I’m going to level with you. A Red Bull Quicksand media pack dropped into my garden today, and I am NOT relishing the thought of leaving my dignity and perhaps a leg on a Margate beach next month.
However, when a company gives you lemons (in this case, two cans of Red Bull, a stick of rock and an invitation to hurt yourself), they also give you the means to make lemonade (training tips).
Since this is literally going to be the toughest mile I’ll ever walk, I was happy to see that there were some tips from a guy-next-door, relatable runner. Oh wait, hang on, they’re from 1500m runner and two time OLYMPIAN, Andy Baddeley.
Right now, Andy, I’ll take what I can get, so what have you got for us?
- Core stability
Running on the sand, you are going to expend on average 1.6 times more energy than you would on the road. With this in mind, you need to prepare your core so that your body is not in total shock when you start your run.
Building up your core can be easily done with this series of exercises ahead of racing along the beach.
Single leg bodyweight squats - focus on keeping your knee central over toes; this promotes balance, core, glute and quad strength. For the more advanced, try this on a bosu ball.
Classic Plank variations - adopt the standard front plank position on your elbows, trying to keep a neutral spine. Initially, just practice holding it for a minute then build up to longer times coupled with lifting alternate feet, or moving up onto hands (into press up position) and back down onto elbows again.
Leg lowers - Either on the floor, or lying on your back on a bench in the gym, focus on maintaining your spine position as you lower your legs from 90 degrees down to the floor and back up again. The easier option is with knees bent, and one leg at a time. Hold on to the bench next to your head to help.
Try it first
Running on sand will be a shock to your body (and specifically lower legs) regardless. To soften the blow on race day, make sure you give yourself ample time to get used to the terrain.
To avoid your legs burning, your lungs bursting and your heart rate going through the roof inside the first minute, practice running on the sand before race day.
Don’t even attempt to break a PB on a beach. Running on sand can be like running with ankle weights on, it will be tough at the best of times. Make sure you set off at a sensible pace, race the course and the terrain, not the distance as you know it.
Give yourself a chance to really push yourself in the closing stages rather than having to slow down in the middle section.
Pick your line
Whilst sand is an unpredictable surface to run on, you can be smart when choosing your perfect route to a mile. After running on the sand for a short while you will learn how you and your feet react to the surface. Choose the firmer, faster sand for your quickest route to the finish, avoiding any sandcastles or holes along the way.
Go old school
We all love our running gadgets. Whether it is the swanky new GPS watch, a heart rate monitor that gives you a new number every tenth of a second or magic headphones that make you forget you’re hurting.
When you are destined to run a race with ups and downs on a tough surface, don’t let the technology be a distraction. Push yourself without needing to know the pace you’re running, the readings will prove inaccurate compared to your road running.
Enjoy the time without the numbers, switch off and enjoy the views.
Red Bull Quicksand takes place on September 1 in Margate, Kent. Entries cost £30. Mudstacle members are entitled to a 15% discount, which can be found on the member discount page, if you want to join me in my world of pain.