A couple of weeks ago, I did a post called Real Runners Do Walk. The basic premise is that walking is good for runners. And, I don’t mean going out and walking on your days off, I mean incorporating walking into some of your normal runs. Many new runners incorporate walking into their running program, but I’m not so sure there is any real intention there. If I had to guess, I would suspect that most of you are walking because you HAVE to.

Instead of walking being the debacle that happens when you can’t run anymore, I’d like to encourage you to consider walking as a tool you can strategically use to become a better runner. Tools are used with intentionality. You need to know why and how to use them.

Why will walking make me a better runner?

As a new runner, one of the most important things you can do is build your aerobic system. Aerobic means with oxygen. If you think about running really slow or even walking, you will notice you have enough oxygen. You are not gasping for breath. This would indicate that you are working in your aerobic zone. You should be able to chat it up with a friend and not be gasping for air.

If on the other hand, you are one of those people who say they can’t talk when they run, or you find yourself talking (gasp) like (gasp) this (gasp), then, you are most likely not running your aerobic zone and are probably running too fast.

Why does that matter?

Building your aerobic zone is the basis for all of your future running. Always, always, unless you are doing the 50 yard dash, you will draw upon your body’s aerobic capacity. Much like a pyramid needs a solid foundation, you need a solid aerobic base to support all your future endeavors. Running in your aerobic zone is good for your heart and teaches your body to use fat for fuel which makes your body more efficient.

Incorporating walking, if you do it intentionally, will help you keep your heart rate low, thus building your aerobic base.

How do you intentionally incorporate walking?

There might not be an exact right way, but there is a wrong way. The wrong way goes like this: Start running, run as far as you can until you cannot breath, feel like you are going to pass out, then stop to walk.

Tired runner

THAT is not the way to do it.


Because, at that point you have already sent your heart rate through the roof and are no longer developing your aerobic base.

Again, instead of using walking as a last resort, develop a plan of when to walk and for how long. Plan to walk BEFORE you actually have to. If, you usually start to walk around ½ a mile or 3 minutes or whatever, do one of the following.

  1. Start out slower. If by starting out slower, you can run your usual distance comfortably, then go ahead and run that distance and then walk for 30 seconds to a minute. Then start running again. Repeat this pattern for the remainder of your run.
  2. If you start out slower and still feel exhausted, plan to walk before you usually do. For example, if you run for 3 minutes, only run for 1.5 or 2 minutes, and then do a 30 second or 1 minute walk break.

Over time you will be able to lengthen your run interval and shorten your walk interval. You might also notice that you actually have the time and energy to enjoy your running.

go girl celebrating

Now, wouldn’t that be nice?

Question for today:  Are you using walking in your running program?  If so, what walk/run ratio do you follow?


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