I look forward to beach running all year long. The nearest beach to where we live is at least three or four hours. So, it's a real treat to train at the ocean. The minute I smell the salty air, I slip off my sandals and don't wear shoes -- unless they're required -- until we head home. Not even for running.
Likely, if you're running at the beach, you're on vacation. You're sleeping in a different bed. Eating different foods. So, don't expect your runs to be the same as they usually are.
A few tips to help . . .
#:1 Run in the AM. The sun is not your friend. Neither are crowds. And you don't want to be that person slogging through all the mid-afternoon sunbathers. Also, if you're at the beach, it's probably warm. Stay cool. Run early.
#2: Go barefoot. It isn't essential, but for the full beach running experience, you'll want to bare your toes. I see plenty of people wearing shoes on the beach . . . and if your feet aren't used to minimal support, you may want to ease into it with a walk/run approach.
#3: Pay attention to the tides. The day we arrived, the tide was high. I tried my best to jog, but the sand was soft and people were in the way. (I didn't take my own advice. It was in the hot afternoon sun.) If you run at low tide, you have maximum real estate. The sand will be nice and compact.
#4: Don't worry about pace. Chances are, the wind will be wicked by the ocean. Either at your back or in your face. On this morning's run, I headed out -- the wind blowing hard against me -- at 8:50 pace for the first couple miles. On the way back, I was at 8:00 and then 7:30. Yup. Average for five miles was 8:28, which is around my usual, even pace.
(And when I'm on vacation, I usually take things easy anyway. I only wore a watch today to mark distance for future jogs.)
#5: Stay hydrated. There isn't any shade on the shore. The sun is hot. It's sort of a water, water, everywhere-and-not-a-drop-to-drink scenario. So, figure out where water fountains are (in our case, on the boardwalk) or bring your own.
#6: Find a landmark. Scope out something -- a particular hotel sign, for example -- at the beginning of your run so you know when you're back. And this tip is also helpful when figuring out distances. As I mentioned above, I used Stephen's watch today to map out miles. I took note of landmarks at each so I can go watch-free for the rest of our stay.
#7: Wear Deodorant.(This tip is from Stephen.) Not in your underarms -- well, there, too. But apply it to your bikini zone -- especially if you plan to run where the sand meet the surf -- to avoid the salt/sand chafing.
#8: Watch the weather. In the morning it isn't quite as much of an issue, but beach areas tend to attract isolated thunderstorms. Just random bad weather spells. If you're on the beach, you're vulnerable and have little options for taking cover if lightning strikes.
#9: Wear clothes you don't mind getting wet/salty. Obviously. But I like to swim for a while when I'm done running. And why not! The ocean's right there, calling to me. So, you may not want to wear your nicest gear.
#10: Have fun. We get fewer than 10 days of beach training in each year. If I'm having a bad day or don't feel like fitting in a workout, I at very least get out and walk. Vacations aren't necessarily the time to go nuts with your running routine, so being active is the key.