Being in southern California it’s not uncommon to see athletes down on the beach doing speed workouts. Sounds like a good idea, right? It’s got a beautiful view, nice ocean breeze, you can jump in the water when you’re done, and it has the added challenge of running in the sand. What’s not to like?
It takes about 10 mins to get to the beach from Redline, it would be easy for us to head down there with our athletes and have some fun, but that’s just it, it’s fun, but not all that productive. Running in the sand is not going to make you faster.
It’s important to know what actually makes people fast and what we have to do to improve it. The definition of speed is distance traveled per unit of time. The only thing that matters is getting from point A to point B in less time. In order to do that you have to put force into the ground.
Newton’s third law of motion states that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. For an athlete this means the more force you are able to apply to the ground underneath you, the farther your strides will be.
Notice how he gets the knees up high and drives down and back putting a powerful force into the ground. I’m always telling our athletes to take powerful strides, and that I don’t care how fast your feet move.
Think of it this way, what makes a car go faster? The tires or the engine? Our power comes from our legs. Fast feet without any force behind it is just spinning your wheels; you’re not actually going anywhere.
When running in sand you will not get the same effect because the ground moves. This is only going to be beneficial to a beach volleyball player because that’s what they compete on. For everyone else it’s detrimental to your speed.
When you put your foot in the ground and the sand moves it will cause you to take short choppy steps rather than continuing to drive into the ground. You don’t play your sport in sand and it’s not going to carry over onto the field.
Similar to a “speed” ladder, running in sand is just teaching you to go nowhere fast.