If you don’t live by the sea, the change of scenery will help recharge your batteries. The sea air, the distant horizon, the rhythm of the waves, the sounds and smells, will all offer a pleasurable respite from your routine.
Running on sand is pretty hard! The same distance will take longer, and feel more strenuous. It will challenge a whole host of stabilizing muscles that usually get a free ride.
The loose, uneven surface will force your joints-especially your ankles-to work overtime. The little muscles that stabilize your ankles, along with the neural pathways that control them, will get faster. This will improve you balance in all settings.
Meanwhile, your feet and knees and hips will enjoy reduced pounding. Sand is soft, making you landings gentler. If you’ve been suffering at all from the unforgiving tarmac, the sand will offer a welcome break.
If you get hot, take a dip in the sea. Even if you just wade in up to your ankles, you’ll find your whole body cooling in a hurry. All those veins close to the surface, unimpeded by insulating fat, make your feet and ankles extremely efficient heat radiators.
Are there coastal trails, boardwalks, or hills nearby? Leave the sand and use the terrain to mix things up. Run the hills and trails, use the ups and downs for improvised fartlek workouts, and use the paved sections for speed work.
Like any change in your routine, the beach will tax your body in new ways. Give yourself time to adapt. Start slowly, and see how you feel the next day before adding more time or intensity.
Wet sand is firmer than dry sand, and so will offer a more gradual transition from running on tarmac. For your first few beach runs, spend as much time as possible on the wet. You’ll find it less demanding on your muscles and ankles than dry sand.
You may be tempted to run barefoot in the sand. It’s a wonderful sensation, and can help strengthen the feet, but it exposes you to hazards. Please watch for sharp debris. Broken glass, broken shells, sharp rocks, or washed-up medical waste can all ruin your day.
Sunburn, premature aging, and skin cancer are serious threats, and beaches have a bit of a reputation for sunshine. It’s not just the lack of shade-both the water and the sand reflect UV rays, so on a sunny day you’ll be bombarded from every direction. Consider a hat and good sunglasses. And sun screen. If you’ll be out a long time, bring extra sun screen with you. Even the most waterproof varieties only last around 90 minutes when you’re sweating hard.
Also beware of dehydration, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke, especially on sunnier and warmer days. If you feel at all unwell, take a break, take a drink, and maybe even take a dip!