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Christine wrote, “I just started really getting into running last year. I’m currently in week four of training for my first half-marathon (and first race ever). I’ve been getting pretty discouraged when I have to take walking breaks during my runs, especially since one of the friends I’m doing the race with is a powerhouse and it seems like she just doesn’t get tired and can run forever without stopping, even though we are on similar fitness levels. I try to remind myself that I’m still completing the miles whether I walk a little of it or not, but I’m definitely a perfectionist so I get frustrated with myself and scared that on race day I wont be prepared if I’m not training myself to push through. Do you have any insight on this?”

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I’m excited to hear your feedback for Christine.  But first:  I’m going to riff on something that seems unrelated to the issue of walking and running, but I promise… it’s not.

 

What is the yardstick by which you measure yourself? How do you know if you are smart enough, popular enough, fast enough, wealthy enough, successful enough?  If you’re worthy?  If you’re happy?  Is your yardstick defined by emotions, by numbers, by moments?  When you think about your yardstick, you’ve got to ask who created it, too.  Did you create your own standards?  Was it your parents?  Your partner?  Society at large?

 

Because of Operation Beautiful, I’ve spent a great deal of the last four years of my life ruminating on this very topic.    The yardstick.  It’s such a complicated issue, and it’s one that continually morphs and evolves.  As every year passes, I look at my yardstick with fresh eyes – “Oh yes, I remember that time that so-and-so said this-and-that to me, and now I can see how it shaped my expectation about money, marriage, friendships, etc.”

 

I think we can all agree that self-improvement is a great thing.  What is the point of life, after all, if we aren’t seeking new answers and uncovering deeper layers?  And perhaps we can also all agree that, inherently, humans are competitive.  If you think about the yardstick, it’s pretty obvious that there are two types of standards: ones you create for yourself, and ones you create based on other people’s expectations, accomplishments, and beliefs.  Two ways to improve yourself; two ways to craft your yardstick; two ways to be competitive. 

 

I don’t know about you, but I really struggle to think of a single point in my life when being competitive with others was helpful.  My yardstick gets fifty degrees of crazy when I become competitive with others.  I end up wanting things I don’t need; I ignore the great things that I already have.  I feel like I’m not doing ‘enough’ and falling behind.  I’m not saying that self-competitiveness is always rosy, either – any type of competitiveness can really go too far.  But I think that relying on others to define our yardsticks is a very slippery, and potentially very dangerous, idea. 

 

It’s hard to do, but when we manage to look at at yardstick in a vacuum, without all the influence of outsiders, we can see a path to true balance, joy, accomplishment.  So the first thing that I would say to Christine is: Stop worrying about your friend.  Stop eyeballing her yardstick and borrowing her definitions of a successful race.  Define your own success, trust your training, and know that you can do this. 

 

Because the truth is that there is no single definition of a runner.  Runners come in all shapes and sizes.  Runners do 5Ks and ultramarathons.  Some runners never do a race at all.   Runners run without stopping and runners take breaks to walk.  Runners sprint and runners jog.  Being a ‘runner’ is about getting up and pounding the pavement, day after day, because it makes your heart sing.  Most of us run simply because we love it – not because we’re trying out for the Olympics.  So why hold yourself to a standard that doesn’t fit your needs? 

 

I’m a runner.  I’m a runner who wants to do her personal best and loves to take walking breaks.  Maybe some people’s yardsticks wouldn’t deem me a runner, but I know that I am one.  After all, walking and working hard aren’t mutually exclusive!  Heck, I often end up faster overall because of regular walking breaks.  And I approach the finish line with a little extra gas in the tank, allowing me to do the “Whoo hoo!” sprint to the end – that’s always nice.

 

But much more importantly, walking calms me down and allows me to regroup.  I breathe deeply during my walking breaks and think about how I’m doing something great for my body and mind by exercising.  It’s hard for me to think about that while running because I’m exerting so much physical energy. 

 

But with walking – I can think.  And I like what I think about when I walk. Walking means that I enjoy running more, and therefore, I go running more often.  I run happy when I walk.  It doesn’t feel like a chore when I don’t force myself to measure up to someone else’s yardstick for what ‘running’ is all about.  Running feels like a joy when I do it from the heart, by my rules, following my standards for success.  And truthfully, so does the rest of my life.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts, too.

{ 57 comments }

 

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  • Jessica January 29, 2013, 8:59 pm

    Amen! Totally agree. About it all. DEF a runner if you take walking breaks and DEF about the yardstick thing. I think this has become a big issue for me as a new mom too ( the yardstick issue) and something I work through daily. Def going to blog about that soon. BUt re: if you are a runner, I think you are a runner if YOU think you are :)

    Reply
  • Alex @ Raw Recovery January 29, 2013, 9:02 pm

    This comes at the perfect time for me and I’m so grateful for what you wrote. I started training for a 5k back in December and over Christmas was hospitalized and almost needed a liver transplant. Since I left the hospital, I’ve noticed that my body isn’t bouncing back as fast as I wanted. Although I can see how I’m making progress and able to run farther before taking a walking break, I sometimes get frustrated because my lungs are having a tough go of it. Being in recovery from an eating disorder also makes it tricky, because I can fall into over-exercising and self-abuse easily. The yardstick is crucial for me because I now exercise to feel alive and confident. If that means I have to take a break to walk, then so be it. The feeling of accomplishment at the end is what I crave.

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  • Lauren @ Eat Like An Elephant January 29, 2013, 9:05 pm

    I’m a firm believer that walking works too. As someone that’s not a natural born runner, if I could never take walking breaks I would hate running because it would be something forced. Run slow, run fast, walk slow, walk fast, I think they’re all getting you out there and that’s what it’s about- getting outside, getting moving, and feeling good about yourself.

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    • Kristy January 29, 2013, 9:56 pm

      I completely agree!!

      Reply
  • Rebecca January 29, 2013, 9:13 pm

    I think you are a runner if you run any distance. And if you need to take a walking break on a run, you’re already going farther than those of us who don’t run.

    My dad does lots of 5Ks and marathons and tris and even did a half-IronMan and something ridiculously long which I can’t remember a length of but which he never wants to do again. I can guarantee you he stops to walk at least sometimes during a marathon at least, if not during his 5Ks if he really needs to. He’d still be a runner if he hadn’t convinced himself to up his distances from just 5Ks. I’m proud of him no matter what distance he runs, even if he has to walk part of it to finish. As long as he finishes, he’s pretty happy.

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  • Kristina January 29, 2013, 9:17 pm

    I ditched the “yardstick” thing a few years ago, and I’ve never felt better about myself. You can’t compare yourself to others, because we are all meant to take different paths. So be happy for your friends when they accomplish something. and have friends that do the same for you. This is one of the most important things I’ve learned so far. We all have our strengths and weaknesses, and it’s just not worth the mental struggle to compare. Christine, you are doing fabulously, and I’d cheer your walking any time. Hell, I walk most of the time! :)

    Reply
  • Katie @ Peace Love and Oats January 29, 2013, 9:18 pm

    I agree with what you’ve said: of you run you’re a runner, no matter anything else. Personally I don’t like to walk during runs because once I stop it’s hard to get going again!

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  • Jen January 29, 2013, 9:34 pm

    Love this!!!

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  • Jennifer @ Eat With Knowledge January 29, 2013, 9:35 pm

    Yes I love walking!! When I was really into running a few years ago I did way too much too soon and ended up getting injured. So walking is not only good for mental breaks I think it’s also good for your physical body- especially if you’re just starting out. And if you’re into HIIT walking breaks with speed running can actually end up burning more calories than just jogging. Don’t feel bad about walking– walking is awesome exercise!!

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  • Sara @ LovingOnTheRun January 29, 2013, 9:39 pm

    Walking breaks do not make you less of a runner! There is nothing wrong with it and I think it is great! It does not make you in any way less of a runner! I know just recently I did a HIIT workout that involved almost walking speads and I needed them in order to be able to finish out the workout! Walking is a great exercise!

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  • Anj January 29, 2013, 9:40 pm

    I have never commented on here before but I read every day…. I love your blog! :)
    I feel very strongly about this topic as I am a firm believer in walk breaks actually making you faster as you mentioned. I have run 9 full marathons and numerous halfs etc, and I ALWAYS take walk breaks for anything 10k or over. Taking walk breaks helped me to qualify for and run the Boston Marathon (at 35 years old and 2 kids). I tried once to run a half with no walk breaks just for research and the pace bunny had to literally scream at me to finish…it wasn’t pretty! :) So like it has been mentioned before anyone who gets out there day after day and puts in the effort is a runner. And maybe some of the “non-stoppers” might want to try to take a walk break or two, it just might make them faster. :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 29, 2013, 9:59 pm

      Thank you for reading everyday!

      Reply
  • Kristy January 29, 2013, 9:53 pm

    Hey Christine! I am a new runner too (started last February) and I just completed my first half marathon on Sunday using The Galloway Method. It’s a run/walk combo where you only have to focus on 2-6 minutes of running with a 1 minute walking break. I did the same distance as the winner who came in an hour before me and I am just as proud. No shame in the walking breaks: ESPECIALLY for the first time. As a new runner, I think you quickly feel the need to fit in and be faster, have perfect form, look the part etc. and I’ver been there (still am sometimes). But through my training I’ve learned to just do what works for me and not let the faster runners intimidate me. Just like Caitlin said- once we start comparing ourselves to others… we get all crazy! Good luck! It’s an amazing feeling of accomplishment to cross that finish line for the first time.

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  • Caroline January 29, 2013, 9:58 pm

    Yes- of course real runners walk! I love walking and feel that walking regularly (3-4 times a week) has definitely helped my fitness level. When I race (and train), I use a 3:1 ration (3 minutes running to 1 minute walk) and I really like that!

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  • Jamie January 29, 2013, 10:00 pm

    I certainly agree that you can take walking breaks and still be a ‘real’ runner. Take a few strides a week and you’re a real runner in my book! But, personally, walking breaks do not work for me. When I run, I get into a zone where all I am thinking about is the pattern of my breathing. Walking breaks that concentration and I have a hard time regaining it when I start up again.

    It’s so interesting to me how different running is for everyone. While for you, the free flow of thoughts that comes during walking breaks is enabling, for me it hinders.

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  • Leah January 29, 2013, 10:26 pm

    This is a very refreshing message. I definitely need reminders not to compare myself to others, and this is also encouraging to me to continue racing (I started running early last year and ran my first 5k in may). I felt a bit discouraged when training later in the year that I couldn’t keep running for more than 9 mins at a time and I was no faster.

    Reply
  • Kristina January 29, 2013, 10:43 pm

    Just chiming in here to say that posts like this are the reason I love your blog! :] That whole yardstick thing really speaks to me right now, so thank you for articulating what I was looking for!

    Reply
  • Callina January 29, 2013, 10:53 pm

    Really like your yardstick commentary. Here’s my conundrum, though: how do you allow yourself to draw inspiration from others, which I believe is a good thing, but not compare yourself to them? I think it can be hard to distinguish the two, at least it is for me.

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  • Cassandra F. January 29, 2013, 11:13 pm

    On the subject of yardsticks, I was just reading a few blogs about teaching reverence to kids, and oddly enough there were about a million LDS (Mormon) sites where this is apparently a big deal. I’m not Mormon, but I was curious so I read the dialogues of various parents. At one point, several people had been complaining about “that annoying family who doesn’t even seem to try to get their kids to sit in the pew and keep quiet.” One mom wrote in response, “God gives all of us a different yardstick to measure our different talents/callings. Be careful not to measure someone else by your yardstick. If you’re like me, and found to your surprise that you didn’t get the parenting yardstick, that you struggle to find a little joy in parenting each day, then it can be hard to do tasks that seem small to those for whom it comes more naturally.”

    I’m not religious personally, but I think it’s important to cultivate certain values and live up to them. And this woman’s response elicited so much compassion from me. How cool is it to think of your talents as your personal yardstick? It means you need to live up to them, which should naturally lead to reaching out with them. Love it!

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  • Kristen L January 29, 2013, 11:37 pm

    I honestly think this is one of my favorite posts ever. Some competition is good… you push yourself or a friend to a new level… but too much pressure from competition can be bad and cause bad feelings and poor performance. Being a runner (or anything else in this life — athlete, musician, chef, ect.) is all about what you make of it and putting time into something you love doing. Thanks for writing such a positive post.

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  • SteveinBerks January 30, 2013, 12:08 am

    I’m going to offer a different take on this. If you feel compelled to walk during a training run, it probably means that you are trying to run faster than your level of aerobic fitness permits. It means that you are exerting yourself anaerobically, which is fine for shorter distances, but for runs longer than 30 minutes or so, you will burn out. It will also lead to a muscular sugar deficit, which will hamper your training later in the week. I strongly recommend that you get yourself a heart rate monitor, and force yourself to run most long training runs between 60% and 80% of your max heart rate. Most women in the 30 to 40 range have a max heart rate of around 200 BPM, which means a training rate of no higher than about 159 — anything ober that and you risk going anaerobic. I’m a 40 year old guy with a max of 180, so I try not to go much over 142 or so. Max heart rates do differ person to person, so please be aware of that.

    A side benefit of this way is that aerobic exertion levels tend to burn more fat than more intense efforts. If you go anaerobic, you’re just burning sugars.

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    • Kim January 30, 2013, 1:30 pm

      Good comment – I’m reading Phil Maffetone’s Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing right now and it really emphasizes staying within the aerobic stuff. Pretty interesting stuff.

      That said, I think I will always enjoy walking breaks on long runs – for the mental aspect! I just seem to enjoy it more knowing I have these short, intermittent breaks. So maybe not ‘physically’ necessary, but mentally I enjoy it more, and that is valuable too :)

      Reply
  • Cate January 30, 2013, 12:30 am

    Yes! Love this post!
    It took me awhile to actually consider myself a runner, but looking back now, of course I was a runner when I started – I was out there running! It doesn’t matter if I take a few walk breaks or run big or small races. I enjoy running and I continue to run! :)

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  • Angela January 30, 2013, 1:41 am

    I love the idea that you become a runner when you attempt to be one. Everyone’s at their own pace and people have different abilities. Whether you’re walking or nt, as long as you’re doing your best you should be proud!

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  • Emma January 30, 2013, 3:52 am

    I absolutely love this post! It’s this exact positive outlook on things we all should try to have, all the time! I agree with everything you said 100% Caitlin!
    It’s all about what is good for yourself and all your accomplishments are amazing and something to be so very proud of! Whether it’s running a marathon or finally running for one whole minute without practically dying (like I managed to do this week!). I like taking running breaks while wlaking ;) It’s all good!

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  • Melissa January 30, 2013, 5:20 am

    I’m an aspiring runner and per Jeff Galloway, walking breaks are a very important part of training.

    http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/walk_breaks.html

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  • Megan January 30, 2013, 6:00 am

    This, by far, is probably one of my favorite posts that you’ve done Caitlin. When I first started running about 7 years ago, I was “gungho” and wanted to be “hardcore” and never stop to walk. I firmly believed that walking made me weak. Well, I ended up digging myself into a whole. I pushed myself to the max and ended up hurting myself, when maybe slowing down to the walk would have saved my body from injury AND my sanity. I was training for the Marine Corps 1/2 and full marathon at the time. Because of my silly thinking which led to my injury, I had to drop out.

    After that, I learned my lesson. And actually, having a baby (including the whole process of the pregnancy) taught me the importance of taking care of my body because now, someone else relies on me and relies on keeping myself healthy. The women’s body is an amazing thing. There is a reason that mother nature chose the woman to conceive and carry the baby until term. Because WE ARE STRONG. Walking doesn’t make you weak. Walking makes you SMART. Caitlin walks to collect herself and her thoughts. Some may walk to slow things down and take their surroundings in. Some walk because they’re pushing their 17 lb baby in a 25 pound jogging stroller and mommy doesn’t want to jostle the baby around as she pushes the stroller over a large crack in the sidewalk. And some may walk because these little walk breaks actually HELP your run.

    Taking brief, brisk walking breaks at scheduled intervals during a run lets the muscles recover enough to prevent run technique from falling apart near the end of each run. In short: you will feel in stronger and more controlled instead of struggling and sloppy.
    Walking also allows for greater overall exercise volume with less impact, while still providing many of the benefits of low intensity running.

    With that being

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  • Sara@fitcupcaker January 30, 2013, 7:44 am

    Thanks for posting this q&a… I was never a runner until last year when I trained for my first half marathon… I would walk all the time even when my friends blew right by me. My goal was to finish the run. As long as you have a goal for yourself and complete it then I think your golden!

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  • Kristy Doyle January 30, 2013, 8:05 am

    Everyone takes walking breaks!! I think the only time I don’t is when I’m running a race, and even a few races I have done it. I remember reading somewhere, and excuse me for lack of a source because it’s been a while, that people who take walking breaks don’t necessarily have slower paces than those who don’t, because the walking breaks give you a rest, allowing your running portions to be slightly faster. I’m not saying that slower paces make people less of a runner, either. If you run, you are a runner. I just think maybe that’s the issue people have with walking breaks sometimes. They beat themselves up because they are afraid their pace will suffer.

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  • Angela January 30, 2013, 8:16 am

    Better to be someone who takes walking breaks while running than ‘a real runner’ with a preventable injury.

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  • Madeline January 30, 2013, 8:24 am

    A good friend of mine recently BQ’d (with a super fast 3:03!) using a run walk training method. He is most DEFINITELY a runner!

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  • Margaret@WellnessCircle January 30, 2013, 8:25 am

    I do run once in a while because I’m more of a walker. If I can walk from one place to another I do walk. When I feel like running on a Sunday morning I’ll start it with taking a walk for a few minutes. For me walking is a healthy thing as well as running. :)

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  • Pip January 30, 2013, 8:25 am

    I am NOT a runner, so I firmly believe in walking breaks. I am trying to run more, but I know it just ain’t my thing. I LOVE walking, so I am not sure why it is so much harder for me to kick it up a notch, given I walk about a 13 minute mile (especially when heading for my morning train) but I have a mental barrier of thinking I hate running, when maybe I could like it?

    On yardsticks: as a 27 year old in a professional job I feel like I am constantly being measured up against the ‘success’ yardstick (we had a little tweet about this Caitlin!) of education – career – marriage – motherhood. It’s not a new, nor a unique set of feels, but I have to say, the past 6 months I’ve really felt torn about it all and found it hard to even know what I want, now or for the future. You seem to have it all figured out in that regard!

    Degree, ACA (like a CPA), worked abroad, bought a house, long term relationship – all good things and I feel like I have achieved a lot in my 27 years, but it still seems to come back to (even in the eyes of some extended family memebers) well, aren’t you a little old not to be married and at least have a plan of when you’re having kids.

    Urgh – I hate the yard stick!

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  • Hillary January 30, 2013, 8:27 am

    I definitely fluctuate on this, generally depending on whether I’m training for a race or not. Honestly, I do whatever my body feels comfortable with that day. Some days are better than others, and running double digits feels like a breeze. Some days a 5k makes me want to die, and I need to walk to get through it. I’m a very strong believer in listening to my body, and if my body needs a break, I’m happy to give it one!

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  • Allie January 30, 2013, 8:33 am

    This post was such a great reminder for me today. I am an extremely competitive, very type-A person, and so often I catch myself measuring my success by others’ yardsticks; either coming up short, or getting way too much enjoyment out of secretly “beating” others. It’s pretty unhealthy, but honestly it is the way I have always been. One of my resolutions this year is to be more secure in who I am, and just do MY best, rather than trying to be THE best at everything.

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  • Erin January 30, 2013, 8:47 am

    There is nothing wrong with walking breaks. I am a solid 10 minute miler, and there are tons of people who take walk breaks that pass me in races. It can absolutely make you faster.
    I try not to take walk breaks, because I loathe starting to run again. I have found that I can just run slower, and recover a little. I also focus on a body part that isn’t hurting at that moment; “my calves feel great right now”. Or focus on one element of running, like your arm swing. Slowing down and distracting myself a little usually make me feel better.

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  • Megan LH January 30, 2013, 8:48 am

    I love this. I know we all compare ourselves to others expectations too much but I LOVE the idea of the yardstick. Thanks for this, Caitlin. I’ve been lacking motivation in a lot of areas lately and this might be why. Gonna work on finding out what my personal yardstick is instead of those of others.

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  • Becca January 30, 2013, 9:00 am

    Love this! This is why I love reading your blog, Caitlin. All I’d like to add is that for some of us, particularly younger people, figuring out what YOUR yardstick is versus the yardsticks your parents, friends, partner, or colleagues make for us can be really hard. I think it can be really hard after growing up with all these expectations and standards to figure things out. Isn’t that what your 20s are about? I know I’m trying hard, fighting day in and day out to figure out what my standards for myself are. To figure out what I think is okay, what I want. It’s hard. And ultimately, I think taking it “easy” on yourself while you figure out your own yardstick is really important. If that means some running breaks or some training walks instead of runs, that’s fine.

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  • Amanda January 30, 2013, 9:01 am

    Caitlin, I have been an avid reader of your blog for a very long time. It’s posts like this that keep me reading. You provide advice and encouragement to all of your readers, never making them feel like they aren’t accomplished b/c they don’t run an 8-min mile (or take walking breaks!). Thank you for your constant support and encouragment!

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  • Army Amy* January 30, 2013, 9:03 am

    After I completed my first marathon, a coworker asked me, “Did you run the whole time?” Heck no! When he heard that he told me, “Then you can’t say you ran a marathon.” This from a guy who couldn’t run 3 miles, much less 26.2. I paid him no mind.

    I typically take walking breaks during my races, (I have yet to master the act of drinking water or eating gu while running), so I take walk breaks in training. It’s so much easier for me to stay motivated when I know that I can take a break. After walking, I feel more energized. Take walk breaks! Don’t beat yourself up about it!*

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  • Barbara January 30, 2013, 9:25 am

    I think this was a great post. I love the yardstick idea.

    Personally, I hate taking breaks during runs. However, sometimes I do feel like a walk is necessary, and in those cases I just don’t count the “walking distance” as part of my run distance, but only when I’m really training for something and keeping track of distance ran.

    I think that as I get older I will appreciate the walking breaks more. :)

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  • Laura @ My Pink Thumb January 30, 2013, 10:21 am

    There is absolutely NOTHING wrong with taking walk breaks while running! Last spring I actually adopted regular 1 minute walk breaks at 5 minute intervals while training for a 10K. I went into the race knowing that I would run via the same method. And even with all of those walking breaks, I actually got a PR and even felt like I could have kept going after the finish line!! :)

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  • Nicole January 30, 2013, 10:28 am

    I’m a huge fan! A big thing that comes to mind is the treadmill neighbor at the gym trying to check out how long you’ve been running and the milage you’ve covered. Keep your head up, Christine! My two cents is to do what makes you feel good at the end of your run. If you finish a workout and walked and don’t feel good about yourself BECAUSE of walking, next time try shortening your stride so significantly that you’re still running, but tricking your body. You can catch your breath and your thoughts, but you’re still technically not “walking”. I personally like to do this because I find that walking makes it harder for me to start running again. When I do end up walking, though, it’s usually the very last leg of my run and I use the walk as a cooldown and reflection. Every runner is different, that’s what makes it so fun! The important thing is being happy with your workouts and yourself and being okay with how you’re progressing. Good luck at your half!

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  • Sonia the Mexigarian January 30, 2013, 11:11 am

    I have a love hate relationship with running. And I compare myself a lot to others which I know I shouldn’t do, but it’s hard for me not to. But when you get down to the nitty gritty, I’m a runner. I’m out there, I’m moving myself forward, I’m running and I’m walking. I cross that finish line, whether mental or physical, no matter what. Walking is a part of running. You had to start somewhere right?

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  • Angie January 30, 2013, 12:01 pm

    When I first read the question, I had an answer already constructed in my head, but now it’s just a re-sounding DITTO to what you posted.
    I completely agree. I have found that I am my own worst enemy and have yet to find someone who holds me to a higher level than I hold myself. This has brought me much academic and career success, but has also been the recipe for anxiety, stress and overall crazy making.
    I took a year off from long distance running because it stopped being fun for me, it became another chore and like a second job. When I eased up on myself, I finally found the passion again. I am barely able to run 5 miles right now, and this includes walk breaks, but I have found a new peace with being the best me, where I currently am, and not comparing myself to others or even my past self.

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  • Lisa January 30, 2013, 12:04 pm

    When I first started running seriously, I put a lot of pressure on myself to NOT run. I thought it meant failure or lack of running abilities, etc. Several running injuries later…I learned to listen to my body and lighten up on the expectations!

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  • Stellina @ My Yogurt Addiction.com January 30, 2013, 12:12 pm

    Interesting topic…I take walking breaks if I need to. I try to improve by not taking as many but I think that a walking break that enables me to continue running is better than running non-stop and not being able to travel the distance!

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  • Lauren @ The Unlikely Runners January 30, 2013, 1:33 pm

    GREAT POST! I think you totally nailed it with talking about the yardstick and how you measure yourself. And who created that yardstick by which you measure yourself is very important. If it’s you that created that yardstick for yourself then I think you have a higher chance of succeeding and feeling accomplished. If you constantly let others define that yardstick for you then you will more than likely always fall short of that stick. Thanks for your open and honest opinions and I think you did a fabulous job of shedding light on such a hard issues runners and athletes alike face and that’s peer pressure!

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  • Christin@christinjoyful January 30, 2013, 1:41 pm

    Thank you so much for this post…It was a topic very near and dear to my own heart! I have always struggled with the idea of feeling like a failure when I have to stop and walk, thinking I just couldn’t cut it. I kept wondering why I could dance nonstop, dripping sweat for an hour and a half, but when it came to running I couldn’t go more than a mile or two without walking. This really helps put it all in perspective. Sending you a big hug!

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  • BeepieRuns January 30, 2013, 2:46 pm

    So this is interesting to me because I would usually say that walking breaks aren’t helping you be a better runner. However, this week I’ve been sick and because I’m training for Boston, I can’t afford to take the time off. But, dripping snot doesn’t lend itself to fast (or even consistent) running. So today on my tempo run I did take a couple of walk breaks. And surprise, surprise I was able to keep my pace up and finish the run feeling strong. So now I don’t know. I do feel that when I’m running a race that walking is “cheating” but during training it’s probably fine. I’m gonna think some more on this!

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  • Ruby Leigh January 30, 2013, 3:30 pm

    Great Post – nail on the head!

    I think the compare game is dangerous and defeating. We won’t get better if we dwell on how much ‘worse’ we are. I have a friend who completed a marathon by running 1 min/ walking 1 min repeat. It took her 6 hr 45 min. Maybe some people wouldn’t call it running per say, but it’s still an accomplishment. I just find it impressive that someone could keep going that long.

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  • Meg January 30, 2013, 4:14 pm

    I think it’s important to think about WHY you need a walking break. Most often I want them because I’m bored or my mind is talking me out of something my body is totally capable of. I think about the fact that I’ll be done faster if I keep up running and that taking a walking break makes it harder to start back up and easier to continue to take walking breaks when my body is totally capable of just running. It helps me keep moving. A valuable thing I learned in GOTR is pacing and if you have to slow down, slow down, but keep moving forward! I tend to fake it til I make it…push myself a little harder than I maybe want to and then on race day I’m pleasantly surprised by what my body does for me!

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  • Marissa Lucero January 30, 2013, 9:32 pm

    I catch myself dealing with the “yardstick” multiple times a day. It’s so easy to get caught up in society’s standards, in your own standards.

    I consider myself a very competitive person, and your comment about being competitive never really being beneficial really resonated with me. It’s SO TRUE. I had never thought about it, but competing with someone puts so much unneeded stress on me… and for what? Nothing. It’s not helping me, or anyone. Thank you so much for this post!!

    Reply
  • brooke @ sweats & sweets January 30, 2013, 9:41 pm

    For me, to be a runner means you need to realize when to push and when to hold back. You can take breaks, thats great! Not listening to your body makes you a “non-runner” in my mind. Runners want to be healthy, they want to ensure their bodies are in tip-top shape and that means being smart about your body. I love walk breaks, it allows a minor cool down so I don’t injure myself and I still see myself as a runner. I think all runners walk, at some point because there is a limit to oneself.

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  • Kattrina January 31, 2013, 12:48 pm

    This reminds me of my favorite quotes from John Bingham:

    “If you run, you are a runner. It doesn’t matter how fast or how far. It doesn’t matter if today is your first day or if you’ve been running for twenty years. There is no test to pass, no license to earn, no membership card to get. You just run.”

    “I am a runner because I run. Not because I run fast. Not because I run far. I am a runner because I say I am. And no one can tell me I’m not.”

    Great quotes to live by!

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  • Rita January 31, 2013, 3:12 pm

    I love the way you answer this question. I’m from Mexico and here it’s very difficult to train outside every day, so I have to stick to the treadmill every day. And I’m always thinking that I should not walk since there is someone by my side on the other treadmills and must think that I’m weak or something. I’m actually aslo training for my first half marathon in NYC and knowing that it’s ok to walk every now and then was a huge relive. Thank you so much. I love your blog.

    Reply
    • Caitlin January 31, 2013, 3:51 pm

      Thank you!

      Reply

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