Why you should walk during a marathon

Why you should walk during a marathon

When people sign up for a marathon they usually have a goal of running the whole race. It turns out, that walking during the race may actually help you finish strong. In fact, according to a new study, amateur runners who walked for part of the race had times similar to those who ran the whole time.

A group of German runners who ran between 6 to 12 miles per week participated in a three month marathon training program. Then they were divided into two groups for the race. One group ran the entire time and the other walked for one minute every 1.5 miles. Those who ran the entire race finished an average of only seven minutes faster than the group that walked. According to researchers, that time difference is not statistically significant.

In addition, those who walked also had less muscle pain and less fatigue. Forty percent of those in the running only group reported extreme exhaustion compared to five percent of those who walked.

Erin Holland is a personal trainer at the Good Samaritan Health and Wellness Center and has completed the Chicago Marathon seven times. For her first marathon in 2004, she followed a training plan where she walked a mile and ran a mile for the entire race. Then for her second marathon in 2005 she ran the entire time. Her time for the 2004 marathon was 26 seconds faster than her time in 2005.

“I highly recommend this approach to new runners,” said Holland. “I use this approach with new running clients all the time. Now that I am a veteran marathon and have ran them so consistently over the last ten years, I have a much more laid back approach to running.”

Holland offers these tips for new runners to follow:

  • Join a running group. Running can be monotonous and it can be helpful to have someone to hold you accountable.
  • Keep a running log. Document your food intake, daily mileage, run times and your feelings before, during and after your runs.
  • Gradually increase your mileage each week by 10 percent … Don’t do too much too soon.
  • Run 3-4 times per week.  For more people, the more consistently you run, the easier it becomes.
  • Allow for 1-2 days off for complete rest.  It’s really important to allow your body to recover so your muscles can get stronger and to prevent injury.
  • Alternate a hard run with an easy run or a day of rest.
  • Consider cross training to prevent overuse injuries.
  • Most importantly, listen to your body!  When your body says rest, rest.  When you feel great, have a great run!

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One Comment

  1. And, avoid running on hard surfaces like concrete. Running on hard surfaces puts undue stress on knees, ankles and feet and can lead to orthopedic problems later in life.

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health enews Staff
health enews Staff

health enews staff is a group of experienced writers from our Advocate Aurora Health sites, which also includes freelance or intern writers.