Thursday, June 26, 2014

Run Walk Run

In my earliest days of running, about four-and-a-half years ago, G. the Meanie insisted that I only run--no walking. Walking was considered "weak," and my whole attitude towards running was shaped by that mentality. As my running has really developed in the last couple of years, I've had this notion that when I get out there--whether for a 5K, a 10K or more--I should run the whole way. No walking, no stopping.

In my most recent 8-mile run, I did a tiny bit of walking in the middle; I had to pause shortly before Mile 5 to refill my water bottle and I took the opportunity to take some great wildlife pictures before getting on my way. I've been slowly realizing that this is okay--running 8 (or more) miles without staying hydrated is definitely bad, and sometimes a mini-"break" in the middle is actually quite good.

Yesterday, Matt the Reasonable suggested I Google the "run-walk" method, which had me raising one eyebrow and flatly telling him, "My pride dictates that I run the whole thing." Matt's response: "Yeah, but if you give yourself those walking breaks, you will be able to run harder when you are actually running." If anyone else told me to try something with my running, I'd nod, smile, and then do whatever I want, but Matt's advice has always been sound, so last night, I dutifully looked it up, and came across Jeff Galloway's site.

The premise is pretty simple. The walking breaks give your body a quick recovery period, restoring your energy enough that when you run again, you run a little faster than you would have if you'd just run straight through the whole time. It makes sense, but still, this Galloway dude is telling me that to have about a 10-minute mile pace (totally doable for me in a 5K), I need to run three minutes, walk one, repeat.

Wait, what? Who only runs for three minutes? That's wimpy!!

Okay, okay, fine. I'll hear the guy out. He knows more about running than I do, and again, if Matt thinks it's good theory, I'll try it.

So this morning, I set out to run a two-mile course--exactly the same one I ran on Tuesday--figuring I'd give this run-walk thing a go. I'm not quite mentally ready to do a 3/1 ratio, so I set my timing app to do five minutes running, one minute walking.

The results were very telling.

The top run--today's--came in at 20:59, whereas on Tuesday, it took 23:31 to finish. Both days I ran on a mostly-empty stomach (I had energy chews and about 8-10 ounces of water/Gatorade before each run, delaying breakfast 'til after). Obviously, today was two-and-a-half minutes faster than Tuesday, and this was with intervals of walking!

Of course, the walking is power-walking: a long stride, keeping the arms moving. Slowing down too much would mean losing momentum. I actually found the walking to be harder for me than the running, because I walk with a longer stride than I run with. It was odd, switching to walking once I got in a good running groove, but I did notice that when my one minute of walking was up, I was able to spring back into a run and go at a faster pace.

So maybe there is something to this run-walk thing. I might still do some short training runs as all-running, and use this for my longer runs and the half marathon itself. I know I'll definitely try this method on Sunday when I go for my long run.

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