Story #187: Barefoot Beach Running

<>I have personally found that one of the best cures for the treadmill blahs is make a quick exit from the gym and take a sharp detour to the beach. Not to work on your tan and chill-out, as fun as that sounds, but for a change of scenery and a jolt of inspiration to rediscover the joy of running and what it feels like to be a part of nature again—to feel the sand beneath your feet, the sun on your shoulders and to play in the ocean like a kid.

To achieve this objective, I went to South Beach, Miami--one of my favorite places when it comes to sandy white beaches and a beautiful turquoise blue ocean. It’s so inspiring to see the locals there biking, in-line skating and running along the shore so tanned and toned, no matter what their age. I always get the impression that in South Beach fitness is more than just a goal, it is a way of life. And when you make it your way of life, fitness just happens.

Making fitness happen is Malcolm Vincent’s job—he’s a personal trainer at the Ritz Carlton South Beach Hotel and specializes in beach workouts…my favorite! I showed up wearing my flip-flops but brought along my running shoes, knowing we’d be running on the beach. As it turns out, I didn’t need my shoes after all, as Malcolm wanted go barefoot beach running, which he said was even more challenging.

“No better way, Bonnie to up the intensity by losing the shoes, and digging those feet into the sand. It really works the calves and thighs much more intensely than it would with the shoes on flat ground.”

Malcolm mentioned calves and thighs…but he didn’t mention what many women are concerned about during swimsuit season—the hamstring muscle group in the back of the legs and a tight derriere! Running on the sand, barefoot or with running shoes, your feet sink deep down into the sand, and your legs and butt work harder to lift your feet up and out of the sand and propel yourself forward, so you get good sculpting benefits.

Since not all beaches are as soft and pristine as this particular beach in Miami, it may be more comfortable and safe to put your running shoes on—you can even consider it a form of cross-training—taking your shoes off for one run, working your muscles in different ways with your shoes on than off, but with the same spectacular oceanic views.

Hang gliders, surfers, and bathing beauties will keep it interesting…even the occasional tourist with his belly hanging out over his Speedo will remind you of the why you need to get your body beach ready—and make you thank your lucky stars that no one you are close to who is overweight wears one of those in public…unless they do. Then my advice us buy them a t-shirt, jogging shorts, and invite them for a run on the beach!

This story was taped on location at The Ritz Carlton South Beach Hotel in Miami, Florida.  For more tips on running, I recommend reading Runner’s World Magazine.

This story was taped on location at
the Ritz Carlton Resort, South Beach