Run If By Land 

When you like two things separately, it only makes sense you’ll love them doubly together.

You know what I mean: Like peanut butter and chocolate? You’ll love Reese’s cups. Like animals and football? You’ll love the Puppy Bowl. Like Muppets and Apple products? You’ll love FaceTiming with your niece in Hawaii, even if she doesn’t feel the same way.

Given that so many good things are made great through the act of sheer combination — wine & cheese, pizza & beer, Chris Pine & shirtless scenes — it’s amazing that it took me so long to try what was such an obvious and inevitable combination: running and the beach.

I’ve liked the beach as long as I can remember — from riding the waves to walking the coastline to soaking in the sun for more hours than my Irish-heritage skin should have allowed. And I’ve liked running for years and years, as you should have gleaned from this blog unless you’re terrible at context clues.

So why then did it take me 30 years to put those two things together and go for my first run ON the beach? Maybe because I was afraid of getting sand in my shoes, or because I tend to sleep in on vacation, or because I was nervous that running in sand would feel like being in that awful slow-motion dream where you can’t pick up any speed despite your enemy nipping at your heels. Whatever the reason, I’d never been for a beach run, and this past weekend in Long Island I vowed to change that.

And, wow, I loved it, but wow, it wasn’t easy. Running in sand takes about 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface, according to competitor.com, and believe me, my glutes and core could tell. I had less bounce than on the roads and had to work different stabilizing muscles to keep propelling forward. Unlike on a normal run where I could just tune out and go, I had to keep hyper aware to avoid stepping in holes or getting my feet wet when a wave came up further than usual.

Still, the pros outweighed the cons. By running on the beach instead of the asphalt on a hot summer morning, I was able to take advantage of the cool breeze and go longer without overheating, a major plus for summer training. And whenever I wanted to stop and splash water on my face, there wasn’t any shortage of ocean to choose from. Add on top of that a gorgeous backdrop, accidental resistance training and more dog sightings than I’d ever imagined, and the experience was a net positive one.

I’m not near a beach in the city, so I doubt this will become part of my normal routine, but I think it will inspire me to seek out other surfaces besides pavement for a few of my runs each month. Whether that’s the bridal path in Central Park (I miss you, my friend!) or some other yet-to-be-discovered-by-me alternative in Queens, something tells me you’ll be seeing me offroading a bit more going forward. Especially if that offroading leads to friends and a vineyard, another winning combination.

Do you run on the beach? Any tips for a burgeoning Hasselhoff?

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