making them much more challenging than your regular track sprints. So pace yourself here and be careful.

Start by marking out a line distance of 80 to 100 feet in a flat section of the sand. You can also mark the distance using two canes or whatever.

Next, perform the sprints by running as fast as you can from one landmark to the next.

Make sure that each sprint is lasting for at least 15 to 20 seconds. Take a 10-second break between each sprint.

Sprint with good technique at all time. The right form is vital here, and it will both make you go faster and protect you against injury. So make sure to run as tall as you can, with your back straight, torso and hips facing forward at all times. Plus, generate momentum by swinging your arms back and forth—locked at 90-degree angle.

Please be careful here if you a history of Achilles tendinitis or ankle sprains since running on sand can increase the risk of injury (or re-injury).

 

Exercise Two: Single-leg Jumps

Begin this exercise by jogging to create the forward momentum.

Next, after a few feet, forcefully push off with your lead foot, leaping from one leg to the other with minimal contact with the sand as you drive your lead arm forward.

Stay light on your feet the entire time. Make sure to land with your knee slightly bent, moving immediately into the next jump.

Exercise Three: Prisoner Squat Jumps

Stand tall with your hands behind your head and feet shoulder width apart.

Next, while keeping your chest up, arms in place, and head up, squat down as low as you can, then explode up and jump forward several feet.

As you land on the ground, assume a squat position to absorb the impact, then jump again.

Repeat the squat jumps for 10 to 12 times, covering as much distance as possible without losing form.

Exercise Four: Walking Lunges

Assume a standing position with feet hip-width part, chest up and core engaged.

Next, step your right foot forward, and assume a low lunge position, bending both knees to a 90 degrees angle. Then pull your body up over the right foot and step forward to the next lunge.

Just be careful here, performing walking lunges with bad form can lead to a high risk for an injury to your back, hips, knees or ankles. So keep good form throughout the movement.

Exercise Five: Bear Crawl

Begin by standing feet hips width apart, then bend your knees, and fold forward and place your hands about three to four feet in front of you. That’s your starting position.

Next, while keeping your hips back and core engaged, bear crawl (by walking your hands and feet) 20 feet forward, 20 feet laterally to the right, 20 feet backwards, and 20 feet to the left back to starting point.

To make it more challenging, add 10 push-ups after every 20 feet crawl.

Exercise Six: High Knees

Begin by standing straight with your feet hip width apart. Then, run in place, bringing both of your knees up to your chest as you can.

Make sure also to pump your arms as fast as you can, aiming to land on the balls of your feet. And please, keep your core engaged, back flat, and chest up the entire time.

Exercise Seven: Butt Kicks

Begin by standing tall with feet shoulder-width apart, arms bent at the sides.

Next, flex your right foot and kick your heel up towards your butt. Then repeat on the other side and continue alternating between each leg as fast as you can without losing form, and doing your best to kick your heels to your glutes each time.

To gain speed and momentum, make sure to swing your arms as quickly as you can while using your core to control your body and to keep good form.

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