It’s Okay to Walk. Really.

Moment of truth? I’ve never run an entire half marathon. I’ve hit walls and had to walk-run the last few miles to cross the finish line. I’ve walked up tough hills, to calm cramps and when I’m feeling winded. Even during my best runs, I slow to walk through water stations. Sometimes I find myself trying to convince my half marathon training group, which is full of mostly first timers, “Really, it’s okay to walk.”

the first five steps are the hardest

You guys know my story, about how I built endurance through a walk-to-run program to complete my first 10K. Eighteen months later, I still believe walking helps me clock my fastest times. “What?” you say. “It doesn’t make sense.”

First, get the crazy notion out of your head that walking equates failure, and instead start thinking of walking as recovery.

Walk to warm up. This is how I begin most of my runs instead of stretching. And when in crowded races, walk a few tenths of the first mile until the crowds thin instead of darting around other runners or stepping on their heels.

Walk through water stations while refueling with gels, water and sports drinks to avoid the embarrassing moment of choking while running (been there, done that). Walking also enables you to navigate slippery piles trampled Dixie cups and idiots, eh I mean volunteers, who stand in the middle of the racecourse shoving sugar-water in your path.

Walk up steep hills when necessary to avoid all out exhaustion at the top. Even without trying, you will make up the time on the downhill. Trust gravity.

Walk when you begin to shuffle your feet, feel tired or sore. The change in pace will wake up your brain and give your legs a restart for better form. It reduces the impact of pounding pavement on your body, so you are able to cover more miles with better body alignment. It also reduces your heart and breathing rates to delay fatigue and manage energy.

Question of the Week: When do you walk and how have you found it beneficial to your fitness?


  1. I 100% agree! I think it’s silly when I hear runners complaining about how a runner keeps passing him or her by running and then walking instead of keeping a consistent pace. It doesn’t matter how you get to the finish…just that you get there in one piece! ;)

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