"I'd rather be seen on my bicycle than on a park run" - Quote from the dark side

Thursday, 10 February 2011

Walking as part of your training


Jennifer at The Running Artist wrote this post about walking as part of her ultra and trail training. This reminded me about a post I did shortly after I started my blog about working on my walking. I thought it would be a good idea to post it again now that more people read the blog. So here it is…

Walking

I mentioned working on my walking in a 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, but to walk! 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 that is now the title of my blog.

So if you’re building up towards Comrades or 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 on race day.

26 comments:

Ewa said...

Walking hard is tough. My first foot injury happened not because of running but training for a 21mi power walk. At that time I could have run those miles easier than power walked. It was fun though.

Thanks for the stair training suggestion. I am pretty sure now that some of my bloggy friends are trying to kill me. :)

GaryB said...

Walking is something i really need to work on as i found it really difficult thing to concentrate on keeping the pace up on my last 2 long runs. I will pinch your mantra for the next one when i need to walk :0)

HappyTrails said...

Thanks for the tips Johann. Good luck at Pick and Pay on Sunday!!

Molly said...

hmmmm, that's interesting.

Good luck in your marathon Sunday, loved your Dad's birthday cake! yum.

Amy said...

This is so true! Sometimes I feel like walking fast is much more tiring than running at an easy pace.

Anne said...

Although I'm not training for ultra's (yet) I do walk during my long runs and like the idea of training to walk faster! Thanks for this post :)

Indi said...

You are right in that it is something to learn, as its not just walking like a stroll in the park walking! I have trouble keeping up with my ultra running friends when they walk..man they haul butt!! :) I've got a race this weekend which will be an icy mess..so i forsee walking uphills as well, another key things to save legs in longer races!!
Thanks for reminding me to work on it as well!!

Staci said...

Thanks for explaining your blog title, I might be using it as a mantra on Sunday. I will be employing the run/walk strategy in my training race on Sunday, hope to see you there.

Lauren said...

Great post, thanks for sharing. Walking helps a great deal on those rugged trail races. I am teaching my son who is struggling in P.E. cross country to not stop when he's tired, but to walk and walk FAST. My first run with him, I noticed that when he walked, he slowed down to barely moving. I hollered "Walk Fast!" He looked at me like "what's the difference?" I think he understood when I ploughed up the hill walking leaving him still at the bottom. Only thing is, I'm so used to walking fast now. Everywhere I go, grocery store, etc., EVERYONE seems to walk soooo slow. : )

Marlene said...

I don't think I ever would have considered this either - the things you learn!

Teri S. said...

Great point. It is tough to keep up the fast walk when you are tired! I realized that when I did my long one the other day...got more work to do.

Big Daddy Diesel said...

HAHA!!! You discovered my training secret, you know I am training to do an ironman, which ends the race with a marathon, with the run being my limiter and that part of the race is really worrying me, I have trained walking fast, I know I cant run the whole distance, but I will be walking, but I need to learn and train how to walk fast, there are time cut offs for this race, so I, for one, am training this

Jill said...

I know if I have to start walking in a race or as part of a long run, my pace is practically a crawl. I always admire those who can walk with speed and it's something I have got to learn to do!

Emz said...

I
LOVE
this!!

"It was only when I started running ultra marathons that I realized the importance of walking."

It was only when I RAN an ultra that I realized I WAS allowed!! :)

Holly Vipond said...

Good stuff!!

In trail runs, I walk/hike nearly all the hills (just not the little ones) because I know that that's what I'll be doing in the race. It is definitely easy to relax on the walk though, so it takes focus to walk with purpose. Fortunately, I also do a ton of walking in my daily life (no car) so that helps a lot too.

A friend of mine who is a much better ultra runner than I am has recommended power walk training as well, but I haven't focused on it yet.

Giorgio said...

This post is really interesting!
Thanks for that!
Good luck on your marathon Sunday!

Jennifer said...

Thank you Johann, I was hoping you would post this soon! Like EMZ I would not have thought it was even allowed until I really started my serious training. Cheers!

Abby @ Have Dental Floss, Will Travel said...

This is a timely post! I've been integrating fast-paced walking into my training in preparation for adventure racing. In a multi-day race, you're walking far more than you're running, and that added kick does wonders for your finish time!

Meg said...

I didn't know I could walk in a race, or should walk, until I did a hilly 50k. Walking saved me. I've been hearing about Comrades, it sounds like fun!

Cindy said...

I know a coach who teaches run/walk. Very effective in conserving energy, especially when it's scheduled in, you control it instead of walking slower because your tired.

Christina said...

I've known that to do many ultras you walk parts. I hadn't thought it was walking as compared to strolling. One day I'd like to do an ultra and I will take this tip and incorporate it.

Chris K said...

Look at Meg, Comrades sounds "fun". Yikes. Johann, I'm doing my 1st 50K in April. Do i really have to walk?

Black Knight said...

Interesting post, before now I have never thought about walking as part of training.
Good luck on the Pick'm pay marathon.

ultra collie said...

my ultras tend to be hilly/mountainous affairs where walking is a must in parts. importantly the action/muscles you use walking are different so you do really need to build it into your training. running and walking uphil are two totally different things. totally agree.

Vera said...

Great post! As a Galloway program director, we use the run/walk/run method for training and races. People actually post faster finishing times by including walk breaks because you are also slowing fatigue - which I can only imagine is ever so important in Ultras. I can't wait to do my first one!!

Small Town Runner said...

Not sure if I'll ever get to Comrades (monster race!!!), but if I do, you can bet I will be employing some serious power walking!

Great advice, Johann =D

Just noticed you have a small marathon tomorrow!? Best wishes!!!!