1) It Is Ok To Take a Walking Break.
Even competitive long-distance runners take walking breaks. The walking break is not a sign of weakness, it is a moment of rest that allows you to recharge and push hard on your next interval of running. This could allow for better, more sustainable progress in both running speed and duration.
Running Coach Jenny Hadfield, coauthor of Marathoning for Mortals, promotes walking as a way to run further. "Walking reduces the impact forces on the muscles, joints, and tendons, and reduces breathing rate and heart rate. So, runners are able to cover more distance with better form and alignment, at a reduced risk of fatigue."
A 2013 study entitled Walking, Running, and Resting Under Time, Distance, and Average Speed Constraints: Optimality of Walk–Run–Rest Mixtures concluded that steady running may not always be optimal, but instead, that the run-walk mix could conserve energy in adults and children.
Finally, the run/walk method may not impede your performance time! In a study conducted by the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport, researchers found that non-elite runners achieved similar marathon times when running nonstop as when they incorporated the run/walk method of taking “walking breaks”. These “regular walking breaks in your race can bring you to the finish line at the same pace as if you ran the entire way — while doing a lot less damage to your body.
2) Running Is Not Just Running.
Self-care is essential to prime your body for running and keeping it healthy. Even beginner runners should know how to warm-up, cool down, stretch, and troubleshoot setbacks.
According to Runner’s World Jennifer Van Allen, if you don’t take the time to warm up, you risk ending the run prematurely. “If you start out too fast, you run the risk of pulling a muscle, tweaking a tendon, bone, or joint, or getting into a pace that you can't sustain. The result? You end up slowing down and burning out before you're done with your workout. The worst part is that you’re likely to end your run feeling exhausted, discouraged, and dreading your next workout.”
Todd Weisse, director of Operations of Track and Field at Columbia University, says that warming up is necessary for two important reasons. One, "we want the core and peripheral temperature to rise to get the body ready to roll into the actual pace and effort demand of the given workout. The second purpose is to get the central nervous system revving. Without a warm-up that approximates the feel of the hard work you're about to do, you often cannot emotionally accomplish the workout well."
Warming up isn’t the only way to prime your body for better runs. Cooling down after today’s jog could improve tomorrow’s performance. Stretching your muscles while they are warm can prevent muscle strain, and decrease soreness. Further, going from a brisk run to a slow walk allows your heart rate to gradually decline.
Taking a few moments to yourself to practice diaphragmatic breathing at the end of your workout can also downregulate your sympathetic nervous system, promoting calm and a sense of ease, post-run.
3) Find Shoes That Work For You.
There is a lot of debate about what type of shoe is best for running. Many people even advocate for barefoot running.
The truth is, our bodies and our feet are unique. Find something that you feel comfortable in, and that you can move in pain free. If you have existing foot and ankle conditions, or suspect you may have one, ask a fitness professional for advice on what is best for your foot type.
Stores like Brooklyn Running Co. and Jack Rabbit have a wide variety of shoes, and a staff that will perform a gait analysis in order to help select the correct pair for beginner runners. However, over time, the goal is to not rely on a specific shoe type to “correct” issues with your gait (or, running form). Instead, it’s best to have a dedicated professional trainer assist you in addressing technique errors, from the ground up.
About The Author
Julie Petrusak, Marketing Manager & Personal Trainer
Certified Personal Trainer & Corrective Exercise Specialist, by the National Academy of Sports Medicine
Julie is a certified corrective exercise specialist, who holds a B.FA. in Dance from the Alvin Ailey-Fordham University Dance program. She is a certified kettlebell instructor, and has taught extensively in barre fitness and high-intensity interval training.
Julie believes that moving body is a happy body. She pursues her passion for human movement practically, by training clients and instructing group fitness classes, and artistically by choreographing and directing her dance company JP Dance Group. Julie’s dance background and fitness experience allows her to offer her clients a well-rounded, diverse offering of expertise.
She takes a holistic approach to training and strives to help her clients transform not just their bodies, but also their mind-body connection, positive self-image, and overall well-being.