Monday, September 6, 2010

Is WALK a 4-Letter Word??

I heard an interview with Jeff Galloway on my all-time favorite podcast ever The Marathon Show (the show in general is my favorite, not that specific interview).  He basically says you HAVE to take walk breaks. 


But, what if I want to train to (eventually) run a full marathon?  Isn't the point to push my body just a little farther than it wants to go each time so that (eventually) I will be running 26.2 miles, or more for that matter.  Everything I've read about ultras say walk breaks-early and often-are the name of the game for ultra running.  (Yes, I am already thinking about what comes after Rocket City....)   I can somewhat understand that...but, if I train doing a walk/run interval, won't that keep me stuck in that cycle forever?  I think it's just like if you never do any speed work you can't really hope to get any faster.  (((I have heard that doing hill repeats and simply increasing your mileage will have allow you to be able to run faster in shorter distances.)))

Well....all week my legs have felt just on the verge of injury.  Call me paranoid, but that's one thing I'm going to make sure I do everything I can to avoid-injury.   Add to that feeling the fact I ended up driving 19 out of 48 hours over the weekend, on less than 6 hours of sleep in the same amount of time....and you have me not wanting to do a long run Saturday.  Instead, I took a nap, ate a good dinner, and then went to bed really early.  Sunday morning I woke up ready to hit the road....but my legs were begging for mercy.

So, I decided I'd listen to Galloway and see what happened.  Before I even put on my shoes I finalized my route and my plan.  I previously mapped out a 10 mile out and back from my house (it's incredible to me that in just three short months I'm planning on running 2.5 times that distance!!).  I arbitrarily decided to do a 3 minute run/1 minute walk interval with a five minute walk for a warm up and cool down.  (I wanted that walk to warm up because, I'm not kidding when I say my legs were not ready to get cranked up and I knew walking would allow them to get with the program.)

When I stepped outside to GORGEOUS weather, my first inclination was to throw the plan out the window and just take off running.  But I reasoned with myself that at least a walk/run interval would allow me to slow down and fully enjoy the experience.  At the end of my first 3 minute run it was all I could do to walk.  Okay, at the end of EVERY run interval (until about the sixth or maybe seventh mile) I wanted to keep running.

A funny thing happened though.  I was just sure all that walking would severely slow me down.  In fact, I planned on having 13:00 miles.  But, I kept noticing my splits were well under that (even the first one where I walked a full five minutes was right at 13:00.)   I slowed down the last couple of that point, I was so ready to be home.  The beautiful weather had started feeling really hot.  (Note to self--start earlier next time.)  And, I had run out of water.  (I'm getting a bigger water bottle TONIGHT, compliments of Fleet Feet Huntsville because I'm mentoring NOBO--thank you very much to them!) 

When I got back and uploaded my Garmin data I was shocked at my split times, but even more shocked at my run interval pacing.   (I wish I knew how to import a table...)  Here are my times--the first number is the total time, the second is my best pace for that mile.
  1. 13:03/10:29
  2. 11:49/10:05
  3. 12:03/10:05
  4. 11:11/9:23
  5. 11:14/9:14
  6. 11:13/9:49
  7. 12:05/9:44
  8. 12:23/10:31
  9. 12:38/9:56
  10. 13:15/9:03 (remember I walked 5 minutes, or more of this last mile)
Average moving pace 12:06, best pace over all was 9:03 in mile 10.  But, compare that with last week's 8 miler:
  1. 12:06/10:26
  2. 12:31/10:18
  3. 11:42/8:23
  4. 11:56/9:59
  5. 11:28/9:50
  6. 11:16/8:10
  7. 11:16/9:52
  8. 11:06/5:10  (we sprinted in at the end)
Average moving pace of 11:37, best pace 5:10 in mile 8.

I think the biggest difference is something not captured by the Garmin.  My legs feel completely fine so far today.  (Well, not "completely" but they feel fine.)  I think the real test will be when I go out tonight to run with NOBO, and then tomorrow with Daisy.

I just don't know.  To walk or not to walk.  The thing is, like I've said before--opinions are like brains, everyone has one but some are just more useful than others!  I don't want to walk, but at the same time,  I want to run further without getting injured.  I keep hearing that I shouldn't be training to run a marathon since I just started in January, and battled an injury early on.  But, I've also been told if I plan on doing a run/walk interval from the start then I'll be perfectly fine.  The way I see it, I could either spend less time running and build up slowly, or increase my distance by incorporating strategic walk breaks...with the eventual goal of phasing them out completely.

What do you think?  Is WALK a four letter word or should I embrace the idea?

Thanks for stopping in, come again soon!

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