It has been difficult to convince runners they can actually run faster marathon times by incorporating walking into their race strategy. Many of the more experienced runners that I coach feel that walking is a sign of weakness or failure. They have resisted adopting this running strategy but, because of my insistence, have given it a try.
Without exception, they have all become believers after realizing how wonderful and energized they can feel during and after their runs. I hope that you will also consider incorporating regular walk breaks into your training if you haven’t already. The primary objective of these walking breaks is to conserve energy and reduce the stress you place on your lower extremities and ultimately maintain efficient form throughout your runs. The primary benefits are the ability to maintain your efficient running form throughout your runs, significantly reduce the risk of injuries and more thoroughly enjoy your running.
I recommend that you take regular walk breaks from the outset and not wait until you begin to feel they are necessary. If you wait until you are feeling tired before walking the cumulative fatigue may never disappear. The benchmark that I follow is one minute of walking for every 9 minutes of running. I keep my stride short during my walk breaks to reduce the stress being placed on bones, tendons, ligaments and muscles. I would describe my walking pace as moderate as my goal is to maximize the recovery and rest aspects of these breaks.
The water stops are the ideal place in a marathon to take a regular walk break. Stay to the middle of the road to avoid all the runners gathered at the first several tables all fighting for the same cup of replenishment. It is so much safer and the volunteers are far more appreciative at the last tables of every water stop. By waiting until the end of a water stop I am afforded the luxury of stepping to the side of the road in an area not littered with cups to enjoy a few gulps of replenishment before easing back into my running pace.
Now is the ideal time to incorporate walking into your training program. Runners that resist this methodology will pass you in the beginning of the marathon but become believers when you pass them completely energized as they are ‘forced’ to walk.
So walk early and walk often to more thoroughly enjoy every facet of your running!