Thursday, November 5, 2009

Walking Breaks

There is a school of thought that walk breaks during a long distance run will help you go further and faster. The theory being that your body recovers from the strain of the running during the walk breaks. Jeff Galloway has made this style of long distance running called run/walk famous. A good many marathoners have used this idea to train for and finish their races.

Before I became a race walker I ran. My running career spanned many years from the late 70s to the mid 90s. During that time I experimented a lot with different techniques and ideas. One being the run/walk. In a nut shell, I didn't find it helpful and actually felt that it hindered me. My experience was once you broke stride from running to walking it was hard to get back into the run stride again.

I'm talking about the technique of running for a certain amount of minutes or a certain distance then walking a minute and running again. I found that is got progressively harder to start the running stride again. I did fine with longer breaks like run 10 min walk 10 min, but the short walk breaks really messed with my stride. I found that slowing my running was easier and once I felt recovered picking the pace back up. The same goes now with my race walking, if a pace feels to hard I'll back off for a while and then come back to it. This is easy to test on a treadmill.

When making the transition from faster to slower and slower to faster, I have found that if you let your arms lead your legs will follow. A proven technique for going faster when you can't get you legs to go any faster is to try and get your arms moving faster. Let your arms lead the pace and it helps the transition.

If you have tried the run/walk and it works for you then by all means use it. But experiment with using it in different ways, you just might find a way that works better for you. During training is the time to do this experimenting not during you race. You need to have all the bugs worked out before the starting line. Nothing makes you feel worse than to be ready for a race and then do something that causes you problems. Like going to fast before you have warmed up properly.

Thanks for reading.

Rambling Panda

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