It’s OK to walk

My 30-minute walk today was rather enlightening. It helped me realize how walking can play an important role in my training… even for ultramarathon training.

When I ran my first marathon, I told myself I wasn’t allowed to walk. And so I ran the entire way. Sometimes, very slowly, but I ran. I finished in 4 hours, 19 minutes… and my body hated me.

With my recent hamstring injury, I’ve thought a great deal about how I’ve been treating my body these past few years. I must admit, I haven’t been very nice to it.

Since running still appears to be more than my hamstring can handle, I decided to go for a 30-minute walk. 15 minutes forwards and 15 backwards. I covered a little over 2 miles.

Most ultrarunners would argue that a 30-minute walk does little, if anything, for ultramarathon training. Here’s where I disagree.

Walking is great training

Just because we’re used to running everywhere, doesn’t mean that walking loses its value as far as being a worthwhile exercise technique. 30-minutes of walking per day can keep a person healthy for decades.

Walking can be strenuous without being stressful

You can raise your heart rate, burn calories & keep your heart happy, all without putting stress on your body. While it’s true that running provides a greater heart benefit & burns more calories, you can’t deny that its exponentially more stressful on your body.

Where does walking fit into your training?

Here’s an idea: Once or twice a month, instead of going on a long run (20+ miles), go for a 3-hour walk instead.

  • You’ll be on your feet about the same amount of time
  • Your heart will get a workout, while your legs get a rest
  • It’ll feel unbelievably refreshing
  • Walk forwards & backwards, alternating every 10 minutes or so. Keep it interesting… and work both the front & back of your legs.
  • Bring a friend. Enjoy the conversation. No need to worry about pace.
  • Bring a couple 3lbs dumbbells if you want to work your upper body
  • Just take a deep breath and enjoy it. Remember that rest & recovery are just as important as your actual training.