A complete guide to the things they never tell you about beach running, but that you’ll soon discover. As a seasoned beginner, I feel compelled to enthuse thusly:
1. Running barefoot: as much as you want the support and stability of your favourite cross-trainers, beach runs are barefoot runs. The sea makes your shoes smell. Mostly of dead seaweed and Athlete’s Fish. A little bit of sand between the toes never killed anyone and on the plus side – no blisters! So, basically, winning at life.
2. Sunrise and tide times: as romantic as sunrise or sunset runs sound, do your research and run at low tide, whenever that is. Less beach camber and a harder surface to run on, see? Thank me later. Also – arriving before sunrise means it is inevitably cold and your paranoid mind will populate the bushes and dunes with all manner of scurrilous miscreants and creatures intent on eating your beating heart out of your chest. Not the ideal cardio workout you wanted.
3. Ocean ambush: you’ll run along the water’s edge because the sand is more compact and easier to navigate here. But pay attention! Incoming waves (especially of the Atlantic Ocean kind) are colder than that woman from Game of Thrones and if you’re a screamer like me, will elicit squeals that will remove what little dignity you have left. Side note: there is no dignity in running. It is not a pretty or graceful hobby, but you shouldn’t lose sleep over the fact you look and sound like the Elephant Man as you lumber wheezingly into the waves by mistake.
4. Chafe vs. beach sand chafe: runners’ thighs chafe. If your thighs have chafed because you forgot to lather them up in Glide or Bertram’s Baby Bum Cream, then beware the added joy of beach sand chafe which is a dreadful thing to have happen to any part of your body, but most ‘specially to the bits close to your Unmentionables.
5. Leopards, blue bottles and Surprise Labradors: you will encounter a whole range of critters on your beach run. Just this morning I trampled a blue bottle hiding out in the tide line. We’ll call him Eric. Eric’s ignominious death caused much pain and whining and a vague memory that the cure involved having someone pee on the wound. I stopped whining and pretended it never happened. Once I was also running merrily along with music blaring in my ears and setting the pace, when a Surprise Labrador bounded up at me from behind, thinking my Herculean efforts were a game of tag. I squealed much like I do when cold waves surprise me in the same way that dog did. There are also Cape Leopards in this part of the world, and possibly on the very beach I run, as evidenced by the dry white critter poop I found on the trail back to the car one morning. Dr. Kelly Marnewick, famed animal scatologist, confirmed as much. Could also have been poop from the Surprise Labrador, she says, but I like my life a little more dramatic, so we’ll opt for leopards until proven otherwise.
6. Runners’ High: you don’t have it because it’s further than you can run and takes more energy to achieve than you can give while running on the beach. That ’90s rave laser show in your head as you’re beach running is just a mess of endorphins hitting you harder than Thai White at the after party.
7. App-solute distraction: you will lose focus on your running while you try interpret all the data streaming in from your heart rate monitor. Ignore it. It’s almost impossible to run and stare at your phone without falling over and looking like a pratt.
8. The Surreptitious Dune of Death: when your run is over and you’ve managed to catch your breath and regain some composure, you’ll suddenly discover that the car park is at the top of a steep dune that somehow wasn’t there when you started your beach run. At this point you will also discover that your calves have already had all the workout they’re prepared to allow, thank you very much, and you’ll hobble back to your car like your granny hobbles to the loo.
9. The Strava Rule – Reality Bytes: if you didn’t record it on Strava, it never happened.
10. Beach sand and bed sheets: always shower after your beach run. Always! Even when you’ve gone out at a ridiculously early and god-forsaken hour of the morning and just feel like falling back into bed when you get home, take that shower – because once beach sand gets into your bed sheets, it’s there for life. Even if you change sheets, burn the bed and move to another country. It Will Follow You!
11. Fifty Shades of DOMS: after my first run I had painful legs. And a sore bum. And aching sides. “Ah! DOMS!” said Samantha Perry to me. “Can’t be. I haven’t been to a warehouse BDSM party in a while.” I replied. There followed an awkward silence until Sam explained DOMS is an acronym for Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness, a result of exercise – and not Doms-as-in-a-Dominatrix-flogging-your-ass. Still, the thought of a leather-n-PVC-clad woman chasing me down the beach with a flogger in each hand is not a bad idea, but I don’t think it will catch on. For now, keep those hobbies separate.
No doubt you’ll make your own discoveries as you start beach running. Just get out there, get active, and enjoy it!
© Dave Luis 2017. All Rights Reserved.