Rules for Beach Running

Beach season might be coming to a close, but not for runners. Here're some things to consider—wind, dead jellyfish, sand dunes, dogs—to best enjoy a fall jog along your favorite shore

With temperatures hanging out in the 70s lately, I haven’t been busting out my bikini and boogie board and heading to the beach as much these last few weeks. As cooler weather rolls in, laying half naked in the sand just isn’t as appealing. But I don’t write the beach off all together once the “ber” months arrive. This is actually my favorite time of year to go for a beach run. Think about it—cooler weather, a nice ocean breeze, less tourists to laugh at your funny gait or the awkward way you swing your arms. It’s really quite ideal. Hailing from Oklahoma, the beach run was a newfound commodity for me when I moved to Charleston. Now I frequently run on Folly and always enjoy it, but it wasn’t always so. I had to learn these few simple things first to really enjoy my beach runs:


1. Wear shoes. When I first tried to run on the beach, I was unsure about the proper footwear. It seemed like in movies and magazine photos I always saw idealistic images of people taking off into the sunset barefoot and fancy-free. After all, who wants sand in their shoes? But here’s one thing that’s not in those images: hundreds of broken shells stabbing you in the toes. So take my word for it, wear your running shoes, walk gingerly through the soft sand and once you get to the hard-packed stuff, you’ll be good to go.


2. Check the tide chart. The last thing you want to happen is you drive to the beach, park, get across the walkover only to find there’s no beach to run on. This has happened to me more times than I can count and it’s devastating each time. Low tide is the best time to run simply because there’s more beach and more hard-packed sand. When it comes to running, soft sand=bad, hard sand=good. At high tide, the waves will eat up all your hard sand and you’ll be stuck hurdling (and sinking into) knee-high dunes. It’s not fun.


3. Look down. I often get caught up in the moment on a beach run. The ocean breeze is whipping through my hair, the waves are lapping near my feet and the sun is setting into the water. Who wouldn’t get caught up in the view? There’s a lot of action going on, too: kiteboarders, surfers, kids building sandcastles, drunk people playing bocce ball. It’s one reason a beach run is so entertaining! But don’t forget to look down at your feet where you’re running. A rock, a hole, a small child, or dead jellyfish can easily trip you up and effectively ruin your beach running career. 


4. Tune into the Weather Channel. Judging the weather is tricky for a beach run. Take the wind for instance. Sometimes it works in your favor, say when the warm sun’s beating down on you—that ocean breeze is like a fan blowing on your face the whole time. When the wind is too strong though, it’s like running into a wind tunnel while being pelted in the face with sand. The temperature is another issue when deciding what running gear to wear. Just always remember, it will be colder once you’re on the shore, so bundle up if need be.


5. Watch out for dogs. This goes for all runs, but especially on the beach where owners might not be expecting a person to run by tempting their dog into a bark-and-chase frenzy. Even more so in the off-season, when dog-owners are more apt to let Fido off the leash to romp around. I love dogs, I really do. But I don’t love your dog when I’m six miles into my run and your pooch is chasing me across the sand, yipping at my heels.


6. Take a dip. Maybe not too far in, that water gets cold! But after a long run, some icy water lapping over my toes feels pretty good.