There's a perfectly legal "secret" that more and more top athletes are using to run faster these days, and it's called walking. Seriously.
Athletes including Olympic triathlete Barb Lindquist (Athens, 2004), Boston Marathon winner Amby Burfoot (1968) and hundreds of others at every level have found that adding regular walking breaks into their training—often as frequently as every 10 minutes—makes their overall race times faster. Among the benefits: You can run more frequently and run longer without stressing your body so much.
The run/walk technique is the brainchild of Olympic runner Jeff Galloway, author of running bestseller "Galloway's Book on Running." One of the key coaches who is also using it for triathlon is Bobby McGee, an elite athlete consultant to USA Triathlon, a coach educator for the International Triathlon Union and author of "Run Workouts for Runners and Triathletes".
Why it Works
When you add walks to your run, McGee explains, you get multiple benefits:
Faster Race Times
You can run so much faster after a refreshing walk break that your net total time over a race is less than if you ran it consistently throughout.
It's like interval training that allows you to run short segments at paces you couldn't achieve if you just ran a steady pace. "The body can handle far more total work when the work is interspersed with recovery periods," McGee says.
More Frequent Training
"Normally, if you did an 18-mile run, you'd need 48 hours to recover. But what I've found with the run/walk method is that people are recovering much quicker. The system does not suffer the long-term fatigue that it would at a prolonged effort," McGee says.
Since you're not breaking your body down so much in a negative way, you can run more days per week and do longer runs. "And as a general rule, frequency trumps volume if you want to increase your run ability," he explains.