Like many runners (especially Canadian runners who started running at the Running Room), I was a big believer in the run-walk method. That means you run for ten minutes and walk for one minute…repeated as many times as needed.
I ran many half marathons, a couple of 30kms and a few full marathons using the run-walk method. It worked well for me for a lot of miles and a good number of years.
And then in the summer of 2012, I decided that I wasn’t going to walk anymore. I was out on a training run with Sam from our little group and we ran 26km without stopping for walk breaks. All of a sudden, running the full 42.2km of a marathon seemed like something I could do.
So I resolved to run every step of the 2012 Scotiabank Toronto Waterfront Marathon. And I did it, save for a couple of short walks of about 10 seconds at a few of the water stations.
From that day on, the walk breaks were gone and all my running was done “continuous”.
Why walk when you can run?
There’s a fair bit of controversy about run-walk. Some people seem annoyed by it and go as far as to suggest that run-walkers aren’t “real runners”.
Others swear by it and say that they’ll run-walk the rest of their running lives, no matter what.
John Stanton, founder of the Running Room says that their programs rely on the run-walk method to reduce the chances of injury for newer runners and that it helps all runners finish “upright and smiling” because it reduces stress on the body and mind.
Do what works for you
I’m of the mind that you should do what works for you. If run-walk is what you are comfortable with and you’re able to reach your goals and stay healthy, then keep doing your ten and ones.
Conversely, if you want to give up the walk breaks and switch to continuous, then that’s your decision to make and you should give it a try.
For me, dropping the walk breaks marked the start of a dramatic improvement in my marathon time. My fastest marathon done with run-walk was 3:55:06. My best time since then running continuous is 3:36:01.
Is that all thanks to skipping the walk breaks? No. Mostly it’s that I’ve invested far more time in training and I’ve gotten much stronger. That said, my experience with running continuous is that I enjoy the latter stages of the marathon more without the walk breaks.
We’re all runners
Whatever you choose for you, resolve not to judge those who choose something different. Whether you run every step, or take a walk break every ten minutes or so, we’re all marathoners at the finish.