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7 tips for running in the sand

If you happen to be taking a vacation by a beach you can try your hand at sand joggling. This is simply running while juggling on the sand. I suppose it could’ve been juggling sand but I find it so hard to catch those tiny crystals.

sand runAccording to most running gurus, running in the sand is a great alternative to pavement or concrete surfaces. It forces you to run slower but with a higher heart rate, makes your back and arms work harder to keep your balance and it reduces your chance for injury.

Anyway, I recently did a seven plus mile joggle on the sand and have come up with the following tips to keep in mind if you’re going to try sand joggling.

1. Run where the sand is hard. In soft sand you sink. In hard, packed sand you make mere indentations. For a joggler, hard sand is the way to go. You still get the benefits of sand running (easier on the joints, higher heart rate, etc.) while avoiding some of the negatives of soft sand (messed up running form, sand in your shoes). I found that the area just where the water meets the shore provides the best sand running surface. It’s also interesting that the sand along the Atlantic Ocean is better for running than the sand around Lake Michigan. Must have something to do with the tides.

2. Run in both directions. If you are going to run where the water meets the sand, your probably running on a sloped surface. This can be tough on your legs and knees so make sure you balance things out by running equally in both directions. Ideally, you’d be running on a completely flat surface but this isn’t always possible. Minimize your chance for injury by following this tip.

3. Don’t run too long. Since you are likely running on an uneven surface, avoid doing really long runs on the sand. I’ve done as much as 10 miles but that is really my limit. My joints are sore the next day and it really interefers with my training.

4. Your feet will get wet and sandy (and so will your bean bags). When you’re joggling by the water, your shoes will inevitably get water on them. So you might not want to use that brand new pair of Brooks Adrenalines. Pull out one of your old pair of running shoes and use them instead. The water and sand you get in them won’t matter so much. There’s nothing worse than feeling grains of sand squishing around your socks during a race. And if you drop your juggling bean bags, wipe them off as best you can but it’ll take at least 10 minutes more of joggling to completely get rid of the sand. Nobody said sand joggling was easy.

5. Run in shoes. While your shoes will get wet and sandy, they will also protect you from the tiny grains of sand that are just waiting to strip the flesh off your delicate soles. You can use an old pair because the padding doesn’t matter much. You just need something to protect you from blisters, bits of shell and other sharp pieces you might encounter.

6. Wear sunblock. Running at the beach means you will get almost no shade at all. Therefore a sunblock is crucial. Put on an SPF 30 at least 10 minutes before you go out. This will prevent you from sweating it off. You might even consider bringing some on your run and reapplying every half hour. These things don’t last forever you know. Check out this earlier post for other tips related to training in the heat.

7. Don’t forget to drink. When you are surrounded by water you might have a tendancy to forget to drink. But with the extra sun exposure and likely higher temperatures you’ll need that water to prevent dehydration. Looking at, smelling, and sensing water is not the same as drinking it.

Sand joggling is fun and will certainly prompt some cheers from bored beach goers. It will also provide a great workout for your legs, heart and lungs. You should try it as often as you can because it will make you a better runner and a better joggler.

Check out this ehow entry for more tips on running in the sand.

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