Workout Locations: the Beach

When it comes to outdoor training, the beach is ideal.

Pyramid from 'Remembering Muscle Beach' by Harold Zinkin
Pyramid from 'Remembering Muscle Beach' by Harold Zinkin.
This month's article series with Run to Win's Blaine Moore looks at workout locations. Whether you're training in a commercial gym, your parents' basement, a garage or the local park; there are a few things to keep in mind - as well as some benefits associated with each location. This article looks at a training location more than a few people have employed over the years - for sports, yoga, weight lifting, running and general fitness - the beach.
Hardness of the surface

Much of what you will choose to - and be able to - do at the beach will depend upon the hardness of the surface. Throwing a medicine ball about is something which can be done almost anywhere; running generally requires a long, flat, stable surface (think about the beach scene in Chariots of Fire).

Generally speaking, the firmer sand is nearer the water's edge. Naturally, there are a number of exceptions to this; it really is a case of going down there and walking around in bare feet to get a feel for the surface.

If you're in any doubt about bare-footed workouts (on the beach, anyway), take a listen to Martin Rooney's April '06 interview [.mp3, 5.7mb] on EliteFTS. In this, Rooney discusses the advantages and disadvantages of bare foot training. Whether you wear shoes or not really depends on what you're going to be doing.

Opening scene from 'Chariots of Fire'
Opening scene from 'Chariots of Fire'.

If you've ever been to St Andrews' West Sands (location for the abovementioned beach scene in Chariots of Fire), you'll appreciate that whilst the beach itself may be ideal for training; the number of visitors may suggest otherwise. Privacy is not the issue - instead it's simply one of not having to move out of the way every five minutes.

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Suitable types of workouts

Obviously some types of training are more suited to the beach environment than others, and this will depend partially on the layout of the beach and your preparedness to carry a few things. To get you started, here are a few ideas.

Percy Cerutty hill sprint training on sand
Percy Cerutty hill sprint training on sand.

Hill sprints on dunes. Without getting into the intricacies of hill sprinting itself, let me just assure you that running at any speed up a sandy surface is a challenge. Running coach Percy Cerutty (pictured at left) used this training technique with great success on legendary runners John Landy and Herb Elliott. Hill sprints on sand are also enjoyed regularly by several major Rugby League teams.

Kettlebells at the beach
Kettlebells at the beach.
Kettlebell training. Whilst kettlebells can be swung almost anywhere, the exercises which involve letting it go (either intentionally or accidentally) lend themselves well to the beach. As well as the snatch/C+J/press training, try out a spot of kettlebell juggling or putting. They're effective exercises, and fun.

Bluewater Tug-of-War Club
Bluewater Tug-of-War Club.
Team sports and activites. Beach volleyball is perhaps the first thing that comes to mind, but think also of activities such as a Tug-of-War or short sprint races along the harder sand. Bring a couple of empty hessian sacks and make quick sandbags - passing them around is always interesting.

Medicine ball training at the beach
Medicine ball training at the beach.
Medicine ball workout. As mentioned earlier, a great way to train at the beach is with a medicine ball or two. Think conditioning rather than strength, and try all those exercises that'd usually have you thrown out of a commercial gym. Hurl the medicine balls around and have some fun.

Yoga at the beach
Yoga at the beach.
Yoga. If you're looking for something a little different to your regular weight lifting, try a bit of yoga at the beach. A great way to start the day.

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