Beach Running

31 07 2013

This week, my family went on a much-needed vacation together to the beach. It seems like it has been ages since we’ve taken a real vacation (not counting a ton of weekend “runcations”). The last time we went to the beach (not for a race) was when I was about 8 months pregnant with my son.

I’m sure I’ll blog about our trip soon enough, but I wanted to blog tonight about beach running. I was excited to break up the monotony of my treadmill with 3 outdoor runs: first, a local 5k on our way out of town to the beach, followed by 2 early morning runs along the shore.

On Sunday, my son woke us up long before sunrise, so I was ready with my camera on the beach with plenty of time to see it finally rise around 6:22 AM. So I expected that Monday would go the same way, and that I’d get in a run afterward, but my son didn’t wake up until 7. (Not counting nursing him at 4, first.) I didn’t get to run until around 8:10, and by then, the sun was already feeling brutal. Still, I was committed, but I didn’t feel like I was running as gracefully as the runners I’d watched the day before. Finding the right footing in the sand was tough – for the first mile, there was no packed sand – it seemed to change from foamy tide to thick, dry sand with no transition. I was wearing my running shoes, and my ankles became torn up from where my sandy treads kept hitting them. I returned to the hotel hot, bloody, and feeling so light-headed that my husband sat with me until he was sure I was okay before going for a run of his own (we took turns so one if us could always stay back with the baby).

Tuesday, I missed most of the sunrise again, so by today, I knew not to trust the baby to wake me and set an actual alarm on my phone to make it out to the beach to see it. But of course he woke up at 5 today, so I fed him, he fell back asleep, and we were out on the beach by about 5:50, sleepy baby in tow. I wore my running gear to save time, but I also took my camera. Around 6:40, my husband headed back to our room with my camera and the baby, and I made a goal to run out to the pier and back, the same run as before.

Running at 6:40 was much easier. The sand was just the right consistency, the air was a lot cooler, and the sun was still a twinkling golden and not yet blinding white. I wouldn’t say I was graceful; I soaked my shoes 3 minutes into the run and still came away with stinging, sandy ankles, but I carved 6 minutes off my Monday time and felt energized afterward instead of faint.

My husband runs in Vibrams and I got fitted for them again during this trip, but I didn’t want to commit to the price or the concept because I run with prescribed orthotics. I also didn’t try completely barefoot. What are your tips for beach running?

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