There is something interesting about conversations with newer runners…..and even slower runners….ask them how they feel about walking.
I have had the conversation with many runners over the past few years. There seems to be a very stark line between people. Of course you have the people who honor walking as a legitimate activity. Those people who walk marathons and half marathon. But lately there seems to be a growing number of people who seem to equate walking with failure. I have heard things like, “My goal is to do this whole race without walking” or “I would have done so much better if I hadn’t stopped to walk.” or even “I was doing great until I had to walk”……Since when does walking equal failure? Even my beginner people that I mentor in the No Boundaries program set goals that involve never having to stop and walk again. People seem to get genuinely upset when they have to stop and walk during a race. I’m all for setting goals to push yourself further, but why the stigma about walking? Even with the increasing information suggesting that walking while running is better for you then straight running. Then of course there is Jeff Galloway’s programs that promote walk/running. So why the snickering when people admit to walk/running? Why is this looked down upon and suggested that it is not “real running”. Tell me, is not the 10 mile distance the same?
Truth is, walking does make running easier at time. For example, this summer I completed a 5 mile run around a standard loop that I use regularly. I ran the entire time and ended up with a time of about 56 minutes. I completed the same run the following week at run 10 and walk 1 minute intervals. I ended up with a time of about 53 minutes. It turns out that I actually run faster when I know I get a rest break at regular intervals. What a concept!
I’ve been faced with a new set of questions lately. Upon challenging myself to complete the winter Beast of Burden 50 Miler I knew that I would have to embrace walking even more then I already do. Coming off a new half marathon PR I had to face the music that I could not maintain that pace for 50 miles. I had to slow down. I had to start walking more. Now, as I have been slowing my pace to actually hope of completing the distance it seems to bother me more and more that people are so biased towards walking. In Vegas last weekend I passed spectators who shouted at me to “get moving because you are almost there”. Several encouraged me that I could do it if I just started running again. A little girl even ran up along side me and told me to run like her. She was adorable so of course I did, even though I was on a scheduled walk interval. I had never realized before that even spectators (who may or may not be runners) equate a walk break as something negative.
I did a long run yesterday from my house to my fiance’s house and passed many things I probably wouldn’t have seen if I had been running my normal pace. I didn’t freak out when I had to stop to use the bathroom in Tim Horton’s (or again at Walgreens, still working out fueling issues!). I embraced the journey and the slowness of it all. Yes, it took me much longer then normal to complete 31.5 miles this weekend. Yes, I walked A LOT (I’ve been working with 5:2 run/walk intervals). But it didn’t bother me as much as it would some people. I get frustrated that I may be loosing speed, sure….. what if I finish my ultra and it takes me forever to build back up my speed? I’ve always focused on distance because I’m not a particularly fast runner. 11 minute miles are a thrill to me. Anything below that is a miracle. Running a 2:19 in Philadelphia sent me through the roof. Now, just as I was getting faster I take on a new challenge that slows me down. I found it to be beautiful that I still had something around 13 minute miles yesterday when I spent so much time walking. It may be strange, but I was damn proud of an average of 13 minute miles.
Now I ask you…..what is your opinion on walking? Do you hear negativity about it? Do you think it is more about the journey or the speed? What do you think of people who walk entire marathons and half marathons (not necessarily for charity, just for “fun”)? I’m really curious to know people’s thoughts.
- How the Ultra-Marathon Killed the Runner (barefoot-monologues.com)
- Closing Out This Season (trialsandtraining.com)
- GALLOWAY Technique by Jeff Galloway (goodgrip23.wordpress.com)