How to Safely Run on Sand Without Getting Hurt

Running on the beach can not only be a peaceful, beautiful running experience, but it can also help make you a stronger runner. Running on sand, especially dry sand, is tougher than running on pavement, so you'll definitely work harder on the beach. But being able to jump in the water after you're finished will make it worth your effort. Here are some tips for running on the beach:

Start on Wet Sand

Mixed race woman running on beach
Blend Images - Erik Isakson/Brand X Pictures/Getty Images

If you're new to beach running, start out on wet, firm sand — it's much easier to run on than the soft, dry sand. Low tide is a great time to try running on the beach. You can slowly add 2 or 3-minute intervals on the softer sand, with longer recoveries on the wet sand. As you get used to the dry sand, you can start running on it for longer stretches.

Stick to Flat Ground

Avoid running along a beach that's sloped because it can lead to injuries. It's also much easier to fall and injure your knees and ankles if you're running on a banked surface.

Don't Expect to Run Your Usual Pace

Again, running on the beach is harder than running on the pavement or on a treadmill, so you'll need to slow down. Don't overdo it.

Stay Hydrated

To prevent dehydration and other heat-related illnesses, make sure you hydrate properly and have plenty of water available. If there aren't any water fountains, you'll need to carry water or at least some cash to buy bottled water.

Ease into Barefoot Running

Barefoot running is a good way to build up strength in your feet. But because we're used to wearing shoes all the time, our feet are not nearly as strong as they could be. If you start running barefoot on the beach too fast or too frequently, you could injure yourself.

Running without supportive shoes on sand can lead to or worsen plantar fasciitis, ankle sprains, or Achilles injuries.

If you really want to run barefoot on the sand, start out with short runs — just 15 minutes or so — to build up some strength in your feet. And, of course, be on the lookout for broken glass and seashells.

Protect Your Skin

Running on the beach usually means that you're in direct sunlight, so make sure you protect your skin with a sunscreen of at least SPF 15. Try to avoid running between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m., when the sun's intensity is at its greatest.

Have a Pair of Beach Running Shoes

There aren't specific shoes made for beach running, but you're better off dedicating a pair of your running shoes for beach runs. That way, you don't have to bother trying to get all the sand out of your shoes after your runs. They may also get wet, so you don't want to have to wait for them to dry out before you can run again.

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