TALKING THE WALK
Why walk when you can run? Some of us learn the hard way that this is a very bad idea. We have Talk Radio 702 to thank for this life lesson because every year its brings runners and tough guys down to earth by organising Walk the Talk.
Bored stiff by the dearth of big races in winter and the layoff from training after the Comrades, the event is enthusiastically entered by many a runner. And if you can complete the Comrades in less than 12 hours, walking 15km or 20km or 30km is a piece of cake, right?
My Comrades buddy Jon, during our post-20km-walk aches, pains and blisters debrief after the Walk the Talk the other day, made this point succinctly, emphasising that most of us social runners walk more than 20km to get us through the 89km Comrades race. On the up run, this could be even more. Then he sniggered painfully. The walking race floored us.
(I should add, however, that apparently not all runners admit to walking some of the Comrades. I don’t believe them, especially since even some of the leaders walked a bit of Polly Shortts during last year’s hot and gruelling up run. Once I made the walking point with a nudge and a wink in a conversation with a wrinkly sub-7:30 Comrades runner, but he was horrified. “If I walk one step, my race is over,” he said without as much as a smile. I now know he is a weakling. It really is us who attempt to be walkers who are strong.)
Because really, when runners get tired, they walk, but what do walkers do when they need to rest? Running is illegal during walking races, so apart from sitting down, which could lead to never getting up again, there really is no way to actively achieve respite from walking.
Some of my worst injuries were picked up while walking. A few years ago I did the 30km Walk the Talk and had blisters in places I didn’t even know I had feet. A run would never have inflicted that many blisters.
Two years or so ago, I decided to give my feet a rest from running by “resting” for two or three months after the Comrades and going walking instead. By the third month, muscles in unmentionable places ached unspeakably, so much so that walking in public was nearimpossible and very embarrassing.
Convinced that this amount of pain could only be caused because something is frightfully wrong in the female bits, I even visited a gynae. She prescribed antiinflammatory pills and Pilates classes.
My man-physio blushed and mumbled that it was best I switch to his female colleague for treatment. She, in turn, inflicted some more pain on my unmentionables and explained that walking is pretty tough on the hips. The bruises to the ego took a little longer to heal. Experts have told me that running is in effect really just a forward-falling motion helped on by momentum and gravity.
Never mind all the expert tips in running magazines about perfecting your style; it’s an unskilled activity that will, we are told, eventually ruin your knees and everything else. At least your hips will be intact and you can retire to walking.