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To walk or not to walk....that is the question

 

   


Kath

Sep 30, 05 13:46

Post #1 of 15 (5191 views)
To walk or not to walk....that is the question Quote | Reply

This was posted by gbyrn on an earlier thread and thought it deserved its own debate. Am very interested to know your thoughts on the run vs not run strategy in an IM marathon. I have listened to some people who say that even a slow shuffle is better than walking (my coach) so dont walk at all costs vs others (as this article suggests) that incorporating running is actually a positive.

Thoughts?

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If you think that you will walk any of the run then this article might help. The strategy took 45 min out of an athlete of my run time. I'd use it in your training as well.



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Bobby McGee is a full time running coach and the author of Magical Running. He is also a columnist for the South African edition of Runnerís World. Born in South Africa, Bobby now lives in Boulder. He currently coaches or has coached several world class athletes. His website is www.bobbymcgee.com, and there you can find information on his personal coaching, gait analysis, and other services.



EOne: You were a teacher in South Africa. How did you get in involved in coaching?

McGee: In South Africa in those days all teachers coached and I coached cross-country. I started coaching a number of guys across the color line, which we werenít supposed to do and they werenít allowed to do either. Two of those kids were very talented and they were right at the top of the pile in their segregated area, and they wanted to spread their wings. One of them ran a 3:33 1500 meters. As a coach I was traveling to several meets and I was told I was going to have to choose between teaching and running. I became a full time coach in 1992.



EOne: When did you move to the US?

McGee: I starting coming to the US in 1992, after the Olympic Games, to help Colleen De Reuck. I would come her for the spring and fall. The last four years I have been here more or less permanently.



EOne: Whom do you coach?

McGee: Runners of all levels. Sometimes you lose business because people think you are only an elite coach. I also work with some Ironman athletes, helping them with their mechanics. I have been working with Barb Lindquist [Olympic triathlete] for three years. Most of my other clients are age group runners, beginners, and middle of the pack runners.



EOne: As a coach, whom have you learned the most from?

McGee: I was very lucky when I started my coaching career. We were part of the sports embargo, but I traveled extensively in Europe, and people were very open because we werenít considered to be a threat. I was influenced by Steve Ovettí coach Ė Harry Wilson. He used a very simple and very linear approach that was easy to apply across a group of athletes. Another coach who had a strong influence, but was eccentric, was Frank Horwill. He designed Sebastian Coeís programs, working with his father.



I came at it from a middle distance background. I always believed in strong before long. I believe in more quality. I believed an athlete had to be strong before they could do the long distance. Iíd have marathoners do hill training before having them doing 15 and 16 mile tempo runs.



Bobby incorporates walking for several of his athletes, and our conversation took a rather large tangent on that topic.



EOne: How do you convince an athlete to try walking?

McGee: I would prove it to that athlete first. Go out for your usual 3 hour or 2 hour long run. You know how fast you usually do it. Do exactly the same run but run for 10 minutes and then walk one minute. Do it from the beginning. Without fail people tell me that they were faster.



EOne: Why do you prescribe walking in a marathon?

McGee: You will have much more consistent and predictable results with walk-run. You will digest better. You will maintain your vascularity better. Iíve always been a very firm believer that the legs drive the heart and not vice-versa. Blood is coming up from the legs because the muscles are contracting Ė the heart doesnít pump it. In a marathon your legs get weaker and your heart rate goes down. When you do the walk-run the rest helps you maintain the run strength and keep your blood flowing. You will be able to have a higher heart rate and itís mentally easier. The one caveat is that you have to train like that. For 3:30 to 5:30 marathoners run-walk will beat the pants off the run system. The only downside of it is the minimal loss of speed.



You will find as soon as an athlete puts their heel down, the blood is able to flush out of the calves and quads. If you look at marathoners that are 2:45 and slower, if they want to run nine minute miles, they will walk one tenth of every mile in 14 minute pace. I have people run for 10 minutes and then walk for one minute, or variations of that. Doing this, they donít have the classic dropoff at the end of a race. These people will report that toward the end of the race they start passing people in droves.



Do you have your elite athletes incorporate walking into their training?

Yes. If you take Barb Lindquist, who does not have the best mechanics, if she has to do a two hour run she would break down. She would very seldom, if ever, run more than 45 minutes without walking. For Carrie Messner [All-American collegiate runner and world class post-collegiate steeplechaser] I have her do a five minute walk, then 4X15 minutes of running with one minute breaks, and then a five minute walk at the end. She would do that twice a week most of the year.



EOne: Youíve mentioned that you think even ironman competitors that can run a sub 3 hour marathon would benefit from walking. What would you prescribe?

McGee: I would look at their body weight, their dropoff from a 10k to a marathon, using a race prediction chart, and from a marathon to an ironman marathon. Is it a 20-25 minute difference, or is it greater. If they are a heavier runner, 165-175 pounds, with a bigger build and a bigger body surface area, and if they had bigger than normal dropoffs, I would have them run ten minutes on, one minute off. The better the mechanics, the less the dropoff, I would give them less walking. I would give them 15 seconds of walking each 10 minutes. You will maintain a more consistent pace.



EOne: What common mistakes do you see in runners?

McGee: Iím amazed at training regimens. How can you expect to get better if you keep doing something in the same way? People follow a very rigid routine and they get the same results. Iím also amazed how many people, especially women, do their easy days too hard, and they canít go hard enough on their quality days.



In terms of form, the three main things I see are overstriding, relying too much on strength, and too little rhythm. Bad form comes from having a weak core. They never work on mid-level and deep level muscles.



I look at guyís inseam and if they are anywhere from 34 or lower, their cadence should be 90 and above. For a higher cadence the first thing you need to do is bend your forearms to get the angle less than 90 degrees, and donít let it get away from you. The second thing is real simple Ė remember that running happens behind you. Donít reach and pull, you push and land. I donít believe in forefoot striking unless somebody is naturally a forefoot runner.


desert dude

Sep 30, 05 13:57

Post #2 of 15 (5153 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

""""How can you expect to get better if you keep doing something in the same way? People follow a very rigid routine and they get the same results""""



Probably the most important take away for everybody. Change is good. Doing the same thing over and over expecting different results is stupidity.

Brian Stover
Accelerate3 Coaching :: Twitter @accelerate3 :: Like us on Facebook


(This post was edited by desert dude on Sep 30, 05 13:58)


Fleck

Sep 30, 05 14:04

Post #3 of 15 (5132 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Interesting stuff. Thanks for sharing.

Two things:

1. Many recrational runners and triathletes could benefit from his line of not going hard enough when it's time to go hard and easier when it's time to go easier. ALL of their training tends to be the same. With respect, no wonder the performance stays the same.

2. The walking for longer run training and for race execution in an IM is intriuguing. I never did this, but I fall out of his suggested range for this ( less than 165 pounds, less than 20min varition on IM vs standalone marathon time). However, for others I think that it makes sense in the first half to walk or slow down substantially at every aid station for the reasons that he stated and also to ensure that you are getting adequate nutrition and hydration in. If you can then run the second half of the marathon in an IM strongly, you will pass MANY people.

Fleck

Steve Fleck @stevefleck | Blog


skip

Sep 30, 05 14:23

Post #4 of 15 (5096 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

In my experience, Steve is exactly right. He himself ran fast enough and steadily enough (as did Gordo as an elite) that walking really didn't enter the picture, but for the vast majority of people, up to and including Hawaii qualifiers in every age group, a Galloway style run-walk strategy, in the race and in training can really work well, often much better than a shuffle at all costs because it's still "running" approach.

There's nothing wrong with walk breaks, the hard part is starting to run again. And if you practice that, you'll be a lot better at it in a race situation. For most people, the ironman run is about fueling and hydration (both during the run, and what they did on the bike), combined with relentless forward progress at the best possible pace. Virtually everyone walks, at least everyone who is running over 3:30, and even those who are faster are either really good at drinking on the run or they walk, however briefly, to fuel, and it probably does them more good than just the fluid they take in.

This method (perhaps originally attributable to Galloway) of training the long run will set you up for what's most likely to happen during the race AND allow you to train longer while recovering better with less chance of injury. What's not to like?

Anyway, unless you're really going to run sub 3:30, I think your coach is mistaken. The key to walking is to resume running again (and again and again) - if you can do that, you're going to move through the course faster than those who are shuffling. The aid stations are perfectly situated to make the best use of this strategy.

It may be that we're talking about two different things here - when someone says a slow shuffle is better than walking, I take that to mean in the situation when you're blown up and have basically pulled the plug - the choice is steady walking or steady shuffling. That could be argued, as some people can walk pretty fast and more comfortably than they can run, but in general I'd agree, if you can run without your strides being shorter than your shoe length, go ahead and run. Using walking as a tool during IM, and during training, as this article suggests, is totally different. Run strong, walk briskly to refuel and recover, then run strong again - that's what he's talking about.


devashish_paul

Sep 30, 05 14:25

Post #5 of 15 (5087 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Fleck] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Fleck, I agree with him and I also disagree for Ironman. The main problem with starting to walk an Ironman marathon is that 15 seconds of walking turns into 1.5 min, which then turns into 5 min which turns to 15min.

Let's face it. Walking in an ironman marathon is comfortable, running is painful. If you keep shuffling the pain becomes like ambient noise. You get used to the pain and torture level and you end up tuning it out and you can somehow keep going. The moment you walk it goes away. Suddenly your brain tells the legs, "this is much nicer...why don't we just walk for a few more seconds" and before you know it you are walking for 15 min.

If you can shuffle an entire Ironman marathon at 10 min miles, you'll cross the line in 4:20 as long as you don't walk a step. Once you start walking, the pace is now reduced to 25 min per mile if you are lucky.

If you can do the 26x0.95 run with 0.05 mile walk through aid stations or 13x1.95 with 0.05 mile walk through every second station your plan and execute it, then I think that would be optimal. Based on athletes I have spoken to, everyone I know of said they had a better race when they made a mental committment to never walk and followed through on race day with no walking.


devashish_paul

Sep 30, 05 14:30

Post #6 of 15 (5062 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [skip] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

The key to walking is to resume running again (and again and again) - if you can do that, you're going to move through the course faster than those who are shuffling. The aid stations are perfectly situated to make the best use of this strategy.

Come on Skip, we are too mentally weak willed do something like that. Seriously though, if you can do it, then it is optimal. It certainly needs to be practiced in training !


peaches

Sep 30, 05 14:54

Post #7 of 15 (5025 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [devashish paul] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

walking is like crack .... the more you do it, the more you want to do it

k


skip

Sep 30, 05 15:25

Post #8 of 15 (4985 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [devashish paul] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

I start running when my cup is empty. Sometimes it takes me a little longer to finish that last sip. Sometimes a lot longer :)

You definitely have to practice the mental aspect of it, which was pretty easy for me because I would often train on some pretty ridiculous trails, sometimes with ultra runners - walking had no stigma, and resuming running was essential. When I started doing more ultra running and less triathlon I was already used to it. But even long before that, I walked aid stations by design in Ironmans, and was able to negative split several times because of it. Walking breaks combined with running much faster than the alternative continuous shuffle definitely got me to Hawaii a couple of times by a few precious minutes, at the expense of people who "ran" the whole way.

But, I agree, in circumstances where the walking is a capitulation, even a supposedly brief one, it's usually all downhill from there.


DavHamm

Sep 30, 05 15:27

Post #9 of 15 (4977 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [devashish paul] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

[reply]
If you can shuffle an entire Ironman marathon at 10 min miles, you'll cross the line in 4:20 as long as you don't walk a step. Once you start walking, the pace is now reduced to 25 min per mile if you are lucky.

If you can do the 26x0.95 run with 0.05 mile walk through aid stations or 13x1.95 with 0.05 mile walk through every second station your plan and execute it, then I think that would be optimal. Based on athletes I have spoken to, everyone I know of said they had a better race when they made a mental committment to never walk and followed through on race day with no walking.[/reply]

a 25 min / mile walk pace is not walking -- 15 min / mile is my walk pace has been since Highschool when we did the 15 minute run. and I walked, a mile.


Ok then you say to walk the aid stations, Im confused are you saying dont walk or walk?
_________
Just Triing

Triathlete since 9:56:39 AM EST Aug 20, 2006.


Freeflyer

Sep 30, 05 18:00

Post #10 of 15 (4901 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

A few months ago I decided to try that experiment, run 10, walk 1. I found I was faster on my long runs (16km - 10mile) than just running. I figured it was because I was allowing my muscles to recharge a little and because I stepped back up to regular run pace, rather than the gradual drift down in pace when you're just running.

I'm convinced, but then I'm not that quick a runner (5:30-6:00 per km) on long runs.

WOrked well for me in the half iron. I walked a few aid stations but picked straight back up to a run and also stopped for a minute or two to clear a side stitch, but was running stronger at the end than when I started.

J.


smartasscoach

Sep 30, 05 18:03

Post #11 of 15 (4898 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Never not walk! :-D

The difference between walking and running very slow is only psychological because it's just a difference in pain levels, not energy expenditure. And running very slow is MUCH faster.
-
"Yeah, no one likes a smartass, but we all like stars" - Thom Yorke


smartasscoach.tri-oeiras.com


Kath

Sep 30, 05 18:07

Post #12 of 15 (4889 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [smartasscoach] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Did you mean to say "never walk" then?


smartasscoach

Sep 30, 05 18:13

Post #13 of 15 (4877 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

Yes... the double negative is a portuguese thing :-)
-
"Yeah, no one likes a smartass, but we all like stars" - Thom Yorke


smartasscoach.tri-oeiras.com


Kath

Sep 30, 05 18:20

Post #14 of 15 (4867 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Kath] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

This question was also somewhat of an experiment to determine whether walking at aid stations is beneficial in terms of a trade off between a) giving the body a short break/drinking enough fluids properly vs b) sacrificing time. I think getting in enough fluids on the run in this IM in the heat is going to be one of my challenges (given lack of coordination in running and drinking with a cup ... yes I know I know ... bend the sides etc etc). How do you drink - a lot - without stopping or alternately carrying a water bottle and is it worth it to do so?


TripleThreat

Sep 30, 05 19:57

Post #15 of 15 (4822 views)
Re: To walk or not to walk....that is the question [Freeflyer] [In reply to] Quote | Reply

A few months ago I decided to try that experiment, run 10, walk 1. I found I was faster on my long runs (16km - 10mile) than just running. I figured it was because I was allowing my muscles to recharge a little and because I stepped back up to regular run pace, rather than the gradual drift down in pace when you're just running.

I did the same thing in training for the 1/2IM. I hydrated during the walk, and ran 10:00, repeat. My overall pace was better with a lower avr HR.

I started out with a 10:00 run, and 2:00 walk and lowered that two a 10:00 run, 1:00 walk, and the latter produced a better overall time (obviously), but the avr HR was comparable. In other words, I did not find that the extra 1:00 walking provided with much added benefit ... for 1/2mary training run (I am also a slow runner).

I plant to do the same 10/1 strategy for the next season, when long runs approach 2 hours.
=======================
-- Every morning brings opportunity;
Each evening offers judgement. --

   
 
 
 



Draft legal AG Sprint WC
The ITU has just announced that starting 2016 its age group Sprint WC will be draft legal. Do you welcome this change?
Yes, but never for Oly distance
Yes, for both Sprint and Oly
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I'm withholding judgment