Whether you’re training for your umpteenth marathon or your first 5K, doing more walking might seem counterproductive to a runner. To the running newbie, walking feels like something you’re trying to train away from, and seasoned vets are wary of the dangers of overtaxing your legs with unnecessary extra miles while training.
But incorporating the occasional walking workout into your training schedule is an essential part of keeping your body at its best, says Noam Tamir, certified strength and conditioning specialist and founder of TS Fitness in New York City.
“Running is a very repetitive type of movement,” says Tamir. “If you do too much repetition of anything, you’re eventually going to see injury. On top of that, if you keep doing the same thing all the time, your body isn’t going to get much stronger because it will adapt to your regular workout.”
This is where walking comes in: first, as a way to shake things up, and, second, as a way to build recovery into your training schedule. Since walking is a much lower-impact activity, it’s much easier on your joints. “If you’re an avid runner, doing a walking workout is a great way to promote circulation and get the blood pumping while giving your muscles a rest and allowing them to recover,” Tamir adds.
HOW TO BUILD A CHALLENGING WALKING WORKOUT
While you’re walking, Tamir suggests paying attention to three things to make sure it’s a worthwhile workout: speed, incline and stride. The first should come as sort of a no-brainer. “If you’re a runner, and you’re used to that level of intensity, walking a leisurely mile won’t really be beneficial,” says Tamir.
The key to a walking workout is that it’s really a workout, meaning you’re still pushing yourself and giving yourself a challenge. Secondly, Tamir recommends cranking up the incline if you’re on a treadmill, since the angle puts a little less stress on the foot. And finally, walking workouts are a great opportunity to perfect your stride. Since it’s a little easier to see your feet and any rolling when you walk, you can make corrections to your stride more easily — think of your walk as a slow-motion playback of your run.