It seems my next few posts are going to be about injury prevention when running. One of the best ways to avoid injury is by reducing the Rate of Force Impact, or Ground Reaction Forces.
If you followed my Workout Wednesday post from this past week you would have seen that I did some 50-60 meter sprints on the beach. While it certainly has not been beach weather here in the Northeast to start off April, I am still lucky I live within running distance to the beach. I chose the beach sprints for a few reasons.
1) The shorter sprints use your fast-twitch muscle fibers which are not used in endurance running, but are used in sprinting.
2) The shorter sprints help you to avoid over- striding and as with running hills, can help to straighten out running form.
3) There is a carryover to doing High Intensity Intervals like sprinting which are anaerobic, to your aerobic system, and sprinting has also been shown to improve 5k time.
4) The physical demand of sprinting on the soft sand makes the sprints more demanding and thus provides a higher energy output.
5) This goes along with #4, the sand sprinting also produces less impact shocks without having to make you run at full speed which can lead to tissue failure and a higher risk of injury.
6) Sand sprinting also helps the muscles not have to fully stretch, which is another mechanism for injury.
As you can see there are many benefits to moving your running on softer ground. If you do not have a beach available you could always try switching to another soft surface like trails, or grass.
On a final note, it does take some work to run on sand. Like anything else you should build up the difficulty by running closer to the water’s edge where the sand is harder and packed down. Then progress to the softer sand.