Get more out of distance runs with brief walks
Want to get more out of your long runs? Try walking.
A recent study found you don’t lose any benefits to your heart health if you walk periodically during long runs. In fact, brief periods of walking may save some of the wear and tear you experience on your muscles when you run. This is especially true for run-of-the-mill runners not training for marathons or triathlons.
For the study, researchers at Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg in Germany split 42 first-time marathon runners into two groups. One group completed the race by sprinkling minute-long walks throughout the race. The other group ran all 26 miles. Both groups achieved the same heart-healthy benefits, but only about a seven-minute difference in their race times.
The combined run/walk strategy did not reduce the load on the cardiovascular system, according to the researchers, but it did allow the group of non-elite runners to finish with less muscle discomfort and less exhaustion.
Some runners think less of themselves if they walk during a long run, but this study shows it’s better to walk, give your muscles a break and then re-start—as long as you don’t quit completely. Walking allows you to continue to the end of the race without taxing your body too much. Just make sure you don’t let your heart rate drop completely. Walk for no more than one minute throughout your long-distance run.