the run/walk method

Lately, I have been incorporating some planned walking breaks into my daily runs.  It has been helping breaking up the monotony of my runs a little bit and actually helping me making my easy runs actually easy runs!  Did you know that you should actually be doing your easy/recovery runs 30 to 60 seconds slower than your race pace?  Yeah, I don’t do that, which is probably why I suffer from overuse injuries and chronic soreness.  So, this has been my way to slow my runs down a bit and actually let my body recover from pounding the pavement.

I’m not going to lie – at first I was really embarrassed to have to actually be walking on my runs.  I thought that it made me less of a runner – not as hardcore, a wimp if you will.  But, after a few weeks of incorporating this in, I have felt much more refreshed after each run, making runs on consecutive days much easier to handle.

I have actually incorporated walking breaks in during other training periods, so it’s not a new thing to me, just something I don’t feel like I should be doing while training for certain races.  The first time I experienced a run/walk program was after my stress fracture in 2006.  I used run/walking to get back into running full time.  I started out slow, running 2 minutes and walking 2 minutes, then slowly added minutes to my running until I was up to 8 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking for 30 minutes.  I felt this helped me get back into shape quickly while slowly building back up to running for an extended period of time.

The last time I did a run/walk method was while I was training for the GO! St. Louis Marathon in 2008.  I was suffering from some neuromas in my foot, making running long distances difficult.  But, after reading over Jeff Galloway’s injury-free training plan, I decided to try it out.  I was averaging about 8 minute miles, so I stuck to 4 minutes of running with 35 seconds of walking.  Not going to lie – this was a pain in the rear, but I wanted to stick with it since it was recommended by a running guru.  26.2 miles of this wasn’t fun, but I really feel that it helped me get to the finish line – AND in almost under 4 hours!  (I was 13 seconds shy of a 3:59.)  And honestly think that incorporating some walking in early during the Chicago Marathon would’ve saved my legs a little more than what I actually did (no walk break and going out too fast – but that’s another post).

I truly believe that a run/walk method can be beneficial to everyone, and I also believe you can run a PR – seriously!  Hal Higdon ran a PR when he walked through every aid station in a marathon.  Sure, that’s not much walking – but he still walked during the marathon!

So, don’t be ashamed if you walk during your runs!  I believe it is beneficial to your running and can help keep you injury-free and feeling recovered for your next hard run!