“I want to run the beach’s length, because it never ends”.
The quote above makes me laugh because it could not have been written by someone who runs. The beach is a wonderful place to get in some training but there are challenges and rewards to running on the beach.
I am always looking for a training edge to allow me to run at a faster pace. My goal to set a personal record (PR) for every half marathon I run stays true—that is the goal every time out.
I ran the Virginia Beach Rock N Roll half marathon in early September to get back into the swing of being a running tourist and to test my training against other runners. I am happy to toe the start line again but want to see improvement each time I finish a race. Decided to find a new training method to help me get better daily and work towards improving my half marathon times.
I was able to increase my endurance by running the rolling hills in Tallahassee when I lived there. Did not realize how much hill training helped my ability to run faster until I relocated to Fort Pierce which is completely flat. Running on flat surfaces is better than nothing but it is hard to replicate the intensity needed to get up and over rolling hills.
A majority of my Fort Pierce runs are done close to the beach on Ocean Drive. I enjoy the views on this route and feel safe since I do not have to cross traffic. I am parallel to the beach when running and make pit stops to catch views and listen to the waves. Example: I run 2.5 miles on Ocean drive and then sit on the beach for a bit before running back 2.5 miles. Some of my best Instagram pictures come from the middle part of my run. 😊
This process and route have worked well for me but wanted to find a new way to train since I do not have hills to climb.
Decided to leverage the beach and start running directly in the sand. This is not a novel approach but one I have not maximized since I moved here. I have run on Jacksonville Beach, but it has a flat surface without awkward inclines. Most beaches in Florida have an incline which puts pressure on one side of the body. The Fort Pierce beaches have this incline closer to the water but provides a flatter surface further away from the water. I used this part of the beach to build my mental and physical endurance.
My goal for the beach runs is to slowly increase my distance each time out as I establish a new training threshold. Running in the sand creates unstable footing and makes the body adjust to continue to move forward. This process brings in muscles that are not used with traditional running and strengthens them. The sand on the beach moves with each step and forces the body to adjust. Going fast is not the object of the training sessions—building endurance and mental focus are the top outcomes of running on the beach.
My initial foray on the beach allowed me to finish a 2.5-mile run. I extend my beach runs an additional .5 miles each time I go out with an end goal of 5 miles completely in the sand.
The benefits of this training approach will pay off when I tackle the Savannah Rock N Roll half marathon in November. I plan to run faster in Savannah with an end goal of setting another PR at the Orlando OUC Half Marathon in December. The flat surface should be conducive to running fast. Who’s going to join me in Orlando?! 😊
What new techniques have you incorporated into your training program?
“When I run on the beach, it is always in slow motion. That’s how I roll”.