TALK­ING THE WALK

CityPress - - Opportunity index - RUN­NING CARIEN DU PLESSIS

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.

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