I mentioned working on my walking in the previous post. To me, as a below average runner, this is a very serious point. I never thought it to be necessary to do any training for walking. After all, I’m a runner. It was only when I started running ultra marathons that I realized the importance of walking. Before that I thought walking was for the weak. I never really thought about it as part of a race, not to mention a part of training.
My big eye opener came some years back when I was seconding (crewing, pacing) friends in 100 mile races quite frequently. What I realized then was “wow, these ladies can walk!” Today I still think the ladies walk better than the men, but that’s a topic on its own.
Running with someone in a 100 mile race was always easy for me. Slow pace next to a very tired runner shouldn’t be a problem anyway. When it came to the walking it was a different story. More than once I struggled to keep up with the 100 mile runners when they decided to walk for longer periods. This was a much bigger problem when I walked with women runners. They walked really fast, still racing, and not taking a break as I used to do when walking. I realized very quickly that if I wanted to do long ultras, I’ll have to learn to walk much faster.
This applies to running Comrades as well. More so if you are an average runner that just want to finish in the best time possible. On Comrades day we normal people do lots of walking. You can save a lot of time if you train to walk faster. For me the problem is to walk, not stroll. I have to concentrate to walk properly and when I’m really tired this becomes difficult. My other problem is while I drink or eat I forget about the walking and end up strolling again. That’s what I work on when I train. Not to stroll. I don’t worry about race walking, but I do try to power walk or walk as close to power walking as possible. It was during one of these walking sessions in a 50km race once that I started the mantra, run tall, walk tall.
So if you’re building up towards Comrades and maybe your first ultra, work on your walking. Don’t leave it for the ultra and then you see everyone flying past when you have to walk. You don’t have to lose a lot of time because you take a walk. Concentrate on this during your long training runs. You’ll be glad you did one day.