i’ve been doing a lot of beach bumming… but i’ve been doing a lot of beach running as well!
a few years ago, when i kept up with this blog and wrote a lot about nutrition / yoga / exercise, i wrote an entry about trail running. trail running is still one of my favorite environments for running. i’ve never encountered a spider while trail running, but if i had i probably wouldn’t like it as much. but aside from bugs/wildlife, i don’t see any negatives to trail running. there are several obstacles to trail running. first of all, there are actual obstacles, like narrow running spaces, hills/divots, tree branches, rocks, etc to trip over, etc. there’s also the very real possibility of getting lost if you are not paying attention. and finally, there’s the fact that you need to buy special trail running shoes. and those are definitely necessary so that you don’t twist an ankle on any tree branches or sharp, unexpected turns.
trail running – to me – is the ultimate form of relaxation because you are alone in the woods with your thoughts. there is no one to bother you and nothing to see except nature. when running in the woods, you often wonder if you want to go back to “that place” with cars, jobs, cell phones, and money. can’t you just stay here and run around some more?
live grateful dead jams are the best soundtrack to running here in the morning
but i have to tell you… beach running is a very close second to trail running! it is supremely awesome and almost just as peaceful. while running, i get to enjoy the scenery of the beach, and if it’s early enough, there isn’t a soul in sight. maybe some early morning swimmers. later in the day… there are a ton of people and it is annoying.
while i really enjoy the scenery of the forest and trees, i’ve come to really really love the clear water of the gulf of mexico. although it’s always the same – sand and water and sky – who can get tired of looking at the relaxing waves, bright blue sky, and water that seems to sparkle in the sun?? the water is always different. i know that sounds dumb, but it’s true. sometimes it’s light and sparkly; sometimes its rough, thick, and with big waves. sometimes it’s clear blue… and sometimes it’s a green color. it depends on the way the sun is shining!
this morning, Patrick and i went to the beach during low tide. i ran and he swam. waves gently crashed into the sand, barely making a sound. after running, we walked down to paradise grille to get some breakfast, and on our way back we walked out on a sandbar that was about 8-12 feet from the shore. the waves barely brushed our ankles even though we were so far away and there was deep water between us and the shore. it was actually really cool, because in the middle it was like there were two sets of waves crashing into each other from opposite directions.
after a run and some breakfast, patrick and i walked on this sandbar off the shore
when trail running in the forest there is constant shade. i used to love that because i felt protected. nowadays, i actually love being out in the open. i’m sure to wear my coconut-smelling hawaiian tropic SPF 50 sunscreen though… that sun beating down on you can really take a toll on your skin.
regarding safety, there are still issues that must be considered when beach running. for instance, there is a pitch to the shore and you have to be careful about the angle your feet are landing on. it’s actually not advised to run close to the waves but a little further up along the packed part so your feet have a more “solid” and even landing ground. if it’s high tide, you may not have a chance to find that hard packed sand and have to run on loose sand. this is bad for the ankles.
the other safety issue is sun exposure. like mentioned, wear your high SPF, broad-spectrum sunscreen. i also bought a cool nike hat to wear. i am very worried about skin cancer on my head. patrick says i look like a dork but i don’t care.
aside from the awesome scenery and tranquility, beach running is also beneficial for runners. i’ve been reading a lot about it, and many running experts claim that beach running is a good workout to help with speed. training on the sand helps runners to run faster when they run races on the street. beach running also helsp build up some different foot and leg muscles than those used on hard surfaces or level ground. this is because the foot has to move and adjust in order to balance itself on the uneven and constantly changing sand beneath ones feet. pretty interesting, eh?
i guess the bottom line – whether you enjoy trail running or beach running – is to enjoy whatever landscape you have and make the most out of running outside. pass-a-grille beach has become my new favorite place since we moved here, and now beach running has become my new favorite hobby/exercise. but next time i’m back home in the midwest i will have to take advantage of some trail running!