Walking is way under-appreciated and misunderstood.  Not only is walking misunderstood, it might even be the absolute missing link to your success.  Walking is a really, really useful tool for virtually all runners.   That’s right.   You can no longer say “I’m not a real runner”, because real runners do walk.

Recently I was teaching a running clinic. Over the past 7 years, I have probably taught 70 of these. I LOVE teaching them. I get a wide variety of people in them. I get people who have been running for years, all the way to the very beginner who has never run a step. Most commonly, however, I get the runner who has been running for a little while but still “trudges” through their runs.   They like the results, but not necessarily the actual running part.  They don’t actually consider themselves a runner and they almost always hold the belief that in order to be a “real” runner, they need to be able to run a certain distance without walking.

Perhaps you are there? I’ve certainly been there. You can’t understand people who say they enjoy running. You are clearly not made for running like they are. Every step is a huge effort and the whole thought of enjoying running or achieving a runners high is absolutely a crock of bull.

Sound familiar?

What I also find all too familiar is that inherently, especially if you are trying to become a “runner”, whatever that means, there is a stigma attached to walking, like if you have to walk in a race, you have failed, or if you do a run/walk combination, you aren’t really a “runner”.

First of all if you are a walker and you have no desire to run, good for you! Walking is an awesome form of exercise. You can do it virtually anywhere, all year long, with not a lot of stress on your joints. It’s not expensive, it gets you out in nature and it doubles as a relationship builder because it is easy to do with friends. Keep it up! Walking in and of itself is great.

Happy Go Girl resized

If you are a runner, or aspiring to be a runner, incorporating walking into your running will help you become a better runner.

You are not a failure if you have to walk.

            You are not less of a runner if you have to walk.

           You do not qualify for the Real Runners Club of America if you run a race and don’t have to walk.

           You are not in the minority if you have to walk or choose to walk.

In fact, I would classify you as one of 3 people, maybe all three: Wise, Tenacious, or Relaxed

Wise: You realize the inherent benefits to walking and shun the “get rich quick mentality” of our current society.   You realize  that by incorporating walking, you are building a solid foundation so you will be able to run better for longer.  You are taking small incremental steps towards your bigger goal.

Tenacious: Sometimes things don’t go as planned on training runs or in races. When they don’t go as planned, you have the option to quit OR you have the option to finish. Tenacious people finish no matter how they finish. The hardest races you will do are the ones that you have to struggle to finish. Yes, great races, where you feel awesome, the weather is perfect, all the stars align and you float along are great, and you should be proud of them. But you should be equally, maybe even more proud of the races and times when you have to dig deep and finish something even if you have to walk some or all of it.

Relaxed:  You realize the inherent joy in running and being in nature.   Your goal is to continue running for your health and your sanity, but you can also look at running with a healthy perspective.  Running is a life giving hobby.  You use it as a stress reliever, an opportunity to connect with others, and a way to stay healthy, but you don’t feel the need to win or make it into a job.

Now, don’t get me wrong, it’s good to have goals to run a mile, 3 miles, a half marathon or whatever without walking. I totally get that and encourage you to shoot for it. It’s just that along the way, you might want to start looking at walking breaks in a new light, as a tool you can use to

  • Give your body time to adjust and avoid injuries
  • Strengthen your aerobic system
  • Add distance
  • Keep your form
  • Provide a mental break

Today when you take your walk break, say something positive to yourself.  Start to look at walking in a positive light.  Use it as a tool to strengthen and bring more joy to your running.

Dear walking….you are awesome, so misunderstood, so under-utilized. I vow to shed new light on you and let you shine like the true gift you are.

Question for today:  How have you used walking to improve your running?

I’ll go first.  I use it to every few miles especially on long runs.  Just a small 15-30 second break helps me to keep my form.  Thus, I run faster and feel better at the end because I didn’t “fall apart.”

follow my blog!