Running on a Pembrokeshire beach

Since the new year, I've wanted a fresh new header image on my blog. And here it is:

This is me, the short pink one, running with The Boyfriend's dad on Broad Haven beach, Pembrokeshire, while on a weekend cottage break.

If you've never been to Pembrokeshire, go. The entire Pembs coast is a national park - that's 186 miles of natural beauty.  

Broad Haven is a sleepy community in St Bride's Bay with a Green Coast Award, for its sparkling clean beach and water quality.

We stayed in a cute cottage just off the beach, after a 4-hour drive in horrendous storms battering South Wales. In the neighbouring village of Little Haven, we watched giant waves hit the quaint stone wall barely protecting the streets.

Exploring Broad Haven from the cliff tops (c) Mark Hawkins

On a miraculously dry day, Boyf's dad and me got our trainers on for a little run on Broad Haven beach. This was my first experience of running on sand - aside from the occasional barefooted ball game in the Gower.

It was hard.

The first thing I noticed was that I had to keep up my 'tricky terrain' gait the entire time, which is something I usually only adopt for short periods when I'm running on uneven ground or through deep puddles. I shortened my stride and picked up my legs more, using whatever power I had in my quads.

Running in the last of the daylight made it even more peaceful (c) Mark Hawkins

I soon learned three things about this new type of running: that I enjoyed the gait and took pleasure in how it felt, it is probably a more efficient and natural way of running both on and off sand, and that it was hard to keep up. I quickly found myself slowing down as my body realised it wasn't used to this terrain and I'd exhausted a range of muscles I probably don't use as much on smooth, reliable tarmac.

Given that I spend a lot of my time in Swansea Bay, I've often thought about beach running. Like Broad Haven, it has a massive tidal range meaning runners have plenty of firmer, wet sand to practice on before attempting the soft stuff and dunes.

But the main reason why I'm interested in beach running isn't the physical challenge: it's the beautiful surroundings. I love our coastline and I count myself lucky that I have such a huge choice of beaches, coastal paths, formidable cliffs and incredible rock formations on my doorstep. Spending time in these places is both soothing and breathtaking.

So I loved our little adventure in Broad Haven; the clean sand, green cliffs, intricate caves, lapping waves and lone seal pup sunbathing on rocks.

Every runner should experience it.

Someone else enjoyed the beach too (c) Mark Hawkins

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