Running along the coastline is trail running at its finest: incredible scenery and challenging terrain. Olympian Jo Pavey shares her tips for coastal running
1. Check the weather
Living just a few miles inland from the sea I’m a regular visitor to the coast path. When I leave home, it can be warm and sunny with hardly any wind, but it’s often a shock how much cooler and windier it can be on the coast, especially on exposed clifftop footpaths. My advice is to always check the forecast in advance, and pack extra kit in the car so you can put on some extra layers if needed.
Want more advice on planning your trail runs? Check out our Guide to Trail Running!
2. Check the tide times
If I’m venturing down to a beach to run, I’ll always have a quick look at the tide times. Some beaches are only suitable for running at low tide when there is enough exposed sand. You might also want to be running during an ebb tide to avoid being cut off.
3. Find the right beach for running
I pick and choose which beaches I run on. Some have much softer sand that is really tough to run on. I find that when your feet sink in and you have to exert prolonged muscular effort that you’re not used to, you have a greater risk of injury, especially to the achilles tendons. I prefer harder packed sand and tend to run closer to the water where the sand is wetter and firmer.
4. Prepare for the terrain
Running the coast path is so amazing and I really enjoy it, but you must remember that it can be dangerous if you don’t take the right precautions. You will need to have appropriate footwear – I like the flexibility of my Saucony Peregrines, which are good on both sections of tarmac and muddy slippy paths.
Some stretches of the coast path have narrow rocky tracks with huge cliff face drops just a few feet away so it’s important that you check the weather conditions and avoid strong off shore winds if you’re running on exposed cliff tops
5. Be safe
Remember the weather can suddenly change for the worse and visibility can quickly deteriorate so I think it’s worth having an Ordinance Survey Explorer map or use the Ordinance Survey phone app to help find your way. A decent GPS watch which can retrace your route back to the start point can also be used for navigation. My GPS watch also has incident detection and live tracking and will alert my emergency contacts if something happens.
6. Take a camera
The beautiful scenery along the coast is what draws me to the area. Running isn’t always about going fast! I like to run my slower runs on the coast so I can take in the views and I’ll even stop for a while to enjoy the scenery or even take a short refreshing dip in the sea. These coastal runs can be mentally refreshing and invigorating, and I find it really helps my motivation.