By Myra “MeeMee” Taylor
Last year I was happily training for my very first 5k until 2 weeks before the big race a nagging knee pain suddenly became excruciating. A physical therapist delivered the bad news – my right leg was not strong enough to support me running the entire 5k. Nooooooo! All those weeks of training gone down the drain! I was heartbroken. Then he made a suggestion that would change my whole running program. He told me I could still do the race, but I would have to do the Run/Walk Method. It’s when you repeatedly run a short segment with walk breaks, like run 5 minutes then walk for 1 minute (or any ratio you choose). Intervals, basically. I immediately rejected the idea. Isn’t running supposed to be about…running? And won’t experienced runners look down on me if I don’t run the whole course? And won’t I be a total failure? I completely changed my mind after I learned the benefits of the Run/Walk Method:
Faster Recovery – Continuously running fatigues your muscles. Run/Walk has less of an impact on your body. According to running guru, Jeff Galloway, taking walk breaks gives your muscles time to recover and can actually reduce your chance of injury. This means you can go further for longer and reduce post-run soreness.
Mental Advantage – Active.com says that walk breaks help you break up a challenging workout. You’ve heard the way to eat an elephant is one bite at a time. You can finish a half marathon or a full marathon one run/walk segment at a time!
Modify Your Strategy Mid-Run: One of my friends was running a marathon when she suddenly had to stop. Unfortunately, once she stopped, her fatigued legs would not let her start running again. Stopping is not a deal breaker when you use the run/walk method. In fact, you can easily modify your ratio mid-run if you need to. Instead of running a 4/2 ratio, you can modify it to a 2/2 without penalty from your body.
After doing the prescribed exercises, my right leg is much stronger now. However, I still choose to do the run/walk method. If you prefer running and your body can handle it – go for it! But if you can’t, you don’t have to feel ashamed! The Run/Walk Method is totally legit and may be better for you in the long run.
Myra “MeeMee” Taylor is a proud member of the BGR-Los Angeles Chapter. Check out her humorous blog, www.cheapskate-a-holic.com, for tips on saving money and her short story “Lavender Sheets” in the sci-fi anthology The Memory Eater available on Amazon.com.