This post comes to us from my good friend and co-worker who has inspired me more than she will ever know! Janet is also in the process of working on a blog of her own to document all of her running accomplishments including her BQ in Chicago last October. Stay tuned, but for now here is some advice on walking during a race from a Boston Qualifier and USAT National Age Group Olympic Distance Competitor for the Triathlon. She is one tough chik!
Walking? As a runner? Absolutely! Yes, I’m talking to you runners in addition to the run / walkers. First of all … there is no shame in walking even if you think you are a dedicated runner through and through. Many marathoners will tell you they schedule walk breaks along the way (i.e. through water stations). This “break” gives your legs / joints a chance for a “breather” before picking the pace back up again. Some people will actually complete their event faster as a run/walker than as a runner.
As you work through your training, throw in a walk break after a certain mileage or amount of time.
Run / walkers: try a one to two minute walk break after every three to ten minutes of running.
Runners: try a 30 second to one minute walk break after one to two miles or every 15-20 minutes.
Another pointer … walk the uphills and don’t worry about holding your pace or time when on hilly courses.
Quick example … I participated in a duathlon (run/bike/run) last year. The second run was on a trail. It was a nice change of pace from my usual paved courses. However, for those of us not familiar with the area … the trails can be a bit challenging to say the least. As I started the run, I fell into my normal pace and felt great. I was moving along with no problems and even though it was a little hillier than anticipated, I was right on track. Then … all of a sudden … I looked up ahead and noticed someone planted a mountain in the middle of the course. Ugh! A couple of us joked about the people looking like a bunch of ants as they “climbed” this “mountain” which was drawing nearer. I looked forward to the challenge.
As I briskly WALKED up this hill, I could see defeat and disappointment on my fellow racers’ faces … and it was early in the run. I chatted with one of the participants and discovered that was the worse hill but there were more to come. At that point in time, I changed my race strategy and decided I would walk all the “big” hills and run the smaller ones to save my legs. This worked really well for me and I finished feeling awesome.
At the finish line, I heard so many people who were disappointed and discouraged because they had to walk the hills and “real” runners don’t walk. Come on, folks. This is the time to be smart and do what you need to in order to successfully finish the event and still enjoy it along the way. As I said before (and will probably say again) there is no shame in walking as a runner. Don’t let something like having to walk during your race, training, or event day take away from the success you just achieved.
Just remember … a planned walk break is quite different than running until you are forced to walk. Believe it or not, you can actually get a mental and physical uplift from pre-planned walks. If you plan to walk at some point during your event, train that way. Then … you won’t be disappointed if you have to walk while out on the course. You have to find what works best for you … that’s what this training stuff is all about. )