You’re Still a Runner if You Walk!

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“Born to run…ha, not me!” I overheard on my Sunday coast run as a group of runners passed the other way. You’ve probably heard people commenting, almost self-criticising, ‘Oh, I’ll never become a runner. I can only jog slowly’ or ‘Not me, I can’t make it around the whole park. I have to stop and walk’. These people are all most definitely runners, yet being held back by their own limitations. You don’t need to ‘become’ a runner, you ARE a runner!


Whether you’re fast or slow, running long distances or short, racing for a PB or just heading out for your own private run, if you’re out there having a go, you’re a runner!  


Walking during a run is a stigma for so many runners – and yet many elites and ultra distance runners employ run/walk combinations to keep them going in long events.


Ultra distance trail runner Paul Hadfield, who recently placed 2nd in the Sydney 100km Oxfam Trailwalker, uses walking intervals to prolong his endurance and keep him running 12 hours into the race. His tip? “Keep the walking intervals short and predetermine your walk/run intervals to keep yourself on target.”


A common technique for trail runners is to run for 20-25 minutes and then walk for 5 minutes.  Many ultra-racers also walk up any long hills to preserve energy and make back the time on the run downhill.


So what about the new runner on their local 20- or 30-minute run? A short walking interval can help keep you motivated and consistent as you improve your fitness. Don’t be concerned by detractors claiming ‘walking breaks are cheating’. Five kilometers is five kilometers no matter how long it takes. In fact, you’ll gain benefits from being on your feet for longer.


The ultimate joy in running is not being the fastest (there is always someone faster) or going the longest distance (there will always be new distance to conquer), it’s in challenging yourself and testing your limits.


So next time you head out for a run, leave your ego at home and just relax and enjoy it. But that doesn’t mean throwing away that competitive spirit. Striving for a personal best (PB) over a given distance can be a great motivator and a very satisfying achievement once you reach your goal. Running is about being the best you can be – not beating others.


So remember whether you jog, sprint, or walk & run you’re a runner. Get out there & enjoy!

Get Faster by Going Slower

Ready to take your running up a notch by walking?  Here’s how:

1. Prepare

Pre-decide on your run/walk intervals so you’re not tempted to slack off.

2. Hate Hills?

Walk up long hills to conserve your energy – and then race down the other side.

3. Sprint

Pick up the pace for the last 30 seconds before your walk interval to improve your speed.


Michael Hennessy is the Director of OUTFIT health + fitness and a passionate recreational runner with over 15 years experience in the fitness industry. www.outfithealth.com.au




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