One of the things I love about the sport of running is that there is a place for every one. There is no rule that says you have to run a certain pace, distance, or amount of time to be considered a runner. In fact, one of my past fave posts is a great reminder that as long as you get out the door and run, you are a runner.
No other sport that I can think of really embraces all levels, ages, and abilities like running. Races have a spot for everyone and there are different types of events to fit the needs of just about any type of runner. There are qualifying races and Boston for those who are looking for a more competitive event. Most races acknowledge the top three overall as well as age group placers. But many races also hand out medals to acknowledge all finishers. There are also fun events like color runs and costumed races that have a nice recreational vibe.
Since this sport embraces just about everyone, it is also great to embrace different goals. One of my favorite ways to get new runners involved in the sport is to use the run/walk method. This approach has been made popular by coaches like Jeff Galloway who is known to lead run/walk groups at Disney races and other events.
What I love most about run/walk plans is that you can make it as structured or unstructured as you desire. For the very beginner it is a perfect starting point to get a few minutes (or even just one) of running in and then allow your body some recovery time as you walk. For the runner who is trying to improve their pace or distance, this is a great way to set interval goals and over time increase the running time and decrease walking breaks.
Either way, this is a wonderful concept that allows any athlete to approach the sport in a far less overwhelming direction. Breaking a run up into sections of running and walking allows you to look at parts of the whole as opposed to attacking a workout as one giant run.
I have many athletes who use the run/walk plan as their everyday approach to running. They prefer to stick to planned out intervals such as 5 minutes of running followed by a 1-2 minute walk break. Many of them have done multiple full and half marathons this way and have found great success. Some choose to use this approach because they just plain prefer this method. Others do it because they have various health issues and this allows their body to handle longer runs better.
The other great part of this plan is that it can be a way to continue training during injuries. Sometimes our bodies need a break but our training doesn’t completely allow for a full rest. Under certain circumstances this approach can allow your body to handle distances better and also take some of the impact off of your muscles and joints. I also like to use this when an athlete has had to take a few weeks off during a training session and is looking to get back on plan. It is a fantastic way to come back into their training without pushing the body too hard. When they just need the time on their feet and to fit in the mileage, this is a great way to ease back into training.
If you are interested in getting started with a running plan, I highly recommend taking a look online and doing some research on run/walk plans. Take a look at Jeff Galloway’s website which is a great resource. Runner’s World also has a fantastic 8 week Beginner’s Run/Walk Plan . Both of these are great options and I am certain you can find many more with a quick search on the internet.
Do you use the run/walk method? What is your preferred approach?