Sunday, December 04, 2011
we're having a run on sand...
running on the beach is different.
for one thing, you're running on sand.
sand, as a base, is notoriously unstable. thus, "a house built on a foundation of sand" historically is considered "not a good investment."
but we digress.
running on sand is difficult. particularly in bare feet. bare feet tend to sink in sand, requiring significant additional effort to push off and ambulate forward in the rapid manner often associated with running. also, beach sand may be fraught with seashells, coral, driftwood, jellyfish, shark teeth, pufferfish, buried treasure, mermaids, kraken, and other dangers. so, caution is always advised when running on the beach.
beaches typically slope toward the water. sometimes precipitously. when running on a beach, therefore, one foot is almost always lower than the other. indeed, one entire side of your body is lower than the other. unless you are genetically or otherwise mutated, your body is not accustomed to this kind of imbalance. it complains and resists and may try to ambulate in a circle. or it may sustain "trauma" consistent with an "injury." plantar fasciitis, strained iliotibial bands and severed achilles tendons are examples of such injuries.
the water associated with many beaches often appears in the form of waves, or surf. these waves sometimes ascend the beach in an uproar of spray and sand. running at the edge of the surf sometimes morphs into running through the surf without any prior agreement on your part. a wetsuit or other protective gear may be advisable in these conditions.
sand, water, slope...what are we forgetting? oh, yes: people! walking people. running people. fishing people. surfing people. small, digging-in-the-sand people. and not infrequently, dog people. which is to say, people with dogs. all vying for the same few yards of navigable beach. it's like nascar, minus the cars.
the running people generally are not a problem. they share your concern for the local conditions, and will invariably give you an empathetic little wave or smile as they go by. one caveat to this is the bikini-clad runner, who often presents a significant distraction hazard. appreciate the young, fit, ridiculously hot bikini-clad runner(s) briefly, and at a distance, to avoid injury.
walkers are slower versions of runners, and can be avoided by veering inland, or into the surf. going the surf route causes significant splashing, however, which many walkers prefer to avoid, even at the beach. go figure.
surfing people are generally not a threat when offshore. they can, however, become obstacles when carrying their surfboards into the water. avoid them by veering toward a corporate environment.
fishing people tend to cast lines into the water, then plant their fishing poles in the sand. this can create a "clothesline" hazard if the lines are low, or if you happen to be tall. be careful to avoid decapitation by ducking under the lines or veering inland. veering into the surf to avoid the lines is not recommended, as you may become entangled or impaled by a fish hook. decapitation and being impaled by a fish hook are additional traumas consistent with injury that are not conducive to finishing your run.
note: fishing people who cast-and-reel, cast-and-reel, etc. should be avoided by veering inland~a radius of a half-mile is recommended (see "impaling" information above).
small, digging-in-the-sand people (often "children") should be avoided. parents tend to object if you trip over or otherwise become entangled with their progeny. also, holes created by digging are hazards associated with tripping, falling, and trauma consistent with injury.
dog people at the beach often throw sticks, frisbees, tennis balls and other dangerous items. also, dogs dig holes in the sand (see "sand-hole digging" information above). dogs (and less frequently their people) have been know to bite a passing runner without any prior agreement on the runner's part. veering inland or into the surf are not viable avoidance techniques, as the dogs (and sometimes their people) are capable of herding you back to the danger zone. consider carrying a large stick with you while running; in an emergency, it can be thrown into the surf as a diversion, enabling you to retreat and escape. alternatively, it may be used to inflict trauma and injury.*
at this point one might reasonably wonder why anyone would ever want to run on/at/anywhere near the beach.
by way of response, consider the following quote from the great louis armstrong, used completely out of context:
"if you have to ask, you'll never know."
note: this is not a complete list of beach running hazards. your results may vary based on local conditions. past returns are no guarantee of future results. see store for details.
* for defensive purposes only. no dogs or people were harmed in the creation of this post.