I want to talk to you about that dirty four letter word that most runners don’t like to say.
As much as I hate to admit it, since I’ve been running consistently (it’s been over 2 years, woot!) I have broken away from the run/walk method that I used when I first began to run. Most of the time when I run, I just run. No rest breaks, save when I’m at a crosswalk or a light and have to stop to let cars pass. When I think of running, I just think of going…forever…until I’m done. I know I’m not alone in this thought process. I’ve talked to a number of newer and newly interested runners who don’t consider walking to be a part of their training schedule.
Well let me tell you something…walking can be your BEST FRIEND when you are out for a run. Why?
Recovery – plain and simple, the body at times needs to take a little break. If your body is like an engine, what good is it to always have that engine reved up on full throttle? Sometimes you need to take it down a notch or several. Hence a nice little slow jog or even a walk break, yes a walk break, can serve you very well. Better than you would think it would. A chance to grab a quick drink of water, rest for a minute, and then get back at your run.
I’ve had a couple of long runs and races that have been saved by walk breaks. When you are talking about doing long distances, or even short ones, and you want to make sure you can last through the end (both mentally and physically) a walk break can really come in handy. Listen to your body and really get to know yourself. When I’m out for a regular run, I am getting better at understanding when my body is in need of a break versus my mind just wanting me to stop due to the perceived amount of effort I’m putting out. There’s a big difference between wanting to stop because it seems to hard and needing to stop because you legitimately need to take a break. Get to know the difference. Listen to what your body has to say and pay attention to the cues that it gives. Or better yet, just try to introduce a walk break into your runs on a semi-regular basis. During races, what works for me is to use the water stations as walk breaks – especially for the long distance races. Mentally I’m able to deal because I know that in another 2 miles or so, I’ll be able to walk a bit and that can mean a lot to a person when you’re talking about doing some of those races that seem to just go on forever. There are plenty of runners out there who still use the run/walk interval method and they are kicking but just as much as those who run full out. Jeff Galloway has a number of different running plans based around the run/walk interval system. While I don’t follow any of them, I know a number of my runner friends who do and swear by it.
So the next time you’re out for a run, and you feel yourself in need of a little break, try walking for a change. You’d be surprised at how good you’ll feel. Till next time! 🙂