Walk Before You Run
A lot of good coaches recommend sending their athletes out for some long walks. If you are coming back from injury, illness or are very early in your run base development it’s a good idea to include very long and maybe even weighted walks in your programs.
Often people go from zero to way too fast. I see a lot of athletes go from being injured and doing their rehab to expecting to run right out the door at the same pace and effort as before their injury/illness. I see many athletes very young in their running mileage running too fast for too long before their body is developed enough to handle it.
Even if health is not an issue and you’ve got a good base, walking can be beneficial at points in the year. When we run in an ironman the pace is much slower than a pure marathon. It’s likely that our feet are actually on the ground more than off the ground. It’s common to hear ironman finishers say things like, “I just broke down. Effort was slow, HR was low but my legs and joints just slowed me down, even though nutrition was great.”
Running is an eccentric load sport. In an IM we have both feet on the ground a lot. The primary ingredient most athletes skip is building durability. It sounds funny but if you only ever run fast in training (or well above your IM pace) your feet are off the ground much more than what they will be on race day. If your structure has not been developed to handle this kind of load it’s likely you’ll break down.
Returning from injury or illness requires building durability and volume through weighted or uphill walking. That translates to a lot of low HR durability for long hours to retrain tendons, ligaments, bones and fat burning.
Walk before you run and see your overall endurance goals improve!