Beach Running

Ah, Summer! If you are like so many people I know, you are headed to the beach at least once this Summer. For some of you, a weeklong vacation at the shore is in store for you in August. What an awesome way to enjoy this heat wave! But guess what else you can do on the beach where the breeze is cool and the water is refreshing? Run!

What’s that you say? You’re intimidated by beach running? Don’t be. It’s an awesome pseudo-cross training exercise for your legs and a great alternative to hot pavement runs. I’ll fill you in on the tips that will help you get through those sandy runs feeling great.

First, hydrate and apply sunscreen liberally. There’s no shade at the beach and the same goes for water fountains. Bring your own hydration and make sure there are electrolytes in it. Ditto goes for shades or a hat. That beautiful ocean/lake/bay is a reflective body of water and you can burn your eyeballs if you’re not careful. Plus, you’ll look a lot more bad-ass if you are wearing shades running down the beach.

Wear your regular running clothes, not a swimsuit. Swimsuits are NOT designed to wick moisture, nor are they very supportive little garments. If you’re dying for a post-run swim, do it in your running clothes! THEY can double as sweet swim gear. Some of my favorite lululemon gear could definitely pass for cute beachwear.

For an easier run: wear your sneakers and run close to the water at low tide where the sand has been packed down by the waves. This will make for a harder surface on which to run and it’ll be much more comfortable for your feet. This also means that you will need to check the tide schedule at your beach. No biggie. Ask the lifeguards for information.

For a tougher run: run barefoot on the softer sand or near the water at high tide. This will be much more challenging, but that may be what you’re looking for, who knows? Since every single inch of your little feet will be coming into contact with the sand, there is one thing you should know: the skin under the knuckle-like portion of your toes is delicate and does not normally experience any friction. This is a prime spot for blisters. Apply Body Glide liberally to avoid said blisters. Trust me. They hurt.

Because beach running is so very different from road running, plan on going out and back for the same amount of time you would devote to a regular run that day. That way, you’re putting the time into your workout and not obsessing about the distance. Remember to enjoy yourself! If you’re dying out there, turn around and walk home. Jump in the water to cool off. Try again tomorrow.

Now you’re ready to run! Have fun! And maybe leave the iPod at home and run to the sounds of the ocean.

Now go out and run!

Runner’s Secret #23: Body Glide®

Let’s be clear about one thing from the beginning: every runner chafes a little bit sometimes. When tight fabric rubs on wet skin, there is the opportunity (if not inevitability) for chafe to happen. It’s not pretty, it’s not comfortable, it’s not sexy. But it’s a Very. Real. Problem.

Reasons for chafe or blisters:

-your clothing is rubbing against your skin

-your skin is rubbing against your skin

-your shoe is rubbing against some part of your foot

Chafing doesn’t just have to do with being a heavier runner or a slower runner, it has to do with the fact that our skin is moist and there is friction happening against that wet skin. It’s as simple as that but not always something we can fix just by sizing up in shorts or buying a moisture-wicking sports bra. I have had chafe since I started running at age 10. Mostly it was because I wore cotton (the only option at the time) or soccer shorts when I ran cross-country, but it’s also because I wear a sports bra and it has to, by definition, be fitted enough to reduce movement. Hence the chafe. I also do not look like Paula Radcliffe.

Paula is tiny and floats on the air. She probably does not chafe. (photo courtesy of http://www.paularadcliffe.com)

But chafing does not only happen for women, heavier runners, slower runners or in the summer months, it is a HUGE problem for male distance runners. Nipple chafe. Ouch. You guys get it bad because it sort of sneaks up on you. Any male marathoners out there know what I’m talking about and many of you spectators have probably seen the men with the blood-stained t-shirts at races. It’s not pretty.

Ouch. (photo courtesy of Kelly Johnson at Oregonlive.com)

So, how to you deal with chafe? The old wisdom was Vaseline. They still hand it out at around mile 20 during many marathons (it’s kind of weird, they scoop it on a stick and hold the sticks out for runners to grab as they go by…kinda like water stations). Problem with Vaseline is that it’s messy and, in my experience, it doesn’t last the amount of time I need it to. Enter my salvation: BODY GLIDE ®
I discovered this little gem at a marathon expo in 2006 and it has never let me down.

My BFF for every single long run

Recommended useage:

Prevent chafe: under the sports bra, between the arm and the armpit, between the thighs, wherever you have tags, around the waistband, and on those ever-so-sensitive nipples for you men

Prevent blisters: between your toes, around your Achilles Tendon, on the outside of your feet, at your sock line, when you’re wearing a new pair of shoes (non-running shoes, too!) that aren’t quite broken in yet…

Use it everywhere and anywhere you find your skin is irritated from friction. You may find that Body Glide® allows you to run a little faster or for a little longer. Less friction and less pain = faster leg turnover and more focus on your running. It could very well be the Runner’s Secret that takes you to the next level in your training. Or, at least, it will make it less painful.

What are you waiting for? Grab the Body Glide® and go out and run!

*Per usual, I was not compensated in any way for this post. I simply ♥ my Body Glide®*