By inserting walking breaks into your runs you distribute the workload to different muscle groups by changing the mechanics of the gait cycle. This variety reduces the amount of repetitive stress on your body, thereby lowering your chance of injury. Running is by nature an impact-oriented, repetitive movement. This means that without variety, there is excessive stress on certain parts of your body. Some runners feel it in their lower back, and others in their knees, hips or ankles. The redistribution of total workload can help prevent the wear and tear on your body.
Movement is the way your body recovers from a workout. The muscle contractions help to promote blood flow, which in turn helps to flush metabolic waste and tamp down inflammation. A casual post-run walk is a good way to kick-start recovery, but an even better way is to get a head start by taking short walk breaks during the run.
It seems to defy logic that incorporating walking breaks into your race can improve your overall time, but it’s true. According to Galloway, half-marathon runners can improve their time by 7 minutes and full marathoners by more than 13 minutes by reducing overall fatigue throughout the race.
Feel more controlled
If you have ever felt like your run was in control of you, rather than you being in control of your run, the run/walk method can help put you back in the driver’s seat. This is due to the fact that there is a significant mental component to the method.
By incorporating walk breaks into your runs, you are not just giving your body a break and a chance to recuperate––you are also providing your brain with the opportunity to enjoy the endorphins produced when you run. You’re also breaking up a long distance into smaller, more manageable units and giving yourself the ability to manage and navigate any stiffness, soreness or fatigue that might accumulate.
It can be tough to wrap your brain around including walking into your runs, since many runners may feel like they have “failed” if they are forced to slow down and walk during their workout. In order to maximize the effectiveness of the run/walk method, it’s important to retrain your brain and hardwire new patterns.