That’s right, I still walk on my training runs and even during races!walking breaks during a marathon

I have been running for most of my life and I still walk. I have a degree in sports medicine, and I have been a certified personal trainer for almost 15 years so it’s not because of lack know how or personal fitness. It’s choice I make. And you are free to make this choice as well!

Many people have this goal to complete a 5k, 10k, marathon without walking. Although this might be a nice goal, in that it meets the criteria of being a measurable and objective goal. I ask you, “Why is this your goal?”

For many people they think they are not a real runner unless they can complete a certain distance without walking. As if all the miles you did run were not real, or some how did not count because you walked for a 1 min every mile or every 3 min. Try telling your body that those running miles/minutes did not count, because you still reaped all benefits of running those, your body still feels every foot strike of those miles.

I did not make conscious choice to keep the walking breaks in my runs, it has just kinda happened. I think it started because I did not want to spill sticky Gatorade all of my cute running outfit. I learned how nice it was to slow down open my sports bottle and not miss my mouth, oh and it felt so good on my legs to do something different. I figured out thru experience all the benefits of walking. Now of course you can read about in runners mags or on running web sites or on this blog.

Walking finds it’s way into all my runs, no matter how long or short. Yes even 3 miles runs have been known to see some walking breaks.

Walking breaks can be found at the half way point, or sometimes they are every 2 or 3 miles depending on the length of the run and where I am in the run. Just knowing that a break is coming is a huge mental benefit to me. It breaks things up. You can decided to run every X amount of minutes then walk,or every X amount of miles, you decide.

Surveys show that if you take walking breaks during a marathon you can cut up to 13 minutes off your time. There are a few reasons for this.

You may find that if you know you get to walk and/or get a drink at the end this mile or in 3 min, you pick up your pace a little bit. This allows your over all pace to remain constant.

Breaking your run up into small sections makes it seem more manageable. Running, especially long distance running is so mental. So you gotta use all kinds of tricks.

Taking a walking break gives your running muscles a break, which means you may be able to fight off overall fatigue for longer. Now you can maintain your goal pace for longer. To get this benefit it’s important to take a break before your legs are too tired, otherwise it too hard to get back going again.

So on my 4 mile training run, which I can do very easily I still take a break at my turn around point. I don’t need to, my legs are fine, my lungs are fine but I take a walking break for 30 to 60 get a drink,let endorphins build up and get back going again. It feels good to stop and it feels good to get back going again.

Taking these walking breaks speeds recovery from your run, so you don’t feel so debilitated for the rest of your day or even the next day. (Ok granted if marathon training, you will feel pretty tired and worn out on those long run days, there is no way around it, sorry)

Don’t worry about what people think if they see you walking. If a runner spots you walking he or she will think you are doing speed intervals and will immediately feel guilty for not keeping up on his own speed work. If it’s not a runner, they have no idea you are even there.

Be careful out there. Our days are getting shorter. Be sure to get out the bright tops even if you think it’s light out and people can see you. Don’t be afraid to grab a light, or lighted arm band. Better to be seen than sorry. And remember if you are running on a road without a sidewalk you should be running against traffic. (You want to see the jerk and give him a dirty look before he hits you)

It’ s not late to register for the Romeo2Richmond Races. Half Marathon, relay and 5k on Sunday Sept 14. Wear your Team Total Health Shirt for a chance to win a gift certificate.