Run on the beach or run on the road?

We live in a stunning country with access to a myriad of beautiful beaches, trails and places to run.

This is particularly relevant for our Mount Maunganui clients many of whom live right on the beach. So, you enjoy running, it’s regular part of your training schedule (along with Pilates of course) but what about training on the beach and, more specifically, running on the beach? A lot of you run. Whether it’s for a lean body composition, for an upcoming distance competition or just because you enjoy it many of you have mentioned that running it’s part of your training ritual. A question we sometimes get asked is will running on the beach mess up your joints? Or, is it better than road running?

A study published in the January edition of the Journal of Sports Science sought to review and surmise several research papers conducting into the effects of sand running. Firstly, the researchers found that running on sand has a higher energy cost than on a firmer surface. Essentially, you will burn more calories completed the same distance/intensity run on sand than you would on a firmer surface. Good news if you are one of the people training for a leaner body composition.

Secondly, and this is particularly applicable to those training with an upcoming competition in my mind, running on sand was found to LIMIT muscle soreness and damage. Furthermore, a correlation was found between increased performance on a firm surface after training on sand. Running on sand will make you better at running on the road.

So, bio-mechanically and physiologically, running on sand is very different from road running but as highlighted above, can actually be better for you regardless of your training goals. Try dropping a road run each week and replacing it with a beach run.

Binnie MJ, et al. Sand training: a review of current research and practical applications.
J Sports Sci. 2014 Jan;32(1):8-15.