Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Walking and running - heresy?

I was listening to the Confessions of a Runner podcast this morning during my run which sparked an internal debate I've been engaged in all day.

Jodi, if you happen to read this, it's a great podcast, and I can really notice how it's improved even over just three episodes.

Anyway, to the point of this post...Jodi had some pre- and post-race audio clips of her first half-marathon which she ran recently. She talked briefly about half- and full-marathon participants who have a walk/run strategy...run 1-2 miles, walk a minute is the most common method.

By the way--what I'm about to say in no way should be construed as me putting Jodi down, contradicting her, or saying she's wrong. She is a great blogger, a great podcaster, and a very strong person. She happened to mention one side of a discussion that goes back and forth in the running community--I'm sharing my thoughts on the other side.

To some, this may sound like "cheating"...after all, if you're running a race, then you should run the whole thing, right?

UGH, I hope not!!! Let me say right up front that I am a run/walker, at least in distances above 10K. Last year in training for the Chicago Marathon it was run a mile, walk a minute. This year, it's more like run 2 or 3, walk a minute. As I mature and strengthen as a runner, will I ever get away from this strategy? Hm...probably not. For a few reasons:

  • Walking during a water stop allows you to take in the entire cup of fluid, versus trying to drink while running and end up with half of it on your shirt.
  • Walking gives your leg muscles a break and allows short recovery time.
  • Run/walkers can generally go farther distances than straight runners.
  • Running gurus I look up to like John Bingham and Hal Higdon strongly endorse the strategy.

Podcaster, runner, and all around good guy Steve Runner over at Phedippidations had a great podcast from July of last year on this very topic, entitled Run Walking. He spoke much more eloquently about this than I ever could.

So, I'm curious readers...is run/walking kosher, or do you think it's cheating? Remember these are opinions, folks, and opinions are like belly buttons...everyone has one... (C;


Tim Wilson said...

I don't have a problem with it at all. It personally makes me feel like I failed, but it is strange when I say that, because I really don't have a problem with it. My first 5k I walked about 1/3 of, but I still considered it my first 5k that I ran.

I guess I am kinda weird that way. I think it is fine, and it is all about completing the race.... but I do feel like I have to push myself to persevere to the end or I always have the nagging thing in the back of my mind that I didn't run it all.

As my race distances get longer, I don't feel quite as bad. I am following a Jeff Galloway plan for my Half Marathon, and he is a big proponent of walk/run too.

I don't look down on anyone that walk/run, and in fact I may be standing in line behind them to get my banana at the finish line. :)

La Chanson de Phoenix said...

This is actually something I used to do on my own (I trail run, so I never entered races). It gave me the time to just soak up the surroundings, and the bonus was the buzz near the end of my run and not wanting to quit running. Man, I miss running now.

Jim said...

Tim I look at it this way...you're crossing the finish line, so you're a runner and it's not "cheating". (C: Good that you're improving. Oh and Jeff Galloway...yeah, I forgot to mention him also, as a big backer of this idea.

Sue, I've only done 1 trail run but I enjoyed it--like you said, it's fun to soak up the surroundings! It'll be warm soon (hopefully!) where you are, so you should start up again... (C;


Michelle said...

Jeff Galloway - that's the guy I was thinking of! Huge proponent of walk/run method. I haven't used it a lot myself just because of the thought of how much longer it will make my run, and I usually want them over with as quickly as I can.

I have not planned walking in a race before. But, for my 1st marathon, and for my longer training runs, I think that not only is it ok, but I think it may be necessary for me. I'm not sure if it's physical, or more of a mental trick, for me it kind of breaks up a run - I always do this in my head anyway. I break up a run into segments as I am going - 30 minutes into a 2 hour run is half of the first half. I do this so the whole damn thing doesn't make me want to give up!

Ellen Mae is running said...

hey, thanks for commenting.. ("running wish list")..chicago marathon was on my wish list but 2007 kinda freaked me out as you very well know. If they put on an earlier start time and conditions are different, it might be back on the list. We'll have to see what 2008 brings. Anyways...agree with ya on why you started your running blog. It's also an outlet since most everyone around me who isn't a runner is pretty much sick of listening to me talk about it..haha. anyways, happy running =)

Jim said...

Michelle I'm like you--in a longer race the walk/run strategy is necessary both physically and mentally. So I completely support and endorse your mental tricks!

Ellen thanks for stopping by my blog! Chicago last year was very weird--so awful for a first marathon. But it's 2 weeks later this year, and I doubt it'll be that hot...

RE: people being sick of listening to you--the Confessions of a Runner podcast had a great line about that...Jodi said the difference between a runner and a non runner is this: a runner comes home, talks about a fantastic long run or a great, and the non-runner says "Oh nice. What's for supper?" (C: I get that at home a lot, LOL...


Doc26.2 said...

I think the run-walk method is just fine. Galloway is huge here in Atlanta, a lot of run-walkers. A bud of mine has sort of graduated out of it and he feels his best times gotten by walking through the water stops, not really sticking to a strict regimen. It seems like running a marathon is all about the time... I mean I've hiked 27 miles in one day before, but it took 11 hours. If you get a good (or even better) time by run-walking who cares?

Jim said...

Doc I imagine the heat and humidity in ATL help contribute to the number of run/walkers. And it's not like someone has to do it forever--like your buddy, people may "graduate" out of it. The bottom line is, you're out there on the course and that's what counts. Thanks for stopping by!


Amanda MacMillan said...

I totally agree with this too ... My sister and I did a half marathon together in November, and she seems to be able to run slower but more consistently than I can ... I have to either speed it up and run, or slow it down and walk. Really really slow jogging just doesn't work for me. So while she jogs along at a nice even pace, I sprint ahead for 30 seconds, then take a break to walk until she catches up. It seems to work for us and it keeps us both motivated to keep going! I'm running a second half marathon in April, and I'm trying to up my endurance and not walk at ALL, but we'll see how it goes ...

Jim said...

Amanda thanks for the comment. I think run/walking just works for some people, but doesn't for others. It's cool that you and your sister could get the your running styles to sync up!

Good luck on your 2nd half marathon...I'll be looking for a post-race report!