Running Course

How To Run On the Beach

You’re on vacation at the beach. Or maybe you’re lucky enough to live nearby (I’m not jealous, you’re jealous!). There’s a stretch of sand calling your name. So you lace up, roll down to the water, and discover that OMG running on sand is super hard.

“People have this notion that running on the beach is a great idea—until they do it,” says Nike Running Global Head Coach Chris Bennett. “And it can be great, but there are a few realities you should think about first.” Maximize beach time and enjoy the run with these tips.

  • Go for shorter runs on soft sand
  • Switch directions when on a slope
  • Enjoy the headspace
  • Keep long runs to the boardwalk
  • Protect yourself
  • Wear shoes
  • Check the tide before heading out

Beach-running basics

Go for shorter runs on soft sand

Go for shorter runs on soft sand

Soft sand, further away from the water’s edge, is harder to run on because your feet sink into it. “You’re going to be working harder at a way slower pace,” says Coach. For longer runs, move closer to the water where the sand is firmer.

Switch directions when on a slope

Switch directions when on a slope

“Because most beaches are sloped, you don’t want to be running in just one direction,” says Coach. “You’re putting more stress the leg that’s closer to the water.” Try short spurts back and forth on the beach to balance the strain.

Enjoy the headspace

Enjoy the headspace

There are no turns, no uphills, no downhills. Just a wide stretch of horizon in front of you. “Running on the beach can be an unbelievably mentally relaxing experience,” says Coach. “It’s a great time to process your thoughts.”

Keep long runs to the boardwalk

Keep long runs to the boardwalk

Absolutely have to get in five miles? Head to a boardwalk or the road next to the beach—you get many of the benefits of a beach run without having to adjust to sand. “It might be more pounding, but it’s also less work for those longer runs,” says Coach.

Whenever you run on a new surface—especially sand—you want to ease into your run. Decide how it feels, and then pick it up or slow down.

Chris Bennett
Nike Running Global Head Coach

Getting beach-ready

Protect yourself
Think hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen. “Running in strong sun will zap you of energy,” says Coach. It’s also a good idea to map out where the bathrooms are, where there’s access to fresh water, and if there are lifeguards on duty. “Above all else, you want to be safe.”

Wear shoes
If you normally run barefoot, then go for it. Otherwise, Coach recommends shoes. “If your feet aren’t used to the work of running barefoot, and it’s going to feel uncomfortable very quickly,” he says.

Check the tide before heading out
It might seem like a small detail, but the tide can make or break a run. “You won’t have access to the harder sand if the tide is in,” says Coach.

Get an extra push with a guided run

The Nike Run Club’s guided runs take you alongside Nike coaches, athletes, and special guests who encourage you every step of the way.

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