Summer is around the corner, so there’s never been a better time to take your workout outdoors. If you’re lucky enough to live near a beach, barefoot soft sand running provides the ultimate whole body routine, and here’s why….
Like ordinary running, soft sand runs provide an awesome cardiovascular workout. However, with each stride you take on soft sand, your feet sink a little, which requires more energy than usual. The extra effort and muscle engagement means that running on the beach burns about one and a half times more calories than running on the pavement.
Unlike pounding away on a treadmill or footpath, running on soft, uneven sand forces your smaller stabilizer muscles to work harder to keep you upright (particularly your legs and abs) providing the ideal resistance workout. This type of training is going to improve your usual running in super quick time.
Soft sand running is kind on your joints (particularly the knees, ankles and hips) as the sand absorbs most of the impact. However, be cautious of running on stretches of beach on too much of a slope as this can upset your alignment.
Getting outside, enjoying the scenery, soaking up vitamin D (which reduces stress and improves sleep, among other things) and breathing in fresh salty air is the best way to start your day. I find running on the beach almost meditative.
My favourite soft sand training is to do an interval session – 200m of slower paced soft sand running, turn around and head down to the water’s edge, and return to the start doing a faster paced sprint on the hard sand.
Like anything, if you’re new to ‘softies’ take it slow (and don’t expect to run as fast as you might usually!). Start by running on the hard sand closer to the water’s edge (keeping your shoes on) and concentrate on being light on your feet. From there, you can progress to barefoot soft sand running.