The majority (≥ 6 miles) of the Beast on the Bay will be on the beach, which is completely different than running on pavement. The muscles, tendons, and ligaments of the hips and legs will be utilized in ways you may not have used them before. So, it is imperative that you begin running on the beach at least once a week, for a minimum of 1 mile, progressing to 4 miles by the end of your training. Your gait should be more of a shuffling stride when running on the sand, due to the instability of the sand. A number of participants will be running along the shoreline, which can be more stable than up on the beach, however, they will be running almost twice as far. The shoreline consists of a series of crescents, thereby extending the distance you run. I recommend staying up on the beach and running a straight line. I’ve passed a lot of people by using this strategy. Also, I’ve run the entire Presque Isle shoreline, and there are a lot of parts that you will sink in. The beach sand is fairly consistent and quicker.
There will be trails through the wooded areas of the peninsula, as well as stretches of ankle-deep mud through the reeds. If you live in the Erie area, I highly recommend the Brown’s Farm course, as well as the trails of Asbury Woods for familiarizing yourself to uneven terrain. Roots are usually the first thing to trip you up, so be sure to make a conscious effort in lifting your feet. You’re going to step on a number of roots, but you will be more likely to avoid injury if you can make micro-adjustments in your footing. It’s easy to roll an ankle on a root, but the more you train in the frontal (side to side) plane, the better you become at adapting to lateral forces on your joints and muscles.
To help participants prepare for the Beast on the Bay, I offer a training program through the LECOM Wellness Center, called Beach Boot Camp. It’s a great way to become familiar with aspects of Presque Isle that you may not have encountered. We are constantly in the water and covered in sand, so you get used to being uncomfortable, while running and performing various calisthenics. We also use sand bags and tires, which forces you to strengthen your core from carrying objects of unbalanced weight proportions. There is a lot of running in the sand and in the water, just as you will be doing in the Beast. I highly recommend wearing running shoes without socks. Because your feet will get wet multiple times, you’re less likely to get blisters if you don’t have the extra layer of fabric rubbing against your skin. As long as your shoes fit tightly on your feet, you’ll be fine. For more information about the Beast on the Bay or my Beach Boot Camp, please contact me on my Hopkins Fitness Facebook page.
-Dave Hopkins, M.S. ACSM-HFS, NSCA-CSCS
LECOM Medical Fitness & Wellness Center
5401 Peach Street Erie, PA 16509