Updated: Mar 11
Runners get into running because they like to run. Professionals who work with runners need to be able to explain to runners why walking will help them achieve their running goals of faster, longer, and healthier. I’ve had to really perfect the way I get runners on board with walking and now even the elite runners I work with are walking correctly when they need to. I find that when we can communicate to runners the "why" behind our plan, they are the most receptive. Here are some ways you can explain to runners why walking is necessary:
For the beginner runner: A planned schedule of running and walking intervals can help you progress your running. You might be able to start with only 1 min intervals, and that's ok! You will soon be able to progress to longer and longer intervals. Consider keeping a consistent and progressive schedule of run/walk intervals, rather than just running when you can and walking when you have to.
For the currently injured runner: If you can't run right now, walking is likely the next best thing (if you are cleared to be walking and/or not having pain with walking). Walking uphill (5-8%) at 3.0-3.5mph on a treadmill can get you into the same zone 2 heart rate that you do most of your training in. The mechanics of walking uphill are also very similar to running uphill.
For the returning from injury runner: Rather than taking a guess as to how many miles you can start with before your injury pain pops up again, a return to running program gives you a safe and effective way to return to running. You start with just enough running to help strengthen the injured tissue and test things out while doing walk/run intervals. You can then progress based on your soreness level.
For the training for a marathon or ultra Runner: Research has shown that there is little physiological benefit to running over 3 hours. In other words, you're not physically becoming a stronger runner by running over 3 hours. If needed, we often suggest adding a few miles of walking at the end of 3 hour runs to increase time on the feet and train mental stamina while avoiding the extra load of running.
For the need to take a break runner : Use walking as a mindfulness session. Leave the phone, the music, and the to-do lists behind for a moment. Bring awareness to things like your breath, your feet hitting the ground, and the environment around you. It's a great way to practice mindfulness without sitting still on a pillow!
This blog written in conjunction with Dr. Brianne Scott PT, DPT, Level 2 CRGA OCS, CSCS, RunDNA Resident Certified Running Gait Analyst, & Omega Project Co-Founder