Five Tips for Tackling a Coastal Course

Little compares in terms of drama and exhilaration than running an event with a water element. Excitement aside, follow our five simple tips below to avoid the perils of a coastal challenge.

Get wet.

Even your favourite tried-and-true socks, shorts, t-shirt pack and undergarments can behave differently when subjected to salt water, fresh water, sandy or muddy environments. You may detest deliberately getting wet and dirty but if you are keen to avoid nasty rashes and blisters, PRACTISE in conditions similar to those you will experience on race-day. Try crew socks to keep gritty sand out: opt for a t-shirt over a singlet to avoid painful salt-irritated pack-rub: apply lip-balm and anti-chafe liberally (stash a small pottle in your pack – some lubricants require a second application after frequent immersion in salt water).

Love your shoes.

As with clothing, shoes that behave impeccably during a normal run can suddenly become troublesome in a coastal event. Friction caused by debris in the shoe can cause short socks to ride down and the back of the heel to rub: again, crew socks may be the answer. Double-knot laces: check your shoes DRAIN well and practise with different treads on slippery rocks – you may find the larger contact surface area of road shoes gives better grip than shoes with aggressive lugs.

Get in the swim.

If there is any likelihood your event will have a full-immersion component, go for a short practise swim in your race gear, including hydration pack – it can be more difficult than you think! Not only are shoes awkward to swim with, pack straps may need to be loosened to facilitate a range of arm movement and items secured so they don’t float out of pockets. Take particular care if you prefer to backstroke: attempting backstroke wearing a hydration pack can be difficult as the pack may act like a flotation device and roll you onto your front.

Master the monkey walk.

Even in clear and reasonably shallow water, the bottom may not be visible if sediment has been stirred up by other participants. Rather than lifting and placing your feet in the traditional manner, slide your feet forward along the bottom. This ‘monkey walk’ ensures your protected toe will encounter submerged rocks or logs rather than your shin or knee.

Branch out.

Avoid getting close to any type of foliage that is in the water, i.e. partially submerged logs, overhanging willows. Submerged twigs and branches can easily trip you, or ensnare a foot. Make a wide berth and swim around if you can, or head to the shore and opt for firm footing.

You are ready!

Carry more fluids than you normally require, particularly if the day is warm: don’t forget sunscreen, a cap, and throw a light shell in your pack in case you are forced to slow or stop suddenly. See you on the Shore!

mark fordham