One of the wonderful aspects of running is that there is no definition of a "runner" that you must live up to. There are also no rules that you must follow as you do your daily run. You are the captain of your running ship and it's you who determines how far, how fast, how much you will run, walk, etc.
While you may hear many opinions on this, running has always been a freestyle type of activity where each individual is empowered to mix and match the many variables and come out with the running experience that he or she chooses. Walking is the most important component for the first time runner, and can even give the veteran a chance to improve time. Here's how it works.
Walk Before You Get Tired
Many people, even when untrained, can walk for several miles before fatigue sets in, because walking is an activity that you're bio-engineered to do for hours. Running is more work, because you have to lift your body off the ground and then absorb the shock of the landing, over and over. This is why the continuous use of the running muscles will produce fatigue, aches, and pains much more quickly. If you insert a walk break into a run before your running muscles start to get tired, you allow the muscle to recover instantly—increasing your capacity for exercise while reducing the chance of next-day soreness.
The "method" part involves having a strategy. By using a ratio of running and walking, listed below, you will manage your fatigue. Using this fatigue-reduction tool early, will help save muscle resources and give you the mental confidence to cope with any challenges that may come later. Even when you don't need the extra muscle strength and resiliency bestowed by the method, you will feel better during and after your run, and finish knowing that you could have gone further.
The beginner will be primarily walking at first. By inserting short segments of running, followed by longer walk breaks, your muscles adapt to running, without getting overwhelmed. As you improve your running ability and conditioning, you will reach a point where you can set the ratio of running and walking—for that day.
"The run-walk method is very simple: you run for a short segment and then take a walk break, and keep repeating this pattern."
Walk breaks allow you to take control over fatigue, in advance, so that you can enjoy every run. By taking walk breaks early and often you can feel strong, even after a run that is very long for you. Beginners will alternate very short run segments with short walks. Even elite runners find that walk breaks on long runs allow them to recover faster. There is no need to reach the end of a run, feeling exhausted—if you insert enough walk breaks, for you, on that day.