Monday, June 20, 2011

Running's a Beach

A couple of months ago, I subscribed to Runner’s World magazine because they were offering a 2-year subscription for $24.  I figured at a dollar an issue, how could I go wrong?  I have enjoyed it so far; it has good tips for beginner runners and workouts that I may or may not add to my routine in the future.  I also enjoy reading their recipes (obviously)…

There’s one column called “Ask Miles” that I only read because it's good for a laugh.  I’ve never seen this man’s credentials (I'm wondering if he even exists) other than “he’s been around the block a few times."  It's always good to ask questions about running because the more you learn, the more you'll improve.  However, Miles answers questions like, “what’s the proper etiquette for running on a gym treadmill barefoot?”  Answer: ew. Don’t.  Another question was a woman who asked Miles what she should say to her running buddy who always asks her to hold her energy gels.  Answer: say no.  The questions that he chooses to answer are ones that could be answered by a 12-year-old.  So in the most recent Runner’s World, there is a question to Miles that says, “When I run on the beach, should I wear shoes or not? I don’t want to look silly,” to which he replies, “Beach runners look silly to me, shod or not.  But if you must: go bare.  Unless you enjoy shaking sand out of your shoes for all eternity.” 

What an ass.

A few summers ago, I was up at our family’s beach house in Maine.  I had brought my running shoes and running clothes yet I just could not motivate myself to go out for a run.  I’d sleep until 9 or 10 every morning, go downstairs and make breakfast, and be greeted by my uncle who just came back from his run on the beach.  He would rave how beautiful it was and he was always so excited and happy about his runs.  My cousin and her fiancĂ©e would go for runs on the beach too and then come back to the house and do ab workouts together.  After seeing that for about 3 or 4 days, I decided to put on my shoes and head towards the beach. 

After walking over the soft sand, I found a stretch of sand by the water that wasn’t wet but was firm enough to support me.  I started off for my run.  I love the smell of the ocean, and the breeze coming off of the water was so refreshing.  I had brought my iPod but I decided to turn it off, just using it as a timer, so I could listen to the seagulls, the kids playing, and the sound of the wind rushing through the grass on the sand dunes.  I ran for 40 minutes, the longest I had ever run in my life, and it felt amazing.  I went for one more run on the beach before we went home. 

So now that we are spending the week in Hilton Head, South Carolina, I knew I had to get in some beach runs.  The sand provides a nice break from asphalt – it’s firm enough to support your weight yet it gives a little so your knees do not feel the impact as much.  You could run barefoot too, I’ve done it twice before for ultimate tournaments, but it’ll take a huge toll on your calves since your feet don’t have the support they are used to, especially if you've never run barefoot before (bad advice Miles).  So this morning I laced up my sneakers and jogged down to the beach. 

It was about 10:00AM when I got down there.  There was a cool breeze coming off of the water, but it wasn't enough to block out the 85 degree weather.  As I jogged along the water, I spotted beached jellyfish and horseshoe crabs and I even saw tracks from a female sea turtle who had come up to the dunes to lay her eggs.  Even though the beach was crowded it was quiet, since it was mostly families relaxing together.  I saw a guy catch a little sting ray, and on my way back I watched him throw it back into the water.  It was a really beautiful and relaxing run, even though it was incredibly hot.  Towards the end the sun was burning my face and the wind was no longer cooling me down, so I cut my run to 30 minutes and headed back in.  

I would recommend to anyone who is going to the beach this summer to take a run on the sand.  You're not going to look silly because chances are you are going to be one of dozens of people running, walking, and biking.  If you do wear your shoes, you won't get a ton of sand in them and as a matter of fact I didn't get any in mine this morning (take that Miles).  If you go barefoot, don't plan on running as far as you normally do, your ankles, feet, and calves are really going to feel it.  Make sure you lather on the sunscreen no matter what time of day you go, but I would definitely recommend going in the morning because it's cooler (duh) and it tends to be not as windy.  Oh and don't wear your bathing suit when you go for your run, you're not on Baywatch.  

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