Getting hot & sweaty in the sand (Part1)

Posted on August 26, 2012

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When running recently with Lee aka the Sheikh of Showka from Dubai Trail Running, I recall telling him that I attribute any success I’ve had running with two key elements … training in the sand and training in the heat.  I try to do most of my running ‘off-road’, albeit within the confines of the city, to reduce the impact on my body and as for the heat?  My insistence on waking up ‘au naturel’ i.e. sans alarm clock means I rarely get my trainers on before 0730, often later.

And as it so happens, two independent articles in last weeks New York Times tackled both these elements and their benefits to runners. So today, the salient points re sand running and next post, those re running in the heat.

As for the title of this post? Sorry if it promised content of a more exciting nature … we’ve all in our time had moments of getting hot and sweaty in the sand and certainly not through running … but that sort of behaviour is best avoided in the UAE so the less said about that the better!

So without further ado, sand running:

  • is akin to running with weights on your ankles … it’s harder to plant your feet into the ground and harder to get them off the ground
  • requires 1.6 times more energy than running on a hard surface because your body has to work that much harder to respond to ‘external modifications’
  • demands greater mechanical work from our muscles … our feet work harder to displace sand and the muscles can’t work as efficiently
  • makes our foot strike and motion less efficient because sand is soft and constantly shifting. We rely on our ankles and calf muscles more to keep our feet steady and attempt to gain solid footing
  • is a brilliant alternative for those who don’t have hills to train on
  • is also beneficial for speed training or interval work because the sand creates more drag on your feet so when you run in an environment without that drag, your legs won’t fatigue as easily and you can move even more quickly
  • requires a far greater mental focus to watch where you’re planting your feet … this is great training for longer distance races

If you’re used to just pounding the pavement, ease yourself in gently.  Pick packed sand and alternate with harder surfaces or shorten your distance. All in all, running on sand is a great resource for runners to mix up their training and get an edge over the competition! We’re spoilt with more than we could possibly wish for living in the desert so we should take advantage whilst here …

Till the next post then when we get hot and sweaty but meantime, I for one shall be hitting the sands off Al Khail later with KPH.  See you there perhaps?

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