The walk/run method is popular among beginners, but as we become stronger runners, many of us abandon the strategy altogether. This, of course, makes sense, since most people start a walk/run program with the goal of eventually running nonstop. What many runners don’t realize is that incorporating a walk/run into your training program can actually provide a number of benefits, regardless of your ability level.
Benefits of the run/walk
As we said, adding a walk/run into your program can be beneficial whether you’re training for your first 5K or your 10th marathon. Here’s why:
Running is a repetitive, high-impact activity that puts a lot of stress on your body. If you’re fairly injury-prone, or you’re trying to return to running after an injury, adding some walk breaks into your run will decrease the load on your body and allow you to go farther. This is particularly important for runners returning from injury because the affected area will be more sensitive and prone to re-injury.
The day after a hard workout, you might be sore or more tired than usual, and many runners in this situation will go out the next day and stubbornly do their scheduled miles, despite how tired they are. What these runners are forgetting is that a recovery day is meant to help their bodies repair from the previous day’s workout, and this is only delaying their recovery. Adding some walking into your run, even if it’s only a minute or two every 10 to 15 minutes, can reduce the stress on your system and help you recover faster.
If you’re looking at trying out a longer race distance (say you’re going from a 5K to a 10K, or maybe you’re jumping to the half-marathon or marathon), using the walk/run method can help you increase your mileage gradually while reducing your risk for injuries.
For many runners, it can seem like a hit to the ego to walk during a run, but when used correctly, it can make running more enjoyable, reduce the risk of injuries and actually improve performance. Give it a try on your next easy run and reap the rewards.