Finishing a 10K race just after a woman who was probably a few years younger than my own mother, tends not to be an experience that boosts one’s ego!
However, that’s exactly what happened to me this weekend when I took part in the 10K run at the Triathlon Show which took place at Sandown Park in Esher in Surrey.
Yes, it was a slow run for me, but what the other runners didn’t realise was that I was trying a walk/run approach which I have never tried before in a 10K. It was an interesting experience and I certainly felt much better at the finish line, despite the fact that I was near the back!
If you’re not familiar with the run-walk approach, let me enlighten you. As you’d expect, it’s a technique that uses a mixture of running and walking intervals to reduce stress on your body; boost speed, conserve energy and help you recover more quickly. Why? Simply because the walk gives you the opportunity to give your body a rest, so that you can conserve energy and finish well.
For beginners, I always recommend the run-walk technique a lot as it’s easier to break a run down into chunks which makes a longer run seem more manageable; and let’s remember that, for a beginner, running continuously for 20 minutes is a long run!
But, the run-walk isn’t just for beginners and can go a long way to helping seasoned runners preserve their bodies and keep running for longer. That’s certainly behind my strategy. After a relatively injury-free running career, when I hit 40, I promptly got a knee problem followed by a stress fracture in my foot. The cries to find a lower impact sport got louder and louder, but I managed to silence them by adapting the approach that had served me well in my younger days, to support me better as I get older. For me, I have a simple goal: I want to keep running well into my 80s!
If you’re just starting to run, deciding the ratio of running vs. walking can be difficult. I usually focus on time depending on the training plan I’m following, For instance, I’ll run for five minutes and then walk for two. One other key point to note is that the walking isn’t a gentle stroll – I’ll walk at a brisk pace.
If you’re interesting in the walk/run method, the only other tip I’d recommend, certainly based on this weekend’s experience, is to be sure to wear a BIG sign on your back telling everyone what you’re doing! Otherwise, be prepared for the supporters who are just keen everyone in a running race to RUN!
My new book: Success without Stress will be published next month. To get a free pre-publication chapter, sign-up here: http://bit.ly/1EDnYWL