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I’ve been a fan of the walk/run method for a long time.  For me, I find that it’s more enjoyable, maintainable, and fun than forcing myself to slog through mile after mile – and I hate the idea of emotionally beating myself up for daring to slow down.  I have truly EMBRACED THE WALK. 

 

It hurts my running heart to hear people say, “Oh, I feel so EMBARRASSED when I take walking breaks!”  There is nothing embarrassing about taking a walking break – and I believe that you’re still a “runner” if you walk. 

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#1:  Understand that walk/run intervals can actually make you faster overall.  Walking breaks can make you faster, mile by mile.  That’s because walking allows you to recover and inject energy into your run intervals.  Your mile times may be faster overall WITH breaks than without!  And this is true for a wide variety of paces, whether you’re gunning for a 12 minute per mile or a much faster time.  Heck, my friend Janae just ran a 3:29:13 marathon AND qualified for the Boston Marathon AND she took multiple walking breaks during the race.

 

#2:  Download a walk/run app.  Walk/run is a really great way to increase distance, too.  So if you’re stuck at 2 miles but would like to go further, try walk/running the 3rd mile.  If you are the type of person who prefer some guidance during a workout, I suggest you download the Couch to 5K App <— here’s a complete review of the app.  In general, I like the C25K program because it really reinforces the idea that there is nothing wrong with walking – part of being positive about walking during running is surrounding yourself with people who also love the method!

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#3:  Pick a point to run to – and don’t stop until you get there.  While I used the C25K app to get back in shape after the birth of Henry, now I walk/run in a less structured way.  What I would recommend is that you DON’T start walking simply because you’re struck by the urge to take a break.  When I feel the need to walk, I pick a point a few hundred feet in front of me – like a lamp post or the end of the block – and I try to run to that point.  If you always stop to walk the moment you feel tired, you won’t improve your endurance as quickly than if you motivate yourself to go a BIT further.

 

#4: Pick a point to stop walking and start running around – and start five feet before.  Once you stop to walk, pick another point – the point you’ll start running again.  When I approach the point, I try to start running again right before the point. 

 

#5: Walk smart.  Maximize your run intervals by walking smart.  Don’t waste your walking breaks on the downhills.  I like to walk up hills and when I’m in really sunny spots (so I can run the flats or downhills and in the shade).  During races, I time my walks so I can walk through water stations.

 

#6:  Don’t apologize for walking.  And last, but not least, try to drop the “I’m not a runner if I walk” attitude!  Like I said before, lots of really, really fast runners take walking breaks!  A very wise blogger once said to me, “Don’t compare your behind-the-scenes film to someone else’s highlights rolls.”  Everyone has ups and downs while running, and all that really matters is that you’re out there, trying your hardest and doing your best.  A lot of this goes back to the issue of Compare, But Be Fair <— a nice reminder to be gentle with yourself. 

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Are you a fan of the walk/run?  Or do you hate to take walking breaks?  Clearly, I love my walking breaks, but I have some friends who refuse to take them, not because they think there is anything wrong with it, but because they say it makes their legs hurt so much to walk/run/walk/run!  Glad I don’t have that problem.  Smile

{ 34 comments }

 

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  • Traci June 17, 2014, 10:56 am

    People are embarrassed to take walking breaks? Obviously my runner friends are more like you. I’m more of a runner than a walker anyway, so I’m all about the breaks. Great list though!

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  • Lauren | Breathe & Nourish June 17, 2014, 10:59 am

    I’m a huge fan of walking and also of walking breaks. When I trained and completed my two half marathons, walking breaks were really what kept me training. If I didn’t allow myself walking breaks I probably would have given up! Walking is the best and helps you push through, eventually making you stronger.

    I’m also all about just walking for the sake of walking. I think our culture has poo-pooed walking which has discouraged a lot of us from even incorporating movement into our lives since we may not be able to or enjoy other types of movement. We need to applaud and recommend walking so much more! I went for a walk this morning and I feel so great.

    Reply
  • Kaella (KaellaOnTheRun) June 17, 2014, 11:15 am

    I used the C25 program after the birth of my son as well and LOVED the walking breaks. I don’t take them anymore. I am hoping to do a marathon next year and imagine they will be part of my training though! GREAT post!!

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  • Lisa June 17, 2014, 11:35 am

    The RUN 10K app is really really awesome. I like it because you can have it running in the background while using pandora, or with your phone in sleep mode while running. I have had others that stop when you close the app. Its walk/run training app.

    I can complete 6 miles using it but my boyfriend refuses to do it with me because he says its so hard for him to start running again. NOT ME:) On the downside, it makes it quite disheartening when i cant run 2 miles straight when i run with him. I rather run/walk for 60 mins than run for 20 mins because I’m burnt out.

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  • Amber @ Busy, Bold, Blessed June 17, 2014, 11:50 am

    This is such a timely post! I’m trying to get back into running and I am definitely a fan of the run/walk method. Forcing myself to push through feeling crappy just seems like a turn off. If I’m enjoying my runs by utilizing walk breaks, I know I’ll be more likely to stick to it.

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  • Amanda at Diary of a Semi-Health Nut June 17, 2014, 11:59 am

    I wholeheartedly agree with this post! I always take walking breaks and I feel like the break allows me to run faster when I am running. Great tip to not just stop when you’re tired though!

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  • Hannah June 17, 2014, 11:59 am

    I love this idea and really appreciate hearing advice from an experienced runner that makes me, a non-experienced runner, feel like I fit in the group.

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  • Ashley June 17, 2014, 12:48 pm

    I love walk breaks! I’m trying to get back into running again and the method i’m using is setting my watch for 1 minute intervals and I switch off 1 minute of running with 1 min of walking. And then when I get tired, I say “come on, it’s only 1 minute of running! I can do that!” :)

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  • Rachel @ MarathonRunningMedic June 17, 2014, 12:56 pm

    I am SO totally a run-walker! I have to! I get such bad reflux if I try to run while taking in fuel or water that I have to walk for about a minute or so to make sure everything gets down and stays down. I also run/walk the first couple miles when I’m first warming up because my legs usually get kind of grumpy. I would love to be able to actually run ridiculous distances without my walking breaks, but I’m not embarrassed by them… And I’m totally inspired that Janae got a BQ with walking breaks! :-)

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  • Sarah June 17, 2014, 2:52 pm

    I love walking breaks, especially early on my long runs. It takes me a couple of miles to really warm up and feel good about running. I’ll take more walk breaks during that time, then I usually feel good running continuously for the remainder.

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  • ChristineB June 17, 2014, 5:16 pm

    I just completed my first half marathon (in 2:06! totally surprised myself on that one) using 9 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals. When training I considered trying to eliminate my walking intervals, but I find walking a great mental break, a wonderful opportunity to adjust anything I’m wearing (including cleaning my glasses, especially if it’s raining) and a great time to take my gels, besides giving my body a little break. I always try to walk as briskly as possible, but if I’m having a tough time, it feels good knowing that break is coming up.

    I have no qualms at all walking periodically when running or racing. I figure I’m already doing something that a relatively small portion of the population does, and I’ve never encountered a runner that has thought my intervals were a bad idea – I love how supportive other runners are of each other. And if non-runners look down on me because of my intervals, who cares? If they don’t run they have no idea what they’re talking about anyway.

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  • Lisa June 17, 2014, 5:40 pm

    Oh man, it makes me sad too that people beat themselves up for taking walking breaks – I mean come on, you’re out there working hard, be proud of yourself! I personally don’t take too many walking breaks, but this is mostly because of what you mentioned at the end of your post, slowing down and then speeding back up feels hard on my legs and nagging back injury. I feel a lot better if I just maintain a comfortable pace throughout – nothing worse that being in the final mile of a long run and having to stop for a stop light…how will I ever get going again!

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  • Shelly June 17, 2014, 5:46 pm

    I always take the winter off of running, so I have to always start back at run/walk every spring. I sometimes feel bad about it – only because I’m training for Ragnar Relay and my times are really slow right now. I don’t want to let my team down! However, I know that I need to keep the walk breaks while I build up my endurance, and my times will speed up with that as well.

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  • Polly @ Tasty Food Project June 17, 2014, 5:53 pm

    I’m not a fast runner and I’m still working on building my endurance so I enjoy taking running breaks. I don’t ever feel embarrassed because everyone’s fitness level is different. I enjoyed this post!

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  • Bre & Ree June 17, 2014, 6:45 pm

    This is a great post, because I absolutely believe in the run/walk method! The marathon training program I use applies the run/walk for the long runs. For example, if I need to run 2 hours one morning, the training says to run 75% of two hours leaving me to pick and choose when I need to stop to walk. I find it incredibly helpful and I’ve become a faster runner because of it. Thanks for sharing and spreading the word of its benefits!
    ~Bre

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  • kwithme June 17, 2014, 9:25 pm

    This a good reminder. I have been coming back from stress fractures in both feet for about a year now. The past year has been tough and I finally ended up at physical therapy for form issues. I “started” running again about 6-8 weeks ago and I am run/walking. I have been giving myself pep talks about it because I do feel like I am not a “true” runner. But that is all me and not anyone else saying it. I am trying to reframe it so I feel successful after each run and not like I am failing to measure up to before my injuries.

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  • Leah June 17, 2014, 10:13 pm

    I learned to run and love running by using the walk/run method. I got to a point where I wanted to run without stopping and found I was not any faster and sometimes slower on total time. So I always use the walk run method, sometimes using my interval watch.

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  • Lacey June 17, 2014, 11:52 pm

    Would you mind sharing which C25K app you used? I just went to download one and tons came up :-\

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    • Caitlin June 18, 2014, 7:50 am

      Check out the link in the post!

      Reply
  • Breanne June 17, 2014, 11:53 pm

    Sometimes I can’t take (well can’t let myself take) walking breaks because my legs see that rest and fatigue way too quickly when I hit my run interval. I’ll end up walking the whole time. My fastest half marathon was a planned walk/run combo though.

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  • Runner Girl Eats June 18, 2014, 6:29 am

    thanks for this! It is hard to remember sometimes that a walking break is ok. I especially need to take these breaks during the summer when temps and humidity make it hard to keep my usual pace.

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  • Laura@SneakersandSpatulas June 18, 2014, 8:41 am

    I don’t normally take walking breaks when running. I find it harder to keep running if I stop to walk. I do run with my dog though so we normally have a few untimed stops when we run by a body of water so she can play in it for a few minutes to cool down when it’s hot. I did take walking breaks during my first HIM a few weeks ago and felt no shame/guilt! A ton of people were walking at that point!

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  • Diana June 18, 2014, 10:25 am

    My favorite example is of a (very experienced) runner in my community who ran back to back marathons, two weekends in a row. The first she ran until she NEEDED to walk. She finished the race pretty spent and with intervals of running and forced walks. The second marathon she did a prescribed run/walk interval and finished the second marathon with a better time! Run/walk is such an effective way for some people to run.

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  • Aerevyn June 18, 2014, 10:50 am

    Love, love, love this post.

    When I started out jogging, I was *very* overweight and unfit. So in my head, walking breaks were because you weren’t able to run. When I read the website of a marathon coach who had been to the Olympics and who advocated run/walk, the lightbulb went on for me. So awesome to realize! : )

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  • Miki English June 18, 2014, 10:59 am

    Your post today was a great reminder that exercise (of any type) is about me, and not about what other people think of me. Instead of saying we’re going for a “run”, my husband and I do what we call “walk, run, jogs”. Neither of us are great runners, but the interval training is fun and feels good. We don’t use an app (although we’ve used Ct5K in the past) and just set targets in the distance to jog or sprint to. This was a great post, thank you!

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  • Carina June 18, 2014, 2:45 pm

    I don’t think Janae’s race is exactly the kind of walk-run that you’re talking about, not a good example of the walk-run method. She’s an insanely awesome runner, and I don’t know more than she says on her blog, but due to various things it sounds like she had a tough race and finished about half an hour off her goal, doing a 10 min mile pace with walking for the last several miles. That does not get you a sub-3:30 and a BQ, she only got that sub-3:30 because she had a 7:05 pace (on target for a 3:00 finish) for the first half, before she was walking. Just a poor example choice, you make it sound like it was intentional and consistent walking, while she was actually training to run a 3:00 without walk breaks. I def think walk-run works well, but most walk-run methods say walk breaks throughout, not just at the end when you’re crashing and burning — if that was really walk-run, then about 65% of marathoners would probably count as doing walk-run because lots of people walk some after they hit the wall. Maybe Galloway is a better example? Just thought it was a bit misleading.

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    • Susie June 18, 2014, 8:17 pm

      Agreed! Thinking the same thing Carina.

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    • Whitney June 19, 2014, 8:28 am

      I have to agree with Carina! No way HRG had plans on walking the last few miles to BQ. I followed her training for her marathon and it was never mentioned that she was using the walk-run method to achieve the time goal she wanted. :)

      Reply
  • Angie June 18, 2014, 5:12 pm

    I SO needed to read this today! I’m back at it after months off after surgery for Crohn’s disease. Packed on almost 40 lbs on my current medications and it’s so discouraging to not have the stamina I once had. Thanks so much for reaffirming my efforts!

    Reply
  • Erin June 18, 2014, 5:36 pm

    Trying to get myself from 5k to 1/2, so this is really helpful information!

    Reply
  • Heather June 19, 2014, 4:50 pm

    I have trouble taking walking breaks, it makes my legs sore. I wish I could though, my husband does and he is always able to go faster than me!

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  • Gregkumar June 23, 2014, 8:20 am

    Hi Caitlin Boyle,

    I love your site and what you’re doing to educate people interested in Walking Break . I’m also very interested in Walking Break and found some great videos that helped me learn quite a bit more on the subject. Check them out when you get a chance, I think you and your readers will appreciate them too. http://www.viddy-up.com/learn-howto/health-fitness/

    Have a great day,
    Greg

    Reply