Stress and rest are the foundations of all training programs. Stress makes us stronger. Rest provides recovery and a rebuilding improvement phase.
A 1-minute brisk walk after 10 minutes of running provides a phase of active rest. Active rest keeps the runner moving forward. This active rest helps flush lactic acid out of system. As we approach our anaerobic threshold (85% of our maximum heart rate) our body starts producing lactic acid. This leaves us heavy- legged with a queasy stomach. Run-walk combinations will help dissipate this lactic acid build up.
Running/walking distributes the workload to various muscles, potentially helping to delay fatigue. Sports medicine professionals all encourage stretching. Stretching yields supple muscles with improved range of motion. A fast, brisk walk break provides a gentle and specific stretch to the leg muscles. Walk breaks prevent a slow down in the long run, keeps the pace consistent and minimizes injuries. Run-walk combinations should be practiced both on long run days and on race day.
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John Stanton is the President and Founder of the Running Room. He is the author of 10 books about running, walking and family fitness.