Page 1 2 Runners are willing to try just about anything to get faster, or to somehow get more out of training fartlek, intervals, heart-rate monitors, carbo gels, and even LSD (the running kind, that is). But walking? For that serious runner who is about to turn the page with a smirk, read on. Once commonly viewed as a sign of weakness, walking is emerging as a useful training tool to boost your running performance.
The idea of adding walks to runs in training and during long races certainly isn't new, but it has been winning converts in recent years, especially with the resurgence of the marathon. Walking can be a useful tool for runners of all abilities. Let me outline six ways that walking can help your running.
Walking breaks dramatically reduce the stress of continuous running on the legs, without a loss in aerobic benefit. In fact, many runners report that they can cover two and three times the maximum distances they could attempt without walking breaks. If you've entered a long race but just haven't been putting in the miles, consider taking walking breaks during the race. Or if you're thinking of moving up from 10Ks to half-marathons, half-marathons to full marathons, or marathons to ultra-marathons, short walking breaks may be just the boost you need to cross the finish line.
Exactly how long should your walking breaks be? Over the years, Henderson and Jeff Galloway, another walking advocate, have experimented with lengths of walking breaks in search of the best ratio of running to walking. Independently, both arrived at the formula of one minute of walking every 10 minutes, which translates into six minutes of walking per hour. There is no magic formula for exactly when to slow down, but for marathons, Henderson suggests slowing at every aid station, or every few miles. The one in 10 formula translates to 48 seconds of walking per aid station, if you are running 8-minute miles. Walking through the aid stations will also have an important side benefit you'll have time to take in lots of liquid as you go by.
If you include a long easy run in your program to build up endurance, then walking can help. For marathoners, half-marathoners, and 10K runners, those long aerobic runs can really punish the body. Walking breaks can make the long runs a little less taxing on the body, so you can recover faster. Depending on your schedule, a quicker recovery might make it easier for you to handle some of the faster miles, making the rest of your training week more productive.
The best way to find out is to experiment. Test Henderson and Galloway's formula, or try your own time frame. Make sure that you insert the walks early enough in the workout or race to reap the benefits later. If you don't take a break until your body starts screaming, you've waited too long. Ideally, you should feel good throughout the long runs and stop when the time is up not because you have to.
Daniels explains, "In effect, the walking breaks turned the workouts into a big interval session, which allowed [the women] to go faster than continuous running for the same amount of time."
The same technique can be used for returning from injury. If your legs can only put up with limited miles, then walking breaks will help you to cover the running miles much faster, which will speed your return to fitness.Page 1 2