As I rehab my way back to running full-time, I’ve rediscovered the value of walking as part of my running program. While walking can seem slow since runners are used to a faster pace, walking can provide almost as much of a workout as a run.
1. Walk on rest days.
As I get older, I find staying active daily keeps my body working better. I stiffen up if I sit too long, plus sitting can create its own issues. Right now, I walk on my rest days – Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I’m out every single day at the same time making it easier for me to stick to my workout routine. Getting up and moving in the morning helps my body feel better for the rest of the day.
If you can’t get out for a 30 minute walk in the morning, break your walk up into 10 minute increments during the day. You can use these 10 minute walks to help you avoid sitting for too long which carries its own health risks. Using a pedometer like Fitbit One Wireless Activity Plus Sleep Tracker, Burgundy can help you track your steps if you doing your walking in short sessions over the course of a day.
2. Walk as part of increasing your long distance run.
When I first started increasing my long distance run once a week, I thought I could just add on mileage. What worked better for me during the run and the recovery afterwards was slowing down. Since I struggled a bit with slowing my pace down without feeling like I was crawling, walking for a minute during each mile did the trick. I slowed down my pace overall, and felt better the next day.
Right now, I have been using my Sunday run/walk to slowly get myself back to longer distance running. My overall goal is to go for a longer time, like an hour or more, with lots of walking and a little running. Once I have my regular runs back up to 3 miles of running, I’ll work on reducing the walking time and increasing the running time for the weekly long run.
3. Walk during injury rehabilitation.
When we can’t run because of injury, it can seem like the end of the world. Walking is a low-impact way to maintain most of our current fitness level while waiting for an injury to heal. As I work on increasing my running mileage slowly, I do 2 minutes of walking with 4 minutes of running 5 times during my workout. In between, I walk hilly routes in my town pushing myself to walk faster.
When I had shin splints, walking was a way to continue exercising while I waited for my shins to heal. I also spent time stretching my calf muscles and working the front part of my shin by writing the alphabet on the floor with my foot.
4. Walk hills or hike to build the glutes.
As my physical therapist has told me over and over again, runners tend to neglect their glutes and core body strength when strengthening their bodies for running. While walking hills or hiking in the woods won’t build muscles overnight, it will help build up the weaker glutes helping you avoid injury in the long run.