There is a big difference between running and racing. This became an issue for me when listening to a fellow marathon runner. He argued that no one should walk while running. His argument was that walking during runs negated the reasons for running.
I disagreed and here is why. 1. Walking helps runners extend the distance and time, we spend running. 2. It is in my opinion a form of interval training. Interval training is the idea of stressing the heart and allowing it to recover, then stressing it again. This helps to make the heart more efficient. 3. Finally because there are periods of rest and we know that rest is coming, we mentally will push a little harder during our run periods.
The old adage "No pain; no gain" is false. The goal for the majority of us is to exercise the body...few of us will ever run to win a gold medal in the Olympic Games.
This past year, I turned 50 and one of my goals for the year was to run 5 marathons. Please note the "run" part of that. The goal was to run...not race. What surprised me was by using this method and controlling my pace, I was able to run 3 of these in a span of 36 days. On the 27th of April, I ran the Big Sur Marathon in 4:59...my goal was 5 hours. Then about 20 some days later on the 17 May, I ran the Palos Verde Marathon in 4:39...my goal was 4:40. Finally on 1 June, down in San Diego, I ran the Rock-n-Roll Marathon in 4:20...my goal...4:20.
The reason was the control that I exercised by using the run walk cycle...my pace really didn't change. At Big Sur, I ran 1 minute walked 1 minute cycle for the first half of the race and then I ran 4 minutes walked 1 minute for the last half of the race. In Palos Verde, I used the 4 minute/1 minute cycle through the entire race. The 20 minute difference was not because of speed but because I cut back a little on the rest. Then in San Diego, the 20 minute was again not my pace but the rest. In this last race I used a 9 minute/1 minute ratio. For more information on this method check out Jeff Galloway’s Running: A year round plan. (Pages 18-22).
Now a quick note on racing: Racing is ...pushing to beat someone or something else. It is racing when you are working to better your previous time or you are trying to beat another runner. Walking breaks maybe what keeps you from winning that battle...but then again...it maybe what helps you win. In a short one mile or two mile race, could you imagine what a one minute walking break would do to an Olympic runner? They would be lapped by everyone else in the field, because of the level of competition. But if I'm taking a quick walking break every other mile in a Marathon race the difference maybe at the end only a matter of inches because my competitor may have hit the wall hard at 20 miles and struggled to finish...and I having that little extra, pass him in the last mile.
It has to do with personality, goals and determination. For the majority of us, our little walking breaks only serve to make us better runners. So keep on running and take a minute every now and then to smell the roses.