If you’re lucky enough to live close enough to a beach there are some benefits of running on the beach you might not be aware of.
I’m sure you know it’s a little harder than running on a flat surface. It’s clearly a lot more fun and has better views, but there are some other benefits to help you improve your fitness, and more importantly running times if you’re in training.
Benefits of Running on the Beach or Sand
You’ll Burn More Calories
If burning calories or losing weight is your main objective then you’ll be happy to hear that pounding the sand burns more calories than road or trail running.
The Journal of Applied Physiology and Occupational Physiology have a complicated formula to prove this (source). You will notice the extra energy burn the first time you run on sand though.
It’s believed to force you to burn an additional 40-80 calories per mile. Largely due to the sand forcing you to work harder to find traction.
You’ll Develop Better Balance
Much the same as running on trails that present varying terrains and obstacles to navigate, and forces you to work on your balance.
You will work out a much wider range of muscles than you would just running on flat roads. Your core, shoulders, back, smaller muscles groups in your legs, you’ll feel a burn like never before.
You’ll Strengthen Your Running Muscles
Being loose, the sand causes your feet, ankles, and legs to work harder to generate the same force as you would running on a flat surface.
Mixing in sand runs helps increase your overall strength and when you go back to the road you’ll see time improvements.
It’s not a substitute for hard strength and conditioning days, but the diversity of the workout on your muscles will give you that added edge you’re looking for.
You’ll Put Your Joints Under Less Stress
One of the main benefits of trail running is the fact that you can run across different terrains and put less stress on your joints, sand is no different,
Pounding the tarmac day in, day out, puts a lot of shock impact through your ankles, knees, and hips. If you’re not already seeing the signs from your body, start before it’s too late.
You’ll Have Some Awesome Views to Enjoy
Admit it, the first thing you think of when running on the beach are the views and the sounds of water lapping on the shore, birds overhead, and the gentle sea breeze.
It’s pretty awesome if you’re lucky enough to live near a beach and worth getting up early and taking a run if you’re on vacation.
Should You Run Barefoot on the Beach?
A lot of people run barefoot on sand. You may have noticed the trend towards a more minimalist shoe, or even barefoot running over recent years and there are some advantages.
When you run in running shoes you will notice your heel tends to hit the floor first. While if you run barefoot you will land on the balls of your feet first.
This means there is less impact with barefoot running. It’s something runners have become a lot more aware of over recent years as less impact means fewer injuries and wear and tear on your joints.
Running barefoot on sand is the best way to get started with barefoot running. The sand offers more support than the hard floor. Just check it’s not too hot and that there aren’t any pebbles of other objects that will hurt.
Benefits of running on the beach or anywhere you can find sand include, reduced impact, improving balance, strengthening your running muscles, burning more calories, and some awesome views to enjoy.
Don’t be surprised if you find it really tough the first time you run on the beach. You’ll feel a burn in muscle groups you hadn’t noticed before too, it’s all positive signs that you just had a great workout.