Want To Be A Better Runner? Try Walking

16 Oct

Ever since I started running, I’ve been subjected to what I’d call “pace shaming.” It leaves me with a nagging feeling that I’m doing something wrong when I slow to take a walk break.

Sometimes it’s thanks to the glares of advanced runners who look down on my slow pace along Central Park’s jogging paths. Or sometimes it’s even internal — a tiny voice in my head telling me I can do “better.”

But what does better look like? Can better only mean faster? 

Here’s the truth: Not only does this “better = faster” mentality only serve to make me feel discouraged, it may be totally off base. Just because I take breaks to walk doesn’t mean I’m not a runner.

Research suggests there are multiple health benefits to walking, but there’s also evidence that it may actually improve your run overall. And this method is not just for beginners — even veteran runners can reap the benefits. 

Still not convinced? Below are a few reasons to embrace your slower stride. 

Walking doesn’t mess with your overall pace.

The common gripe with walking is that if you do it, you’re destroying your whole pace — but science suggests that may not be true. Research published in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport found that runners who took 60-second walk breaks had similar run times than those who pushed through the entire race without taking a break, the New York Times reported.

It helps you become a stronger runner.

Your improvement may actually depend on you slowing it down. Walking can help strengthen your muscles and increase your endurance, Runner’s World reported. If you don’t want to pull back during your run, try swapping a running day for walking — just be sure to double your time.

It helps with mid-run recovery.

Let’s be honest: Who hasn’t gotten a bit winded during a run? A mid-run walk helps your body regroup and preserve energy and can prevent muscle fatigue so you’re able to power through the rest of your workout with ease — because it is supposed to be enjoyable, after all.

You may need a walk — even if you don’t think you do.

Sure, you feel like a superhuman as you power through intervals or push your way over a giant hill, but your muscles may disagree after it’s over (even if your mind doesn’t). Be aware of the triggers that your body may needs a break. Check out this list of signs you need a walk during your run. Your time won’t suffer, promise.

It helps you have a more mindful workout.

There’s a reason you run the route you do, and it’s not just because it’s exactly the length of a 5K, although that helps. The scenery is likely captivating, so make it a point to soak up your surroundings (it has some health benefits). This can also apply to a treadmill workout: Take a little time to reflect on the thoughts coming in and out of your head as you walk. Think of it as a walking meditation. You’re essentially accomplishing two exercises at once — one for your body and one for your brain. Now that’s what you call a strong workout.

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