Friday, July 8, 2011

Beach Sprints

We did it, we sprinted on the beach and it was glorious.

…glorious until I pulled my hamstring that is.  Another incredibly frustrating and stifling injury.
But back to the good stuff.  The few sprints that we did get in were so much fun.  Liberating even.  I haven’t set out to just do sprints since basketball conditioning back in college.  I have to admit I was somewhat reticent about returning to them.  Sprinting for conditioning was never fun, as a matter of fact, quite the opposite.  I love to run, but somehow my coaches/trainers were able to suck the fun out of it and transform running into a form of torture.  None-the-less, Stacey and I jogged down to North Ave Beach and set up to do a set of sprints.  10 to be precise.
The boardwalk was packed with walkers, joggers, rollerbladers and bikers, but the sand was empty.  Too early for crowds to start amassing, we were able to share the entire beach with a couple walking their dog, and a man meditating.  The solitary nature of meditation and the transitory nature of walking a dog, I can safely say that we had the beach to ourselves.  Not that we needed all that beach, but it was nice to know that it was there.  With the masses flowing up and down the boardwalk, I got a slight feeling of pride.  Proud to not be on the crowded boardwalk, trotting along with the others.  I was going to get a real workout;  faster and better.  And with nobody else on the beach, I kind of felt like we were on display.  In my mind, I was putting on a show for the joggers, showing them the way.
So there we were, on the beach ready to sprint.  We settled on a short distance of about 50 yards – and were going to do 10 sprints in total.  Nothing too crazy.  The distance felt a little short, and when my hammy recovers, I want to try to do longer sprints.  Not having sprinted in a long time, the first sprint felt a bit odd.  Re-learning how my body works.  The rest of the sprints until my injury felt amazing.  Cutting through the wind, I felt like I was flying.  Stacey, who doesn’t consider herself to be fast, said that she felt fast.  Definitely a lot more fun than the traditional few mile jog.
We both started sprinting with our Vibram Fivefingers on, but agreed that it felt way better to just go it truly barefoot.  Feeling the sand in between my toes was great and also liberating.  Then I pulled my hamstring and my elation ended.  The whole walk home, I ranted and raved.  I raved about how much fun it was to do beach sprints, and I ranted about how frustrating injuries are.  I effectively caught the “I want to do beach sprints every week” bug, and put myself in a place where I won’t be able to do beach sprints for 4-8 weeks, safely. 
So learn from my mistakes:

  1. Don’t be afraid to [insert tough workout here] because it was too grueling in the past.  It can be fun when you do it on your own terms.  Hard work can be fun sometimes too.
  2. Make sure you’re warm before you fully exert yourself.  Stacey and I both jogged about a mile and completed a series of stretches before sprinting, and this wasn’t enough.  Because I hadn’t sprinted in so long, my body wasn’t ready for it.  Before you go full bore, do a few runs at 70-80%, then perhaps a few at 90%.  Ease into it.
  3. Don't do beach sprints too close to the gentleman meditating.  If he feels disturbed at all, he can shoot your hamstring down with his mind-bullets!

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