For a long time, I thought all exercises fit neatly into separate categories. Related to the content on this blog, there were walkers and then there were runners. Not much in between and — usually — they were all working to become runners (or, in the case of the already-runners, better runners). At least that’s what I was doing in the beginning.
Various training experiences, injuries, and life in general has taught me differently. And over the years, I have become an advocate of the hybrid-sport walk/jogging. Big names are proponents, too. Jeff Galloway, member of the 1972 Olympic team, is extremely passionate about this topic. In his experience, runners can “record significantly faster times [specifically in the marathon] when they take walk breaks because they don’t slow down at the end of a long run” (source).
That’s pretty cool. Here’s more great stuff:
- As a transition to running, walk/jogging can work wonders for building confidence as well as endurance. When I first started running, I mapped a three mile loop around my neighborhood and would try to do the entire distance by, you guessed it, running. That first time, I didn’t even make it down the block without huffing and puffing and feeling really frustrated. However, over (a long) time and with a mix of running a minute, walking a minute — eventually I was running more than walking.
- As a training tool, walk/jogging can help make the jump to longer distances. I used this method especially during my first-ever marathon training cycle. I’d run the first 6 to 8 miles of a long run and then walk/jog the rest by running a mile and walking a minute or two, depending on the distance. The thing that’s so great about this approach is that it can even help on race day. I’ve seen many participants take purposeful/timed walk-breaks and jump right back to jogging again.
- As a recovery aid, walk/jogging can (with a doctor’s supervision) be a safe way to get back into the swing of things after a long break. It can also allow runners to test out how healed, say, their IT-bands are after a bad flare-up. And recovery goes beyond muscle and bone issues, any type of illness (bronchitis, the flu, etc.) or other break from running can also be eased through walk/jogging. It’s the best of both worlds, combined.
- As a cross-training activity, walk/jogging can help runners lighten the load and work different muscle groups for a day each week on the training plan. Walkers can benefit from short spurts of running mixed into their regular activities, too. Related to all of this is how walk/jogging can even snap those exercisers with mental burnout back into moving again. Sometimes it’s hard to say “I’ll go for a 5 mile run,” but instead of charging ahead at one steady pace, the alternating nature of walk/jogging might just make the distance happen.
- As a workout in its own right, walk/jogging is a lower impact alternative to all running and more of a cardiovascular output than walking. It can be a beneficial activity for people of all ages and abilities — period. During the latter half of my pregnancy, for example, I learned to
love timed walk breaks because they allowed me to get that rush of adrenaline I usually get from jogging without all the pain and high heart rate, among other things. When I was returning to the sport postpartum, I — again — used walk/jogging for a while as a good workout on its own and not just to get back to running ASAP.
Who out there is a fan of walk/jogging? Why do you do both?
Written by Ashley Marcin.