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Workout I Did: A Long, Beachy Run

Just a reminder that this is our new feature called Workout I Did. Read them all and feel the workout love here!


I’ve probably mentioned a time or two (oh, look—here and here!) that I don’t see vacations as an excuse to be a lazy glutton. When I actually have loads of time and a flexible schedule, that’s all the more reason to get in a really great workout that I might not have time (or energy) for on a regular day at home. 

A couple of weeks ago, my husband Jared and I took a quick trip to the beach, which was amazing, but required a bit of planning since it was the last weekend I could get a long bike ride in before my race (which is, ummm, this weekend. OMG.), but I knew I could run as long as I wanted along the beach.

So, I rode after work on Friday, hit a theme park on Saturday, and instead of just planning to run for, like, a long time on Sunday, I broke it up as follows.

Sandy Sunday Morning Run

Mile 1: Warm up—nothing hard, nothing tricky.

Mile 2: I spent this mile focusing on form. I have a tendency to allow my arms to cross my body when they swing (which is actually a fairly common problem, especially for women), and this wastes a lot of energy, so I made sure to keep my arms and hands by my sides and swinging in a clean arc. I also made a point to keep my neck and shoulders relaxed, getting good, deep breaths, and even rolling my shoulders back and down when I felt myself tensing up.

Mile 3: This was all about keeping a high cadence. My actual speed didn’t matter so long as I kept my cadence (the rate at which I go from one foot to the next) high. I don’t actually keep a count (although you can totally calculate yours, if you like), but I know how it feels when it’s in the right range, and I know how it feels when it slows down. My trick for keeping mine high is to think of kicking my feet up and back behind me—it speeds the cadence up without my having to think about any actual numbers.

Miles 2-4: Repeat miles 2-3, but instead of running entirely on the hard-packed wet sand, I mixed it up with a few minutes here and there in the softer and more uneven sand.

Miles 5-6: I took these miles nice and easy, running for four to five minutes and then taking a walk break. At one point, I took a nice long walk break to allow my calves to stretch out a bit (and, if I’m being honest, to look at all the gorgeous beach houses and pretend I was shopping for my next home).

Mile 7: Strong finish! I picked the pace up and held it until the end. I always like to see what I have left on my legs at the end of a longer run, especially when I run on sand or trails, because those different surfaces really tax different muscles than a road run. I was pleased to see that I had enough gas left in the tank to finish at a comfortably challenging 10-minute-per-mile pace.

Cool down: I popped over to the sidewalk and walked a leisurely half mile down the road to grab a latte and a muffin (Which I could eat! Sort of! If I break it into small enough pieces and don’t really have to chew it!), then strolled back to the hotel to get ready for a day of rest and relaxation. 

How do you break up long runs? Do you just set a time or distance and finish it, or do you shift focus or goals on each mile? —Kristen

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  1. Sara says:

    I have to admit that I do get a little lazy when I go on vacations and I don’t work out as much as I should. It takes a strong will to go for a run while on vacation. But I guess the running on the beach beats the treadmill any day!

  2. I agree! I cannot enjoy my vacation if I feel fat and lazy. Being active is fun! I like how you mixed it up by going on a beach run.

  3. Tyler says:

    Hey Kristin great post! I just moved into a little beach town in California and have a perfect beach to run on. Lately I’ve been running on the treadmill in the gym, but I’m getting sooooooooo bored of it. I like your tips on focusing on different aspects of your running for each mile. I’m not quite up to 7 miles yet, but hopefully I will be soon! I need to focus on my form more than anything :/ keep up the good writing!

  4. David says:

    Looking out my window now – it’s raining as usual here in London! I would so love to be near a beautiful beach where I could go for a run and feel the sand between my toes… I hope your race goes well – I’m sure you have prepared well.

  5. Sally says:

    Running is so much more enjoyable in a setting like a beach. Still struggling through a miserable winter here in the UK, so running outside has been no fun, so much envy of your climate! I am looking forward to some summer sunshine abroad, when I will definitely be doing swimming as well and working on my fitness.

  6. john g says:

    Your pic looks great! I wish it was nice enough outside here to go running, but considering it just snowed again….its not too likely for another week or so. thanks for the motivation though..:)

  7. Jessica says:

    I think a run on the beach beats the gym any day. I’m going to Mexico in the summer so I might have a nice early morning run before breakfast 🙂

  8. Angie says:

    Running along the beach is by far the best place to exercise. I break it up in relation to sand dunes. I jog to one, then sprint to the next, and repeat this as many times as I can.

  9. Oooh, I’m jealous of the beach weather! Me and a couple friends just started training for a half-marathon. First day of training? The coldest first day of spring in Minnesota in 4 decades. A balmy 8 degrees for our 10 a.m. run. But I digress.
    We ran our first unofficial/accidental 5k yesterday (“You feel like stopping? Good! Me neither!”). Now we’re going to have to start thinking about how we’re going to break up those longer distances. Commence reading up on how other people do it!

  10. Ryan says:

    Running on the beach is awesome for your lower body stabilizer muscles and relatively easy on your joints to boot! I basically incorporate intervals into my runs and simply alternate between a 7-minute mile pace and 12-minute mile pace for each consecutive mile. Sometimes I also do Fartlek training where I’ll do a 12-minute mile pace and sprint the last 50 – 100 years, then repeat for 4-5 miles total.

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