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