Beach Running, Tips and a Helpful Video

Running is actually far more complicated than one would initially think. Especially if you, like me, hardly did any running for a huge period of your life after childhood and if you don’t participate in sports. Having a break from running and then getting back into it in your adult years – well simply mastering the correct technique for the most efficient movement and speed, and the least wear and tear on the joints can take some practice no wonder there are specialists you can go to just to analyse your running style.

I only started getting into running last year, and at first it was so hard to run outside for even three minutes straight. I used NHS’s free Couch to 5k running podcast program to help me go from 3 min to 20 minutes running straight in a relatively short time and I highly recommend downloading the podcasts if you are new or just getting back into running. http://www.nhs.uk/LiveWell/c25k/Pages/couch-to-5k.aspx

Running it appeals to me for the convenience, no equipment necessary, just put on a good sports bra if you’re a girl, and some supportive sports shoes and out the door you go. It can bring a sense of freedom and a feeling of naturalness few other exercises can replicate.

Beach running is truly one step (if not more) about running on the street. The numerous benefits include:

–        The gorgeous landscape and feeling of freedom being near the ocean

–        Much less impact on the joints thanks to the absorption effects of the sand

–        Not having to worry about being run over by cars

–        Strengthens the foot muscles and works into the calves more

–        Running without shoes is slightly different from running with shoes and many people would argue is more natural and healthy

If you are new to beach running, take it slowly. Even if you go for runs regularly on the treadmill or the pavements, running with shoes trains you to run in a certain style, and running bear feet will always be a new challenge and work slightly different muscles, so don’t rush into it. I recommend no more than 1-2 times per week for the first month at least. Don’t confuse cardiovascular fitness with readiness for going harder faster – especially when it comes to running we have to remember that our cardiovascular fitness can often develop faster than our tendons, ligaments and muscles can adjust. I should know because I made the mistake of ignoring this advice and paid for it when my knees began hurting and took days to recover 😦 (I backed right off, slowed down, and now am fine. Don’t push through that kind of pain.)

The first time I went for a run on the beach was using a walking/running interval program (the podcasts) for 20 minutes. My Achilles tendon and knees ached a lot the next day and I suspect I was running slightly different from how I do on the pavement and with less support from shoes my feet move differently as well. When you run barefoot and on the sand you have to put more of an emphasis on landing on the ball of your foot, and on floating over the tops of the sand rather than sinking in.

My knees hurt the second week as well, though I recovered quickly (I know just the thing I am trying to avoid by sand running!) But I found this video on youtube and since practising it haven’t had any more pain. It has a  series of easy exercises to strengthen your feet and associated leg muscles important for running without shoes and I think that really helped! I recommend when you are getting into this kind of running to give this video a go:

I am really enjoying my weekly beach runs now and would go more often if I could. They are a real treat and give a feeling of connecting with nature, releasing all the stress and tension of the week, forgetting everything and just getting lost in the feeling of the ocean, the sand, the sunset and your feet connected to the ground as they were meant to be – with nothing in between!

Doesn’t that photo just make you want to find the nearest beach and go running along it now? I think I have become a bit addicted to the feeling because I look forward to it all week, and even feel feelings of sadness when i look at those photos and am trapped inside and away from the beach.

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Fartlek!

I love using the treadmill to improve my running skills when its too hot or rainy outside, and an easy warm up/cool down before other exercise. But when working on cardiovascular training I do find it painful to force myself to stay on that treadmill and not get off out of boredom. The movement of walking, jogging and running comes so naturally that its easy to lose focus and instead focus on how tiring/painful it is! At least when you are running out doors there is more to look at.

I often run intervals on the treadmill to work on developing speed and being able to endure going faster for longer, but I tend to wear myself out too fast to keep going for a full 20-30 min.

I tried out a Fartlek system today and found that having a set pattern to follow really helped me. I stayed on the treadmill for 35 min (including a short warm up and cool down).

Farlek I have been told means “speed play” and really is just about randomly adding intervals of faster speeds. I followed this pattern I got from a magazine:

2 – 3 – 4 – 3 – 2 

After a warm up run for two minutes, jog/walk for two minutes, run for three minutes, jog/walk for three minutes, run for four minutes, jog/walk for four minutes and then back down followed by a cool down.

It’s very effective, boy do those 4 minutes run go on forever, but luckily the four minute jog/walk is pleanty to recover for the second round.

 

 

 Haha I know this picture definitely applies to some people!  Although the majority of the time I’m at the gym the people next to me are just walking on the treadmill not running so there’s isn’t any point in even pretending its a race. :p

I have nothing against people speed walking on the treadmill, especially if using the incline. But please don’t waste your gym session holding on to the handles that’s cheating!

Ultra Fitness Challenge

How fit are you? Here’s another test I am going to have to try out and will be blogging my results soon! For now I’m putting it here for safekeeping!

This one is taken from Ultra Fitness Magazine Feb/March 2013.

Why do it?

According to Jenny Stamos Kovacs  “A body that can meet all five challenges with ease could someday have the strength and power to save your life – or at least, help you out of a tight situation.” That is certainly motivation for me.

1. THE CHIN UP CHALLENGE 

  WHY? 

A chin up is considered one of the most valuable measure of upper-body strength and muscular endurance. (A pull up is with the palms facing away from you instead of towards you and is considered by many to be even more difficult). You will find that so many people, men in particular obsess over their ability to push weight and focus on how much they can bench press etc, but they can’t match this ability on the chin-up bar (or with push-ups either sometimes .

HOW

Hands shoulder width apart, palms facing you. Bring yourself up until your chin clears the bar and make sure at the end of each rep that your elbows are fully extended. If you stay in this end position for more than three seconds without moving your body upwards you must end the test. Excessive swinging of the hips will also disqualify you.

SCORE

Out of shape: no reps

Average: Three to six reps

Fit: seven to 10 reps

Ultrafit: More than 10 reps

2. Push-Ups 

WHY

Excellent test for muscle endurance and a very functional exercise that mimics moves in everyday life.

SCORE

Out of shape: less than 20 reps

Average: 20 to 34 reps

Fit: 35 to 49 reps

Ultrafit: more than 49 reps

3. The Vertical Jump 

WHY

The vertical jump is a true test of short-term explosive power, showing how much power you have packed into the muscles of your lower body. Of particular interest this test can also be used to determine if your training is progressing or if you should be resting your muscles for longer in-between workouts. It is recommended that before a workout you measure your vertical-=jump test status and if it id down by fiver percent from your best jump, take some extra time to recover.

HOW

Stand against a wall on a flat surface. Reach up as high as you can marking this point with some chalk (“Standing reach”). Dip down quickly until your thighs are roughly parallel to the ground (don’t pause in this position or it cuts down the power) and then explode up as high as you can, marking your highest point. You get three chances. Measure the space between your standing reach and your highest mark.

SCORE

Out of shape: less than 400mm

Average: 400mm to 500mm

Fit: 501 mm to 700mm

Ultrafit: more than 700mm

4. Single-Leg Squat

WHY

Apart from measuring lower body strength this exercise measures balance and control as well as testing if both legs are equally strong.

HOW

Male sure you go down so your butt is in line with the bench. (Weights not needed).

SCORE

Out of Shape: Less than two reps

Average: Two to five reps

Fit: Six to 10 reps

Ultrafit: More than 10 reps

5. The one-mile challenge 

Brendan Brazier Vegan Athlete

WHY

This challenge measures your endurance and your body’s ability   to generate energy using oxygen. Aerobic endurance can be seen as the foundation for all other aspects of fitness.

HOW

Go to a track/path you know to be one mile (1.6 km) set your timer and take off.

SCORE

Out of shape: 10 minutes

Average: less than eight minutes

Fit: Less than seven minutes

Ultrafit: Less than six minutes

Go on and give it a go for yourself! and don’t be afraid to let me know how you did?