A Diary of My Thoughts During My First Ever Run on the Beach
  • July 7, 2015
  • I’m no dummy. I understand the physics (am I in the right science area?) of why running on the beach is more difficult than running on pavement. Resistance and shifting sand and soft running surface and stuff. I get it.

    But I’ve kind of developed an attitude when it comes to fitness these days. I don’t really want to call myself arrogant, but after suffering through Hardpressed for nearly a year and running two marathons in the same time span, I think I’m in pretty good shape. Workouts don’t scare me.*

    *The one notable exception: a Hardpressed session the day after the Hawks won the Stanley Cup – a day where I woke up after roughly four hours of sleep, still kinda drunk. That was absolutely terrifying and my trainer legitimately laughed at me as soon as he saw me. And then I died. I don’t recommend this, but I am a cheap masochist and I didn’t want to pay $40 to cancel within 24 hours of my session. I brought this upon myself.

    So when I was on vacation in Cabo last week, a beach run seemed like a lovely, soothing way to start my day. Not so fast, self (literally, not so fast. I ran very slowly). I was pleasantly traumatized by my beach run. Here’s how it went down.

    Running on the beach in Cabo

    7 am: My alarm goes off. I hop into my running clothes and grab a banana. I debate shoes for a moment. Running on the beach barefoot seems much more *~OrGaNiC~* than running in my Nike Pegs, which I’m suddenly convinced will weigh a hundred pounds in the sand and render me unable to float lightly across the sand (like I normally do when I run).

    7:23 am: I walk down to the beach, pausing to take in the sunrise and the beautiful aquamarine water. What an Instagrammable moment. I’m just like Pocahontas, except she was landlocked.

    7:24 am: I plan my post-run smoothie. It will be green, for #health. I wonder how many miles I’ll do? Six sounds like a nice number. I’ll run six miles.

    7:26 am: I make my way down to the packed sand, because even though I’ve never run on the beach before, I know that packed sand is easier to run on than the loose, shifting sand further from the water.

    Except it’s not so much making my way as delicately placing one foot in front of the other. For some reason, seashell shards and beach glass didn’t cross my mind as I so callously rejected my beautiful Pegs. I stop and check the soles of my feet multiple times, but the shards of glass I’m convinced are wedged into my tender skin are nowhere to be seen. And I can’t go any further towards the water because there are several stern red flags waving along the beach warning me that the waves (which are legit 12 feet high) are not safe to play in.

    7:28 am: I run a few experimental steps on the packed sand. It hurts. It really really hurts. Back to the loose sand I go.

    7:29 am: I begin running. Except running is a loose term. It’s more like optimistic plodding. My feet feel like they have ankle weights on them. My form is out the window. My chest is heaving unattractively. I am not Pocahontas. I am what Ursula the sea witch would look like if she were transposed onto land.

    [At least 30 minutes later]

    I have to stop and take a break. I pause my fancy new Garmin and glance down. Dismayed, I read that I have only been running for 2 minutes and 52 seconds. Damn thing must be broken.

    7:34 am: I plow on resolutely. I set a distance goal for myself – I will run to the end of the beach, where those scary rock cliffs are. I don’t think I can actually go around them anyway, so I’ll have to turn around there. Three miles seems fine. That’s a respectable distance on a beach. No shame in that.

    7:36 am: Walk break.

    7:39 am: I am blessed with a path of packed sand devoid of seashells and glass. I wonder if I can run this same 50 meter stretch 100 times to hit a 5K. I decide that’s probably frowned upon by the construction workers this path is actually meant for.

    7:41 am: I start to get angry with myself. Haven’t I run two marathons in seven months? Haven’t I done 2.9 chinups at Hard Pressed on at least two separate occasions? HAVEN’T I CONQUERED MY FEAR OF THE HIP PRESS? I have barely been running for 13 minutes and I’m panting like a cow giving birth. Do better, self.

    7:45 am: I hit my turnaround point. Seems like a good moment to rest… err, take in the sunrise.

    Running on the beach

    7:50 am: I get back to my beloved packed sand path and I realize I can’t run on the loose sand anymore. I will not. It’s breaking my spirit in half. So, seashells be damned, I stomp down to the packed sand. I repeat a mantra to myself that Bone Crusher, coincidentally, is screaming in my ear at the same time: “I ain’t never scared! I ain’t never scared! I ain’t never scared!”

    7:54 am: My Garmin beeps. I have run one mile in 11:52 (for reference, my normal pace is between 8-8:30). Cool, self.

    7:57 am: I make it back to my original starting point and read that I have run 1.24 miles. That seems like a nice distance. I think I’ll stop there.

    7:58 am: …but guilt creeps in and I realize that while my run may be over, I can still do a few more exercises. I put myself through 10 hill sprints up some sand plus some ab exercises. That’ll do, Kristen. That’ll do.

    8:15 am: I walk into the juice bar where I get my daily smoothie of glowing green health- barefoot, sweaty, and chagrined. Next time, I’ll wear shoes.

     

    About Kristen Geil

    A native of Lexington, Kentucky, Kristen moved to Chicago in 2011 and received her MA in Writing, Rhetoric, and Discourse from DePaul while trying to maintain her southern accent. Kristen grew up playing sports, and since moving to Chicago, she’s fallen in love with the lakefront running path and the lively group fitness scene. Now, as a currently retired marathoner and sweat junkie, you can usually find her trying new workouts around the city and meticulously crafting Instagram-friendly smoothie bowls. Kristen came on to A Sweat Life full-time in 2018 as Editor-in-Chief, and she spends her days managing writers, building content strategy, and fighting for the Oxford comma.

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