So you’ve been doing this running thing for awhile. You’re stronger and faster than before you started, but you still don’t feel like you’re a “runner” because you take the dreaded walk break?
News flash! Research indicates that periodic walking, in training and in races, can help you run farther and with reduced aches, pains and injuries.
Still, many runners see a walk break as a sign of failure, and tend to only walk when they are unable to run anymore. What if we told you that some of the most seasoned runners in Moms on the Run, from 5K veterans to Boston Marathon qualifiers, not only take walk breaks, but schedule them into their training and races?
Many experts agree on the science behind the run-walk method. As personal preferences go, it may not be a good fit for everyone. But if you’re looking for a way to relieve aches and pains while training for that next race distance, it may time to give it a try.
“Walking reduces the impact forces on the muscles, joints and tendons, and reduces breathing rate and heart rate,” says running coach Jenny Hadfield, co-author of ‘Marathoning for Mortals.’ “So runners are able to cover more distance with better form and alignment, and a reduced risk of fatigue.”
A 2014 study in the “Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport” looked at 42 non-elite runners who trained 12 weeks for their first marathons. A week before the event, the runners were split evenly into two groups: those who would run the entire way and those who would take 60-second walk breaks every 1.5 miles.
The walk-breakers performed well. Runners in both groups finished the marathon with similar times, and the group that took walk breaks experienced less muscle pain and fatigue after the race than their running-only counterparts.
Olympic distance runner, author and trainer Jeff Galloway pioneered the walk-run method in the mid 70s. He added walks to his students’ training because he saw that it helped them run farther and for longer periods of time than if they tried to plow through the distance just running, and with fewer injuries.
One 50-something female student implemented Galloway’s technique and clocked her fastest half marathon in more than two years, finishing in 1:55.20 at the 2016 Pensacola Beach Run.
Bottom line – strategic walk breaks can help you become a stronger runner! Try it for a couple of your training runs and let us know how it goes in the comments below.