Running on the beach is one of life’s greatest pleasures. Picture yourself now, the refreshing sea air, the calming sound of lapping waves, the sun gently fading into the horizon, your stride relaxed and easy.
Have you got the vision? Can you see yourself? Great. Now forget about all of that.
Running on sand is tough. Scientists estimate runners expend 1.6 times more energy on sand than the road. And now Red Bull have designed a course that makes it even tougher.
Brace yourself for this year’s inaugural Red Bull Quicksands – possibly the most brutal one-mile race out there.
The event takes place this September 1st in the seaside town of Margate. 750 people will tackle the 1-mile long route which includes seven towering man-made sand dunes, four big and three smaller.
The aggressive climbs, the loose terrain and fast acceleration are purposefully engineered to challenge even the most hardened of athletes. And it doesn’t stop there.
Advancing competitors will walk their burning claves and starving lungs back to the start line as the event follows a knockout format, with runners progressing through heats and semi-finals to reach the grand final.
So, what can competitors expect from this lung-busting, endurance race and how do you train for it?
Understand the terrain – running on soft or wet sand works the lower leg muscles, ligaments and tendons, and because you sink lower you put extra stretch and load on your Achilles tendon.
To avoid injury on race day, slowly introduce beach (or sand track) runs so that your body can adapt to the new stress. A good way to do this is barefoot, but before you do that ease yourself in wearing trainers. Start with short runs, slowly building up to drills and distances. Once you are comfortable introduce barefoot running, (again key to this is slow and steady wins the race).
Search out the soft sand. There’s not much traction in soft sand which means your running posture alters. You might find you lean further forward, your knees go higher and your elbows further back. This isn’t ideal for perfecting your running style, but it provides a brilliant cardiovascular workout and allows your body to get used to throwing some new shapes.
Practice the pain. To compete in endurance races you need to be comfortable with discomfort. Find a hill or some outdoor steps and set yourself goals that push you through your pain barrier. The more times you do this the more confidence you will have on the day. Your brain will tell your body ‘you can do it’ because it knows it’s done it before.
Visualise the race. Walk through the possibilities, imagine the pain and visualise yourself conquering it. It might sound crazy, but many athletes (and successful business people) swear by this technique.
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