Barefoot Beach Run – My advice on how you can make a “workout” seem effortless
We all have to “put work in” to see results. Some days it’s easy. Others, it feels routine and boring; we need to mix it up to make it less repetitive. My advice is, whenever possible, find a location that you personally connect with, and let it drive your workout. If you love the place enough, you glide through the workout, forgetting the effort you are exerting; you just simply love your surroundings. Instead of feeling like an impossible chore, you are introducing carefree aspects to the work, which makes it easier.
Find a place or a time of day that makes you feel content and loving your surroundings, and you will find how much lighter your feet feel that day. The struggle many of us have against exercise is that we view it as a miserable task instead of an energy-giving, mind-clearing, endorphin-releasing gift. I have found that once I stopped hating every single second of working out and started to embrace it as my “me time”, as my time to think, as my time to relax, it made me hate it less – and eventually look forward to it. My opinion is to intertwine as many external factors with your training as possible. This will inspire you to stick to the daily habit and will motivate you to reach that goal of weight loss, a personal record or simply completing that first race.
My “Happy Place”
The ocean is my favorite place on planet Earth. Standing in it, near it, inhaling the salty air, hearing the waves crash – every aspect of the beach and the ocean is beautiful to me. I could live in a tent on the beach for a few days and feel completely content. Given my need to spend as much time as possible on sandy shores, I started to run on the beach a few years ago. Combining the draining necessary evil of exercise with a place that puts me into bliss-mode made the utter chore of running seem less intense. (As a happy side-effect, I have started to enjoy running more now than I did in the past.) This tradition is now a yearly adventure I consistently look forward to when I head “down the shore”. (It’s a Jersey term)
Last week, I had the joy of spending time in Sea Isle City, New Jersey. A quaint shore town along the South Jersey coast, Sea Isle features a long, sprawling beach, squawking Sea Gulls and laughing families chasing after each other in the sand. Think more wholesome and family-friendly than the trashy Jersey Shore portrayed on MTV. For my taste, it is simply heavenly along the South Jersey coastal line and an ideal place to zen out and run, to lose yourself, to forget you are in fact “working” out.
Running with Sneakers on the Sand
After hauling my beach equipment back to my hotel and changing into running gear, I embarked on my first beach run. I winded my way through town but couldn’t resist the magnetic pull of the ocean and I pounded down the wet sand for several miles as the sun hang low in the sky. In general, I am not a barefoot runner and I wanted to explore town on foot as well, so the Asics approach worked best for my first run. The beauty of the beach carried me for a few miles. I always feel like I’m flying when I run on the beach. The wind whips harder than inland and it feels like I might get swept up in it. I feel more mindful as I turn off my iPod and simply listen to waves crash and swirl and crash again. It is one of the few times that I can fully attune my running experience, but with practice I hope to bring what I learned on the sand to the concrete grid I live within.
Although I do not run barefoot anywhere else, I enjoy running barefoot on the beach. I have a love affair with every sensory experience the sand, surf and salt have to offer and running barefoot; I feel each grain of sand crush between my toes. It is completely freeing. Kicking up water in my wake is a child-like sensation. It splashes carelessly behind me as I fall to earth like an elephant smacking the sand. I let the waves roll beneath me and can’t help but feel unified with nature. This is the most peaceful, most relaxing way to exercise. It doesn’t even feel like work; it is simply loving all the coast has to offer and absorbing it all.
Barefoot beach runs feel effortless to me. It my personal way I have managed to turn the chore of working out into a fun experience. Once the run itself is over, my favorite way to cool down is to dive into the waves and float carelessly along. For those addicted to the adrenaline rush the waves have to offer, a cross-training swim is simple to add. For me, treading water and swimming laps parallel to the coast feels more like a more calming experience than a traditional “workout” so it hardly seems fair to count this as “work” either.
Relaxing, rejuvenating – It isn’t summer until I get my barefoot beach run in. What is your “happy” place to run? What is your story of a place that inspires you to “go the extra mile”? Happy training! 🙂
More on Barefoot Running
I cannot even begin to claim I am an expert in the area of barefoot running, but if you would like more information on this topic, here are a few resources:
TheNewYorkTimes interviewed Christopher McDougal – Born to Run Author – on YouTube