Running Barefoot on Netarts Bay Beach, Oregon

A cool, wide beach beckons you to run –

You are at the beach and it makes you feel like a movie star. You should be running in the surf, preferably barefoot and without perspiring. You can actually do that at Netarts Bay beach in Oregon, just about 7 miles west of Tillamook, Oregon. There are just a few things you should know.

Netarts Bay barefoot

Netarts Bay beach running savvy:

  • Running barefoot, even in the sand uses your muscle groups differently than running in shoes. In fact, barefoot in the sand may use your muscles differently than if you are used to running barefoot on pavement! If you aren’t used to running barefoot or haven’t progressed to longer distances, keep your beach run on the conservative side.
  • Not all sand is created equal. Some sand is firm and some sand is squishy and you can’t always tell by looking at it. If you don’t want to trip or strain muscles, test your route once before running it faster.
  • A slanted or bumpy route is generally harder to run on. Although Netarts Bay beach was fairly flat to look across, there were sections with odd, hard ripples in the sand that made footing unsure. There were other places that I called “sand moguls.” They seemed like they might be fun, but they tended to really throw off my stride and I quickly decided to find more level areas. I imagine that if you tried to run in these types of places you would be at high risk for twisting an ankle … and getting your shoes wet.
  • Tide that goes out will come in. Check the tide tables to make sure you don’t get cut off from your base at some point in the run, or scout out an acceptable alternative route on a nearby road. I did not see a road that went all along Netarts Bay beach, but there were some places where it was an option.
  • The tide is constantly changing. That means when you turn around, the route may look different and you may likely end up evaluating different terrain than you did on the first pass.
  • You will be sharing the beach with walkers, dogs catching projectiles, fisherman, children building sand castles, and other runners. It was by no means crowded on the Saturday morning that I ran, but I wasn’t lonely either.
  • There may be an occasional sharp shell. I came down on only one shell embedded with sharp points sticking straight up. I was able to reflexively respond. There was absolutely no injury or skin impaired as a result. Still, it is something to keep your eyes open for, as any wise runner will know.
  • Don’t give up on passage until you can evaluate the terrain up close. Some sections of rock look almost solid from a distance, but when you get to them, there is plenty of foot space. Other places, the rocks were so embedded into the sand that they might as well have not been there.
  • Slow down to cross water, even if it is only a few inches deep. Water changes the texture of the sand and can play tricks with the eyes. Also, if there are any rocks, there is a good chance they will be slippery.

Make sure you still feel like a movie star at the end of your run!

Here is the link to my Strava.com record of the run: Morning run on the beach of Netarts Bay

Here is a short video I made of my 10.4 mile long run by doing approximate 2.5 mile repeats on Netarts Bay beach about a week ago.