I make it a point to eat right and exercise regularly to stay in shape and because I’d like to live to be 100 or so. I know very well that I won’t live that long, but I would do well to take care of this vessel as best as I can. Anyone who knows me knows that I love to jog and I practice marital arts. Well, I recently took up a practice that I really enjoy and it’s fantastic for both of these two passions.
In 2011, I moved to Southern Florida to be warm and to be in a location where I could get in more diving and sailing. We live about a mile and a half from the beach and purchased an annual permit to the local park which allows us sun-up to sun-down daily parking and access. We’ve always made it a habit to walk on the beach, but one day I realized I should be running on the beach too. Why not? It’s got to be great for your legs. I suspected it would be a bit of a resistance workout as well, but there has been a benefit I had not considered but am certainly glad comes along with it. The extra benefit comes in the form of a significant workout on what is known as the extensor digitorum longus muscle. This is the muscle on the outside of the lower leg that controls your feet and your toes. I’ll explain more in a bit.
I decided to do my running down by the waters edge, not up in the dry sand. I needed a workout but not that much. However, if you’re up for it, I would suspect the increased resistance is like running up hill in the wind with shoes two sizes too big, or something close to that. I’m after a sustained cardio workout with some changes in altitude or speed or resistance, but nothing drastic. I get that from my other workouts. I also chose to run in bare feet. It really seems funny to me to see folks down on the beautiful beach running in shoes, but hey, to each their own.
When you’re running in the sand, you find a smooth bit of solid sand along the water’s edge that is either getting wider as the tide goes out or getting narrower as the tide comes in. It also provides a slope to one side depending on what time of month it is as the sandy beach is cut away more or less depending on the moon phase. Also, you come across the occasional seemingly solid spot but find it’s more quicksand than solid sand. I won’t say it’s a trap or really dangerous because it slows you down so quickly, you don’t fall off balance, you just get bogged down. It’s actually kind of funny when you hit one the first few times. And you can’t recognize them ahead of time. Then there is the fun of maintaining your track as you move along without the tide splashing up on you now and then. Again, it’s more funny than anything. It just creates a bit of resistance.
I’ve fallen in love with running on the beach because it is such a great low to moderate level of resistance jog. If I maintain my speed, I force myself to push through the resistance to keep pace. If I chose to maintain heart rate, I end up speeding up between slow downs for a bit of interval-type jogging. But getting back to the lower leg muscle I mentioned earlier, the first time (and every time) I run on the beach, I get a serious workout on that specific muscle. Beach running, even on the easy soft flat sand by the water’s edge, is an amazing lateral leg muscle workout. I feel it the next day and man, do I feel it when I’m at Taekwondo the next night.
The greatest part is that a muscle workout like this is helping my balance in Taekwondo. This muscle in the lower leg is what we rely on when we do slow motion kicks and hold them. I’m not saying I’m a transformed man or that my form is super now, far from it. But I do feel like I’ve got a secret training regimen that’s certainly going to get me to the next level. And did I mention that I get to run on the beach where it’s sunny and warm? Yea!
Hey I know this is a new type of content, but I wanted to share with anyone who lives near the beach and likes to jog, because you may not know just what you’re missing out on. In scenery and in workout.
Final note: I am not a personal trainer, but I am very active and agile, so this is easy for me to do without repercussions. You should be sure you’re physically fit enough to run on the beach before trying it. There are potential negatives that you should diligently research before you run off to the beach.