Running on sand (and other terrain)

Is there any benefits to running on sand, or any other terrain? I’ve read for injury prevention when running it can be beneficial to run on some softer surfaces than concrete pavement.

I’ve been including some beach/trail in my runs, because it’s more enjoyable mainly, but would be interested to see if there’s any benefits or negatives to doing so.

I tend to run along the wettest sand so it’s a bit more packed. There’s a very slight camber, but I always try and do out and back to account for that so each leg has had the camber.

What are your experiences running on other terrain?

I think for triathlon training there will be little benefit. If youre worried about impact then grass is probably a better bet.

Running on sand or pebbles is bloody hard work, and pebbles has an increased injury risk

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Running on snow is absolutely my favourite surface. Sand is bloody hard work.

Avoid injury by building distance gradually. Running on trails, even hard trails, is much lower impact than tarmac

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sand can be a very beneficial surface for strengthening the running chain of muscles (and especially the feet)…but start with caution and build up slowly…

there is some strong evidence inspired observation that feet may strike the ground harder on softer surfaces (including cushioned shoes)…one of the many nuances of running form…


I think the trails may be where I opt for my morning runs my next few times out, the beach certainly has been hard work but the sun rises at the same time I go for my run which makes it worth it (live on the east coast).

EJC, do ever read/watch the stuff from Shane Benzie? Interested in your opinion. He seems to go into the art of movement pretty deep.

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Shane is an interesting chap…i should spend more time listening but i barely have time to think these days…

What he states is ‘the art of movement’ really means that we don’t yet have the science to support the observations…

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I have been suffering some ankle issues recently and have noticed that running on grass hasn’t actually helped at all. Back on tarmac felt better somehow. Although I’ve now got a swollen knee again so it’s swings and roundabout.

Funny you should say that @explorerJC, while running on snow yesterday, I was thinking that I was striking the ground much harder than normal… I assumed it was a natural action to gain traction on a softer surface

I can’t see why anyone would choose to run on sand. Even if it’s easier on your joints, it’ll be bad enough to put you off running

:joy: I was going to say something similar. I’ve lived by the sea all my life and I hate running on sand!

Any trails for me are much kinder on my legs, even in summer. When I’m doing proper high volume stuff I run circles round a local football pitch or park to get my easy recovery mileage in.

Isn’t the point that just because tarmac feels better doesn’t mean it’s helping. Grass is making your ankle work harder and is therefore beneficial, that’s why it hurts. Physio said the brain forgets the injury once it stops hurting. Making the injured ankle work hard, will remind the brain it’s damaged and continue the healing process.
I also did a mix of balance exercises when I had an ankle sprain. Did seem to help.

it’s natural in as much as it is not supernatural or unnatural, and it is part for traction and part for balance…

it could be that the more stable platform of the tarmac is changing the duty factor (stance) and allowing more movement at the knee…it could also be that your brain is less confident in the platform you are creating on grass and is controlling your movement…

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Any thoughts on shoe choice running on sand? Racing this weekend in a sprint tri and the run is on the beach.

I’m thinking the high stack height of vaporfly might be more unstable, coupled with the loss of most of their benefit given the foam/plate won’t have that same energy recoil type effect it does on solid ground?

My other options are Brooks Levitate, and On Cloudflash. Very rarely wear the Ons, but might be their time to have a blast as a more traditional low race shoe?

Other than trying to hunt any hard packed sand, any other tips?

If it’s a short race I’d be wearing traditional racers of you can get any i.e. low drop, lightweights. The less shoe the better. I can’t imagine the Ons would like sand at all. All that power transfer that loads through the springy things getting lost in the sand. As well as sand clogging them up.

If you had more time to adapt, I’d probably run barefoot (unless it’s really hard packed)

barefoot if you are used to it, but not if not…or personal choice probably Inov 8 X talons…

From your list, probably the Ons


Just looked, tri Aus rules state shoes must be worn

yep, UK rules used to be same, but changed a couple of years ago…

Good for strengthening up tendons is it not and stability as everything has to work harder to stay balanced/move - something like that.