Beach Running 101: 7 Tips For Running On Sand

Here are some beach-running pointers for vacationers and coastal runners.

It doesn’t take science to figure out that running on sand is more challenging than running on pavement. Just ask anyone who’s ever been on sand.

But science can tell us just how much more challenging it truly is.

In 1998, three researchers in Belgium published “Mechanics and energetics of human locomotion on sand,” and their conclusions on beach-related exercise was intriguing: running on the sand takes 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface, mainly because:

— The mechanical work required to get through the sand.

— The inefficiency of the work done by tendons and muscles due to the sand’s unpredictable surface.

Of course, the researchers in Belgium did this testing in soft, dry sand. Thanks to the ocean and its dynamic tides, soft sand is often not the only option for beach running.

If you live near the beach, or you’re heading out for a vacation this summer, you may be interested in taking your love of running to the shoreline. Many runners in coastal areas do this to get a change-of-pace workout in one of the most serene places on the planet.

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“I kind of put it in the same category as hill running. It’s resistance work,” says Brian Clarke, a running coach and author in Honolulu. “I think it’s also going to help people develop more resilience, especially in the calf and Achilles.”

With a little preparation and a little bit of an idea of what’s in store, beach running can be an enjoyable workout. Before you head to the sand, here are some pointers to get you ready.

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