Walk Before You Run
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. Hiking is always a good option if you have access in your area.
Often athletes will try to go from zero back to full speed. 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. If you are new in your development and running mileage running to fast for too long before your body is developed enough to handle it can be risky.
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 Ironman we have both feet on the ground a lot. You need to really focus on building durability to handle this. It sounds funny but if you only ever run fast in training 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.
If you are returning from injury or illness you might really benefit from taking some time to build durability and volume through weighted or uphill walking. Get some time on your feet with a lot of low heart rate durability for long hours to retrain tendons, ligaments, bones and strength.
Walk before you run and see your overall endurance goals improve!