Running is one of the best ways to challenge yourself and work towards a new fitness goal. It only took entering one ½ marathon for me to get the running bug, and since then I use it as my form of cardio at least once a week to avoid running withdrawls. It’s quite addictive!
However, endurance training for those dealing with chronic joint issues can be a little tricky. As someone who deals with tendonitis in both my knee and ankle, I understand how frustrating it can be. My body just can’t handle the high impact nature of the sport as much as I’d like, and I find myself always weighing the pros and cons of taking a longer run. Even now as I’m considering training for another ½ marathon, I’m asking myself, “How is my knee going to hold up? Is it worth the recovery time or risk of injury?”
Luckily, there are methods of endurance training specifically designed to prevent injury. By alternating periods of run time with periods of walk time, you can allow your body to take short breaks from the high impact nature of running and can run longer distances injury free. It can actually help to increase your overall pace and finish time as well, because you don’t become fatigued as quickly and will have more energy and speed than you would normally towards the end of the run.
Countless people have experienced success using this method of training for ½ and full marathons. For anyone who’s never tried running but has always wanted to, this can be a great place to start. Breaking the run down into segments where you alternate between running and walking (I like 4 minutes running: 1 minute walking) is much less daunting and can be a great way for newbies to become successful. Try setting your Garmin or sport watch to alert you when it’s time to run and walk at whatever intervals you choose. Don’t be scared to start off small (even 30 sec. running: 60 sec. walking is a start!). Work on increasing your run time and shorten your walk time the more you practice. Use these recommendations as a guide based on your pace and experience as a runner…
Run-walk-run ratio should correspond to the training pace used:
8 min/mi—run 4 min: walk 35 seconds
9 min/mi— 4:1
14 min/mi—30 sec: 30 sec
15 min/mi—30 sec: 45 sec
16 min/mi—30 sec: 60 sec
[Suggested ratios from http://www.jeffgalloway.com/training/walk_breaks.html]
TRY IT! It's a great way to train and complete a race for both experienced and novice runners alike. Outside of preventing injury and improving your run times, it's a very effective form of interval training (great for fat burning), especially if you're running outdoors on uneven terrain.