- Special Sections
- Public Notices
The advice sounds so simple. When a person is doing a distance run like a half marathon or full marathon, it makes logical sense — run, walk, run.
As a race walker of two half marathons per year, I never paid much attention to this advice.
Last month, my understanding of this performance principle and the possibility of running distances came colliding together at the Iron Horse Half Marathon in Midway.
The Iron Horse is a much smaller event than any Tennessee event we had participated in. The Tennessee events usually had between 10,000 and 30,000 participants. The Iron Horse is limited to 1,200 participants. It was at the pre-race dinner that we met Jeff Galloway.
Gallowaywas an Olympian of the 1970s who dedicated his life to helping others become runners or better runners. Galloway has done the research to show the “Run, Walk, Run” strategy is not just applicable when a runner is fatigued. Rather, this running strategy should be used as an active form of recovery and resilience during the race.
This is a different perspective of walking as a recovery skill. Galloway discovered what seems like common sense — walking is the most effective and efficient movement for the human body. In contrast, running is designed as a short term burst of energy. Consequently long runs like marathons are very punishing to the body.
The brilliance of the “Run, Walk, Run” is it significantly reduces stress on the body which a long distance run creates. The proper way to use principle is to use walking as a recovery strategy very early in the race and to continue to use it throughout the race. This strategy allows the muscles and the body to recover very quickly from the unnatural stress running creates on the body.
Many runners experience exhaustion on the race course because they keep pushing the body to go to extreme levels of fatigue and exhaustion. This makes the runner more prone to injury and significant soreness after the race.
When runners use “Run, Walk, Run” strategy in a methodical way, they often feel fresher throughout the race and recover quicker after.
Another surprise experienced by runners is they often run a faster time in the marathon. This seems counterintuitive, but since runners never reach complete exhaustion, they are able to finish the last six miles of the race faster.
The ratio to run and walk always is determined by the fitness of the runner and their previous time in marathons. For example, if the runner is capable of averaging a 14-minute mile, the ratio should be 30 seconds running to 30 seconds of walking. A 12-minute mile is two minutes of running and one minute of walking; a 16-minute mile is 20 seconds of running and 40 seconds of walking.
The ratio of run/walk is the key to success of this performance principle. When done from the beginning of the race, results are often amazing in terms of time and physical distress.
If you are considering entering a race in the near future, you should consider this performance principle as a way to help your first experience be memorable and successful.
Dr. Wilson is a performance consultant in Hardin County and owner of The Wilson Center for Performance. He is performance anxiety consultant to the Hardin County Schools Performing Arts Center. He can be reached at TheWilsonCenter7@aol.com.