“Don’t run before you can walk” isn’t the most inspirational of phrases – but it’s not bad as an intro to how walking can compliment running, another chapter in my blogs on cross training.
I love hill walking – but don’t get the chance to do so very often now. I did when I was 16 - we moved from the Midlands to the North West. Yorkshire Dales, Lake District and Snowdonia – all within day trip distance and there was a great walking club at my school. Both my parents and in-laws are enthusiastic members of walking groups - Dad even led tourists on the West Highlands Way a little while ago. From our group, Anne did the South Downs Way a few years ago – and Zoe gets the chance to hit Munros on a regular basis now she’s based in Scotland (jealous!).
There’s also power walking. Claire G and Louise L both came to running from power walking and Sarah F has done the Moonwalk. More recently, Nordic Walking has been growing in popularity – using poles to ease knee stress and give an upper body workout.
But most of my walking is pretty gentle. If I have a meeting in London, it’s a 25 minute walk to the station and if location and weather allow, I prefer to walk across central London from Waterloo. A wander in the woods after work or just down the hill to get a paper – and I don’t (normally!) get sweaty enough to need a shower afterwards which adds to the convenience factor.
Walking gives a cardio vascular workout that’s low impact. Gentle walking will improve your fitness – gently! More intensive walking can give a quicker improvement to your stamina and fitness.
Hill walking can be an all day activity – or day after day – and this will give your endurance a real boost as your legs, feet and lungs get used to the constant exertion.
Louise HW had a great suggestion that I’m employing now with beginners – try to up the amount of walking you do before starting to run. It’ll boost your fitness and put you in a great place to start running. Running 1 mile does burn more calories than walking 1 mile. Running should benefit your walking as it will make you fitter and stronger.
There is cross over – but you will find that you don’t use the same muscles in exactly the same way for running and walking as the movement is different. However, walking will certainly strengthen your feet, legs, lower body and hips.
Good walking technique requires looking ahead, relaxed shoulders, moving your arms to assist and keeping your pelvis in a neutral position – all of which make for good running too.
Running and Walking Together
This is the basis of the beginners’ programme that we use, but don’t think that walk breaks are only for those building up to running - walking breaks are a great way of easing your body into longer distances. Jeff Galloway has even taken mixing walking breaks into runs up to marathon level with impressive results with experienced, elite runners.
Walking is a great way to warm your body up ready for running and the perfect way to cool down afterwards.
Simply taking a walk in your lunch hour, walking to the paper shop or dragging the family to the park are all great ways to sneak more walking into your daily routine.
If you want to investigate power walking, try this guide from Joanna Hall.
I’m very proud of my Mum for leading Health Walks in her village – there’s a network all over the country, including walks in Stoke Park Woods. These attract many who are new to exercise and tend to be gentle – but are a fantastic starting point.if you’d like to walk in a group.
Anyway, given that so many of you walk already, I look forward to your comments!