A lot of our training plans, especially the beginner marathon ones will include some run walk intervals as part of the longer runs. It isn't something that works for everyone, but if you are going to be out on your feet for a long time then using this run / walk method can really help.
It's really important that you don't see walking as cheating. The fact we have had runners go quicker than 3hrs and 30 minutes for a marathon with this method shows that you don't need to run the whole way to go fast.
Running to heart rate is one of many tools available to runners in order to track progress, monitor effort levels and making sure you are training correctly.
It isn’t for everyone, Elliud Kipchoge (part of Nike’s breaking2 team, and runner of a 2:00:25 marathon!) never used a heart rate monitor in his training before the breaking2 project.
If you want to train to heart rate, you have to trust the numbers and buy into the process. Heart rate training is great as it'll control the intensity of training to make sure you are hitting the right effort levels for each session. What you can't do is look down, see the pace is a bit low and decide to run faster and ignore the heart rate zones! Then it just becomes a waste of time!
To help your body cope with the training load, rest is going to be as important a part of your training schedule as the running. Listen to your body and take heed of any warning signs.
If you feel fatigued even before you’ve run a step, find yourself thinking up excuses not to run or start suffering a series of minor injuries, you probably need more time off. Taking enough rest allows physical and mental recovery whilst giving your body the time to adapt to your workload before progression.
Remember rest days mean complete rest with no physical activity.
Measuring your effort
It's important that you run at the right effort level and intensity to ensure you're training to reach your full potential. Most of us think that running "harder is better" so we end up running too quickly, which can result in feeling tired, illness or injury. Understand what each run is trying to achieve and how it should feel is the way to train smart, so here's a guide to the running sessions that you'll find mentioned in your training plan and a note of how they should feel as a "talk test".
|Type of run
|Perceived effort level (1-10)*
|How it should feel - the "talk test"
|You can speak in compelte sentences, totally conversational, you're running relaxed, enjoying it and not worrying about the watch.
|You're in control, running fludily and very much at a conversational level but you'll feel slightly flushed with a gradual build up of muscular fatigue.
|Steady Effort Run
|You can speak in short sentences but have a slight pause on your breath. This can often be 'no man's land' in training terms if this is all you do.
|Threshold runs/Kenyan Hills
|You could speak 4-5 words if somebody asked you a question. Your breathing is more laboured and you know you're working, we call this 'controlled discomfort'.
|You can say only 2-3 words maximum and are out of breath but still know that you could do more if you had to.
*Perceived effort = where 1 is easy and represents minimum effort and 10 is hard and represents maximum effort.
Training plans for every length and ability
The reasons we love a run / walk are;
- It manages your effort level better
- Reduces the impact forces going through the legs
- Allows you to be on your feet for longer before hitting massive fatigue levels
- You can still go fast (as we mentioned above)
With the regular walk breaks, it allows you to have a chance to just recover every few minutes. If you wear a heart rate monitor and monitor your heart rate, you will see your heart rate drop when you walk. This will allow you to keep the long run as an easy effort run, rather than it becoming too hard.
By walking, we change the gait pattern up. When you run, you are putting a lot of force through your legs. By changing up the way this loading occurs with the walk breaks, it means you use the muscles differently and that reduces the impact forces. This also allows us to extend that long run a bit, to give you more time on your feet as part of training.
The battle with training is finding that line between training and recovery. We need to train hard but if you aren't recovering then you won't get fitter. Using regular walk breaks allows us to recover quicker from these long runs, which means we can keep training during the week at a good level.
There are many ways of going about a run / walk strategy. The key to making this work is to make the walk breaks regular and from the beginning of your run. If you wait until you need to walk to walk, then you are already so tired that the walk breaks are not going to be of benefit. See the walk breaks as a way of slowing down how fatigued you get, not to give you more energy.
Starting off with 4 minutes running and 1 minute walking is a nice way of getting into this. Over time extend that to 9 minutes running and 1 minute walking. You may even prefer 19 minutes running, 1 minute walking. You want to keep the walk breaks short otherwise you'll get too comfortable walking! Practice these things in training, discuss it with your coach to find what works for you
More support with your training
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