Friday, January 13, 2012

1/2 Marathon Training: My Guilt-Free "Run-Walks"

I know it sounds crazy for someone who used to snicker at the very thought of running for more than 10 minutes to say that they look forward to running 6+ miles once a week, but hey, people change. I've come to love my weekly long runs, a lot. I don't post about it often despite my crazy excitement, but my half-marathon training has been fairly smooth sailing since I started about 13 weeks ago. I actually can't believe I only have about five weeks left. With that, I thought I'd share my most recent running tip or runner's discovery with you: The Run-Walk.
Since I started running 5+ miles for my long run at about Week 10 of my training, I decided to let go of my runner's guilt complex and adopt the "run-walk" method. The point of the run-walk is to take short walking breaks at a regular pace to restore energy and to keep from overstraining your running muscles.  Marathon trainer, Jeff Galloway, is actually a big run-walk fan, and claims that it allows runners to improve their time 10 to 40 minutes during their marathons compared to those who run continuously. He also says that it really extends your capacity to run and reduces fatigue during the race. Afterwards, it'll also leave you a lot less sore and able to recover faster... so there! 

It actually took me a little bit of ego-work to accept this. I kept having runners in my head telling me that "real runners don't stop." Nevertheless, during one of my 5 mile runs a couple weeks back, I felt like I was flagging and thought, "you know what? Walk." So I sucked it up, and walked. I gave myself a minute, no more, no less, and it worked miracles. No shame. Just walking. Really, I'm just trying to avoid running for the sake of running and look like this: 
Conveniently, I'm pacing myself to run 10 minute/mile. Since then, my long runs have consisted of 9 minutes of running and 1 minute of walking, so long as I run my 1 mile in 10 minutes. So far, it's been a winning strategy. Now, I've seen this method poo-pooed all over the runner internet for being a kind of "cheat" method or not as real as if you run the whole race without ever stopping, but you know what, I'm cool with that. If it helps me keep pace, if it helps me take a breather and enjoy myself more during a gruelling 13.2 mile run, I'm going to walk those darn minutes whenever I please!

Maybe I just lack that hard-core/goal-driven trait that seems to be part and parcel to running culture, but this is working great for me. What I know is that I'm running this race for fun. I'm running this race to do something cool with my sister before her wedding. The extent of my "real runner-hood" is probably that I just bought fancy running socks (in pink of course) a couple days ago to keep from getting blisters after long runs. To me, as the French would say, running, "c'est pas la mer a boire" (roughly translated as, "it's not like you're trying to drink the sea").

To all those of you also training for races right now, try it out. Seriously, your legs will thank you for it the next day. Happy Training!

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