Be­gin­ners

Stride with pride: walk breaks could ac­tu­ally help you fin­ish faster.

Runner's World South Africa - - Contents - BY CINDY KUZMA

Re­bekah Mayer com­pleted her first marathon in a speedy three hours and 14 min­utes. Still, she hes­i­tated to claim she ‘ran’ the en­tire race, be­cause she walked a bit af­ter kilo­me­tre 35.

Like many run­ners, Mayer once con­sid­ered break­ing stride dur­ing a dis­tance race an ad­mis­sion of de­feat. “There’s this cul­ture of ‘If you’re go­ing to run a marathon, by God, you run the marathon,’ ” says run­ning coach Bobby McGee. “Walk­ing is seen as a sign of weak­ness.”

But McGee and Mayer ( who’s now na­tional train­ing man­ager for Life Time Run) – along with Run­ner’s World colum­nist Jeff Galloway – are among a grow­ing num­ber of coaches who ad­vise even ex­pe­ri­enced run­ners to con­sider the run-walk ap­proach, es­pe­cially for half and full marathons.

Brief respites from race pace can keep your heart rate con­trolled, help fuel go down smoothly, and make racing more fun, they say. In fact, a Ger­man study found that fourhour marathon­ers who took walk breaks sus­tained less mus­cle dam­age and fin­ished in about the same time as those who didn’t – and McGee be­lieves most run­ners with marathon times of more than three hours would fin­ish faster. Here’s when to con­sider the run-walk, and how to make it work.

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