Try soft sand running
To avoid injury while running on soft sand, take some tips from an expert.
Soft sand facts
- Don't do too much too soon. Running too often on soft sand, and in one direction,can cause hip, knee and ankle injuries.
- Soft-sand running suits anyone with average fitness, although it's not suitable if you're injured or overweight, as the sand doesn't provide enough support.
- Since you'll be lifting your knees higher on the soft sand, you'll be working your legs more than if you were running on grass or asphalt.
- Soft-sand running is great for your core muscles (your abs, buttocks and back), because your body has to work to stay stable as the sand moves underneath you.
- One session per week is enough: 80 percent hard sand work and 20 per cent soft is a good combination. Or just start with gentle walking.
How to run on soft sand
- Your body weight causes you to sink into the sand, so for efficient soft sand running, try to stay light on your feet.
- As your foot hits the sand, don't go in too deep with your toes; this will make it harder work.
- Only use 75 per cent of your foot. Rather than letting all of your sole make contact, your heel shouldn't touch the sand.
- Don't run barefoot on hard, wet sand. It's worse for your body than running on concrete, and you could end up straining the muscles and tendons in your feet. For more information, contact your local surf lifesaving club or look into Ironman and Ironwoman competitions in your area.
Soft sand running reviewI've always been a road runner and city jogger. As a student, it was a cheap form of exercise I could do anywhere and, after catching therunning bug, I ran my first five-kilometre race in my early 20s. Since then I've run Sydney's City to Surf twice and pounded around the local park more times than my thighs care to remember.
Now that I no longer live cheek by jowl in the city, and have recently moved to the beachside suburb of Manly, I have decided it's time to dust off my joggers and use the two-kilometre-long stretch of sand as my running track instead. Come to think of it, I'm actually looking forward to leaving my shoes behind and running barefoot, as I've seen the other locals do.
Before grinding the grains, I consult soft sand expert Barry Golding, founder of Manly Running Academy and six-time winner in his class of the 21-kilometre Manly Soft Sand Classic, for some advice.He immediately puts me straight on the subject of shoes. As I haven't been running for a while, he says it's not advis able to go full pelt on soft sand because it's a completely different motion to asphalt or grass. And, if I run on hard sand, shoes are essential if I don't want to end up injured.
Damn. I start to feel that hazy, Bo Derek-style barefoot jog slipping from my grasp. It was going to be all about feeling the sand between my toes- not wearing hot, sweaty shoes.I take consolation from the fact that I'll be getting a great workout, as soft-sand running is twice the intensity of road running. While regular jogging burns between 3000 and 3800 kilojoules per hour for a 70-kilogram person, it's double that on soft sand.
It's a brilliant summer's morning when I slip into my (hot) shoes and head down to the beach. I spy a couple of soft-sand runners chatting as they gracefully slip and slide (barefoot) on the shifting surface, but, as I'm doing a cross-training session on a mixture of hard and soft sand so as not to strain my calves, I head down closer to the waves.
I warm up with 10 minutes of walking near the water's edge, then slowly increase the pace to a jog. As the sea ebbs and flows, it proves a great surface to run on - spongy and with some "give" to protect my muscles and joints. And I've got my shoes on, so I'm fully protected. As I weave between the surfers heading into the foam, I regret not coming earlier (10am is almost late afternoon in runners' language), although watching a helicopter buzz overhead definitely makes it more fun than any other running spot I've been to before.
After a while, I start to move from hard to soft sand, zig-zagging between the two. It's definitely hard work; my feet just can't seem to get a proper grip on the sand, and I have a new respect for the soft-sand fanatics. After 20 minutes, I'm puffed. I do another 20 minutes of soft-sand walking before wading knee-deep through the water - with the water providing resistance, it's a great way to help my muscles cool down. And I'm barefoot at last.
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