Galloway uses walking so that injured athletes can continue their training. He cites one runner who was so injured that he was forced to walk training distances of 15 to 21 miles. The walking allowed the injury to heal, and he was able to return to running. The runner's marathon time "was within a few minutes of the time predicted at the beginning of the program before injury."
Adam Spector, a podiatrist and runner, believes that both running and walking "stimulate muscles but not the exact same ones." He believes that the biomechanics are different; runners run on the ball of the foot while walkers use their entire foot, moving from heel to toe. He believes that my improvement following my trip to Spain came from the rest rather than from the long walks. He thinks that the walking kept me reasonably toned, but the rest was equally beneficial. Spector observes that runners benefit from resting. He maintains that it is better to be 20 percent under-trained than 1 percent under-rested.
Daniel Brafman, owner of RaceTrain Fitness, says that he "absolutely" recommends walking as a part of training for runners. The walking can either be used as "active recovery," or for older or beginner athletes, as the workout itself.
Brafman recommends that the athlete should walk fast enough "so there is a noticeable difference in respiration." Spector says that cadence for both running and walking should be 180 footfalls per minute, as studies show that the cadence should be the same for both activities. But he warned that walkers often overstride, which can lead to injury.
Danny Pereles, an orthopedic physician and triathlete, came up with what may be the best reason to incorporate walking into a running routine. He says that runners tend to start having knee problems after about 25 years of running because of the wear and tear on the knee joints. Since "walking is not injurious to joints," incorporating walking into a running routine can keep you running long into old age.
Sign up for a walking event.
Thomas Denes is a triathlete and author of several fitness books. His latest book, The Armchair Athlete, is available on www.amazon.com. Denes can be contacted at 240-506-0904.