how to climb sand dunes

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Running on sand isn’t a walk in the park. Well, unless that park has a lot of sand, but you know what we mean. There are tonnes of factors you need to consider such as foot position, weather condition and descent management when competing in Red Bull Quicksand. And who better to ask about it than ultra marathon star Tom Evans.Serving with the British Army has given him a superb base level of endurance, enabling him to stay on his feet for a phenomenally long time. Oh, and he’s also completed racing ultras across the Sahara desert, which helps…

beach sand dunes

How To Climb Sand Dunes

1. Dig deep (literally)

When running on sand, you want the largest surface area possible in order to avoid slipping backwards. Dig deeper into the sand. Instead of trying to land on your toes or your heel, you should just try to land on the middle of your foot to increase the surface area so you don’t sink in the sand.”

2. Watch your step

“I learnt pretty quickly to read the sand itself – it’s not all the same as there might be some slightly better packed areas to tread on than others. It really helps when someone has been on the areas already because once they’ve run up it they create steps you can use. Paying attention to this will make your route a little bit easier.The sand will be slightly compacted which just reduces the amount of energy you lose to the running. Trying to follow in someone else’s footsteps will reduce the amount of energy that you’re losing and allow you to summit the dune a bit quicker.”

3. Slide away

How you run up a dune depends massively on how steep the dune is. I like to stay nice and low over the top of the dune in order to not waste too much energy. Sometimes my hands would go down or I’d be on my knees.As soon as you get to the top, there’s the fun bit – you just slide down the other side. I dig my heels into the sand – with my them dug in, it really saves your legs and was as quick, if not quicker method because you’re not thinking as much on your descent.If you lead with your toe, you’re likely to trip up and have to lift your toes through fresh sand, which is just going to completely wreck your legs.”

4. Prep for the weather

With the heat and with the sun in my events, it was brutal. Light reflects off the sand so being able to see clearly is incredibly important. I wore good quality sunglasses to shade my face. I was always wearing a cap to keep the sun off my face to remain slightly cooler and so I can see better if it gets too bright.I just wear wide lens sunglasses just to get that extra bit of visibility when I’m running into the light. It really does help being able to protect your eyes not just from the sun but from the bits of sand that your hands are going to pick up as you get sweaty.”

5. And if it rains… wet sand is better

https://www.instagram.com/p/Bj49yE3gSrz/embed/?cr=1&wp=441&rd=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.redbull.com&rp=%2Fng-en%2Fsand-dune-running-red-bull-quicksand-tips#%7B%22ci%22%3A4%2C%22os%22%3A28219.02499999851%2C%22ls%22%3A24286.315000150353%2C%22le%22%3A24586.310000158846%7D”With hard sand, the consistency is very similar to running on the road so it would be more like running normally. The dunes are always going to be soft, it doesn’t really change – maybe in between it will allow you to open up your stride a little bit more and be able to push off a little bit faster.The faster you try to run in dry sand while being inefficient will mean the more pressure you will put onto your feet, and the more you’re going to sink into the sand, and the more energy you’re going to be using. With wet sand it will allow you to go just a little bit quicker, certainly on the flats.”

6. It’s all in the knees

Because sand dunes are so steep, it’s going to be all about getting your knees really high and having that strong drive down through your core and through the front of your quad into your knee.One really good exercise is doing step-ups which you can do in the gym and working hard by running up street hills. The dunes are very quick – it shouldn’t take you more than 15 seconds so really short sharp and intense. You can also throw in some box step ups to really increase your leg strength.”

7. Choose your footwear wisely

I think it’s a completely individual preference. I wore a pair of road shoes for the marathon which had desert gaiters attached – because you don’t want sand getting into your shoes for four hours a day.I also think running barefoot, if you’re used to it, is a great option – it’ll feel great under your toes and you’ll feel more at one with nature. It’s a very viable option – if I was running I’d wear shoes, probably lightweight trail shoes but I think whatever’s comfortable for anyone.Just don’t overthink it. Yes, the terrain is the slightly different and not what most runners will be used to, but the shoe that should be the least of your worries. Enjoy it!”

where are the largest sand dunes in the world

Training Schedule for Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Start these exercises six to eight weeks before you plan to climb or boulder intensely. You’ll see real improvements in strength and endurance over this time. You’ll want to balance these workouts with time in the climbing gym or outdoors. If you have access to a climbing gym or climbing training tools, work on building up hand, finger and grip strength. Depending on how often you’re climbing, perform these exercises two or three times a week.

To keep your energy up for hours of sustained bouldering or climbing, supplement these exercises with cardio workouts. Rowing on a machine is a good choice to work your upper and lower body. Swimming strengthens your upper body while getting your heart and lungs pumping. Whether it’s biking or working on a gym climbing machine, choose an activity you enjoy. Try to do about 30 minutes of cardio activities two to three times a week in addition to climbing time.

Training Exercises for Rock Climbing and Bouldering

Keep the following in mind as you train:

  • Make the exercises fit your body, not the other way around.
  • If something doesn’t feel comfortable, make modifications or skip the exercise.
  • Set your own pace. Increase the repetitions or add more resistance as your training progresses.

Warm up: Start each workout with five to 10 minutes of easy cardio activity such as jogging or jumping jacks. Then follow the guidelines below:

  • Inhale during your initial exertion, then exhale as you return to the starting position. Make sure you breathe regularly during faster exercises.
  • Initially, you’ll want to rest for about 60 to 90 seconds at the end of each exercise. Reduce that rest time to between 30 and 45 seconds as you get more fit or if you want a greater cardio challenge by keeping your heart rate up.
  • Complete all of the exercises once, then rest for two minutes and repeat the set one or two more times.

Shoulder External Rotation to a Pull-Apart Exercise

The following three exercises warm up your rotator cuff, a group of muscles that helps stabilize your shoulder when you use your arm. The goal is to reduce the chance of a shoulder injury by getting those muscles used to, or aware, of these motions.

Prop: Resistance band

  1. Hold a resistance band between your hands with some tension.
  2. Extend your arms out in front of you.
  3. Move your wrists away from each other as you widen the resistance band.
  4. Repeat 10 times.

Tips and modifications: Avoid shrugging your shoulders.

Shoulder External Rotation Exercise

Prop: Resistance band

  1. Use a resistance band that you can secure at slightly above shoulder height.
  2. Stand facing the band and grab the end of it with your left hand.
  3. Your left elbow should be out to your side at shoulder level. Your palm should face down and out in front of you.
  4. Move your forearm up and back so your arm now forms half of a football goal post (or a cactus arm). Try not to move your elbow as you pull up on the resistance band and return it to the original position.
  5. Do 15-20 reps on each arm.

Tips and modifications: Keep your back straight and avoid dropping your elbows. Keep your chin slightly tucked.

Shoulder Internal Rotation Exercise

Prop: Resistance band

  1. Use a resistance band that you can secure at slightly above shoulder height.
  2. Stand facing away from the band.
  3. Grab the end of the band with your left hand; your left elbow should be out to your side at shoulder level with your forearm up at a 90-degree angle and forming half of a football goal post (or a cactus arm).
  4. Move your arm and pull the band forward while keeping your elbow steady. Slowly return to the 90-degree angle.
  5. Do 15-20 reps on each arm.

Tips and modifications: Keep your back straight and avoid dropping your elbows.

Jump Squat Exercise

This strength exercise conditions your legs for power while climbing and falling, as well as dynamic moves. Jumping off a wall and landing is something you’ll do frequently when working on challenging bouldering problems.

Prop: None

  1. Start with your feet shoulder-width apart and then squat down until your thighs are at least parallel with the ground.
  2. Keep your chest up, your feet flat and your knees over your toes.
  3. As you come up from the squat, push through heels and explode up and jump a few inches off the ground.
  4. Land softly and quietly, and immediately go into another squat.
  5. Do 15-20 times.

Single-Leg Squat Exercise

This exercise works your quads and glutes while challenging your balance. It simulates climbing positions and movements you’ll make as you extend your leg to find footholds.

Prop: None

  1. Balancing on one leg, lift and extend the opposite leg out in front of you.
  2. Relax your shoulders and engage your abs, keeping your body weight centered over the standing leg.
  3. Keep your arms straight out in front for balance and your chest up.
  4. Lower yourself down into a single-leg squat.
  5. Push into your heel on the standing leg to help you up.
  6. Do 15 times on each leg. Rest for 30 seconds between legs.

Tips and modifications: If you find this too challenging, set up a chair behind you so you’re sitting into it.

Side Plank with a Lateral Pull-Down Exercise

This exercise works several muscles you engage to pull yourself up, including your lats and shoulders. It also works your glutes and obliques to develop upper body and core strength to keep you stable.

Prop: Resistance band

  1. Use a resistance band that you can secure about 2 to 3 feet off the ground.
  2. Get in the side plank position with your head facing toward the band: Lie on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and stack your feet one on top of the other.
  3. Hold the resistance band in your top hand and keep your shoulders perpendicular to the floor as you engage your abs. Tighten your glutes and lift your torso off the floor.
  4. Maintain this position while pulling the band from overhead down toward your shoulder, stopping when your elbow is near the side of your ribs. Be sure to keep tension in the band from the extended position to the tucked position.
  5. Do 15 reps on each side.

Tips and modifications: If this is too challenging, you can modify the exercise by crossing your top leg in front of your lower leg, or going down onto knees.

Side Plank with Overhead Press with Band Exercise

This exercise works on your deltoids, upper trapezoid and triceps to help you pull yourself up.

Prop: Resistance band

  1. Use a resistance band that you can secure about 2 to 3 feet off the ground.
  2. Get in the side plank position with your head facing away from the band: Lie on your side and place your elbow under your shoulder and stack your feet one on top of the other.
  3. Hold the resistance band in your top hand and keep your shoulders perpendicular to the floor as you engage your abs. Tighten your glutes and lift your torso off the floor.
  4. Maintain this position while pressing the band from shoulder height up overhead, locking out the elbow.
  5. The band should have tension throughout the movement.
  6. Do 15 times each side. Rest for 30 seconds between sides.

Tips and modifications: If this is too challenging, you can modify the exercise by crossing your top leg in front of your lower leg, or going down onto knees.

Pushup with Single Arm Row Exercise

This exercise works your arms and shoulders for stronger climbing. The pushups strengthen your pecs and triceps while the arm rows focus on your lats and biceps.

Prop: None

  1. Begin in a pushup position with hands on dumbbells and feet set wide apart.
  2. Lower your body down in a straight line. After you push back up, row one elbow back, bringing the dumbbell up toward the rib cage.
  3. Return dumbbell to ground and do another pushup.
  4. Row the other elbow back, bringing the dumbbell up toward the opposite rib cage.
  5. Maintain a plank position throughout the exercise by keeping the body straight from head to toe. Do not let hips rotate; keep chin slightly tucked looking at the ground ahead of you.
  6. Do 10-15 reps on each arm.

Tips and modifications: If you are unable to maintain a stable trunk while on your feet, drop to the knees to complete the exercise.

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