There’s no reason why you should pass up the sand this vacation and hit up the treadmill instead. And skipping your miles simply isn’t an option. “Don’t sideline yourself for your whole vacation,” says Honerkamp. Here’s why you should hit the sand…
It’s great for intensity training.
Ryan Adames is a lifeguard in Santa Cruz, Calif., and a physical therapist’s aide. He runs on the beach multiple times each week. He’ll do some easy running and core work too, but he likes to do short sand sprints for high-intensity interval training (HIIT). The simple act of running through the sand “ups the intensity a lot more,” he says, and lends itself to working on explosiveness.
Brian Clarke, a runner and coach in Hawaii, compares sand running to hill running, where the purpose is often to build power. “Think of it as the deeper the sand, the steeper the hill,” he says. Soft or deep sand means there’s more resistance, which means you’ll need more power to get through it.
It’s good for your foot muscles.
There are reasons most runners also cross-train: to build up their non-running muscles and prevent injury. Running on the beach isn’t exactly cross-training, but it sort of counts. “You’re using your body differently, which is good,” says Honerkamp. Your core has to stabilize itself on the soft, uneven surface. And more importantly, your feet and lower legs have to stabilize themselves.
“It’s doing work,” says Adames of your foot. “It’s trying to make sense of the soft ground beneath you.” There’s some bene- fi t to your body learning and practicing that—as long as you don’t overdo it (which we’ll get into soon).
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It beats no running.
When Honerkamp coached thousands of runners through the New York Road Runners program, he’d regularly have participants tell him they were going on vacation or to a resort and wouldn’t be able to run. That’s not going to cut it with this coach.
“I’d rather you run 20 minutes on the beach than no minutes,” he’d say, though he advises not to do your long run on the beach and to build up slowly. Like any new form of running or training, easing into it is best. Maybe you just do strides or 10 minutes on the beach. It still adds something to your training.
Because it is fun!
“It’s hard to have a bad day running on the beach,” says Dr. Amadeus Mason, a professor of orthopedics at Emory and a team doctor for USA Track & Field. Part of the reason you run is to experience new things and enjoy yourself.
Just don’t enjoy yourself so much you end up getting injured and being miserable the rest of your vacation. It’s better to underdo it than overdo it and cause a c alf or foot strain. This is especially true if you’re not even used to running on trails regularly or if you’re prone to injuries.