Soft sand, crashing waves and salty sea air - if you don't live in the far north of Germany, you're most likely to enjoy a beach run on vacation. Running on the beach is a welcome change from the everyday jog in the familiar surroundings. What most people consider a pure vacation pleasure today has a long tradition in running: as early as the late 1950s, Australia's legendary trainer Percy Cerutty had his top athletes complete sweat-inducing sand and dune runs. Among them was the gifted middle-distance runner Herb Elliot, who won Olympic gold in the 1500m in 1960. Thus, beach running as a form of training came into vogue worldwide in the early 1960s. Nowadays, the annual beach vacation or weekend trip to the beach can be a great way to achieve training goals or at least bring a breath of fresh air into running training.
"What is purely a vacation pleasure for most today has a long tradition in running."
But be careful: running on a sandy beach is a challenge for the entire musculoskeletal system that should not be underestimated. Foot strike on soft sand absorbs significantly more energy and the push off the ground is less effective than on firm ground, so the leg and foot muscles are much more challenged. The training effect is therefore many times higher for the same training duration. In addition, running on sand, especially barefoot running, is a good balance and coordination training and promotes a natural and efficient running style, since you automatically touch down with your forefoot on the uneven and yielding sandy ground. But running on the beach also has its pitfalls: the softer the surface, the greater the strain on ligaments, tendons and joints - overuse complaints are a common consequence of long sand runs.
Our tips & basic rules
During the hot summer months, choose a convenient time of day for your beach run. In the early morning and late evening hours it is pleasantly cool and not too sunny. It is also advisable to leave a small bottle of water on the beach, as the salty sea air dehydrates the body more quickly.
A beach run is the perfect opportunity to give your feet a little more freedom. Barefoot running is the most natural and healthy form of running and is a treat for your feet. Barefoot running in sand activates the foot muscles, strengthens the arch and stabilizes the ankle joints. However, runners with very high body weight or with Achilles tendon complaints should better keep their running shoes on. In addition, one should not underestimate the risk of injury from sharp-edged stones, shells or shards. If you still don't want to miss out on the barefoot feeling, you can also opt for natural running shoes. In general, a light running shoe with a more strongly profiled sole that fits snugly on the foot is recommended for running on the beach, so that no sand gets into the shoe and chafes uncomfortably while running.
"Alternatively, those who don't want to give up the barefoot feeling can opt for natural running shoes."
Those who have no experience with beach running should take it slow and start with short sessions of 10 to 15 minutes. Instead of long base runs, shorter, intense sprints and effective interval and change-of-direction runs are great for improving fitness. To make good progress, you should avoid energy-sapping running in soft, loose sand and instead stay as close to the water line as possible, where the sand is wet and firm. While doing this, it's a good idea to change direction more often, especially if the beach slopes sharply toward the water, so that both sides of your body are evenly loaded. And finally, don't forget to stretch: Especially the calf and back thigh muscles should be stretched extensively after the unaccustomed strain to avoid tension and shortening.
Running in the sand is the perfect complement to your normal workout, and even a few sessions are so effective that the next run on solid ground will feel much more dynamic and faster. A beach run is worth it just for the beautiful panorama and becomes an unforgettable experience if you enjoy it with all your senses. We wish you a lot of fun!