Beginners to trail running often ask “Is it okay to break up the longer distances with some short walking intervals? The answer is a resounding yes! Trail runners can actually cover more miles by adding walking intervals. Walking for a bit before or after a tough section of the trail may provide the much needed recovery time for trail runners while allowing some distance to still be covered. This next section comes from trailrunnermag.com, a question came up about taking walking breaks on long distance runs and this was the response.
Trail Runners Cover More Miles By Adding Walking Intervals
The question was…
I am new to trail running and currently run three miles on roads to nearby trails then three miles on trails and back. I want to train for at least a 30K, and wonder if walking is allowed.
Not only is walking allowed, it is encouraged! Even elite runners do it during long training runs and races. Walking allows you to conserve energy for the distance, to recover from a tough section or take a moment to re-assess strategy or drink and eat. For those building mileage, walking is an essential tool.
Says Tim Twietmeyer, 25-time, sub-24-hour Western States 100-miler finisher, “Mixing in walking breaks is a great way to cover more miles and prevent overuse injuries. Plus, walking stretches the leg muscles to allow a more comfortable effort later.” In his first ultra, a 50-miler, Twietmeyer says he employed a run-9-walk-1 (minutes) formula, changing to a run-8-walk-2 routine as he fatigued, then to a pattern of running 25 strides and walking 25 strides to make the finish line.
Progressing from three trail miles to 30 kilometers may take at least three months, says Twietmeyer, depending on your previous road-running experience and weekly mileage. (Coach took about three months to train for her first trail 50K but had already run a couple of marathons.) “Take plenty of time,” advises Twietmeyer, “and enjoy the process of increasing the mileage rather than pushing too fast.”
Coach’s tip: Many ultrarunners simply run the flats and downhills and walk the uphills, albeit with “vigor.”
Clearly, walking during long distance races is a strategy that is just as important as the running. It’s possible to cover more miles by adding walking intervals and to reduce the risk of serious injury by providing time to recharge. I agree with the Twietmeyer’s advice to “take your time” and listen to your own body’s signals.