Friday, April 16, 2010

Walking as Training

I am doing my best to work hard and stay fit during this period of forced cross training. Age has definitely mellowed me, as in the past when I couldn't run I was miserable. Cross training was torture. Now I find it a challenge to be creative in my workouts and a joy to be moving however I can! I've been doing fast uphill walking on the treadmill for the past few days and today I'm going to take the show to the woods!

I am planning a long fast walk in the rain. I can't go on rough trails in the mountains, I have to stick to the gentle terrain of the snow mobile trails and tote roads. Fast walking is a skill that can come in handy in a hundred mile race. So many runners in these events have a great pace and rhythm while running, but just shuffle along without making much progress during their walk breaks. It is no coincidence that many of the most successful one hundred mile runners are also avid hikers. Only practice can make a person efficient.

The first time I ever paced at a hundred miler, I paced a woman who had won Leadville several times. She was an awesome runner. But every time she took a walk break on a long climb or over rough footing, the other runners, who were also walking those stretches, would leave her in their dust. She lamented, "I'm just not a fast walker." When I asked if she ever walked in training, she said no, only during 100 mile races. She didn't even hike. She ran her training runs on trails where she didn't need to take walk breaks. Walking uses a whole different system of body mechanics than running does. It takes practice to be efficient at it!

I know another woman who is an incredible walker! I don't think her walk pace is much slower than her run pace. She claims to have walked the entire distance at Western States one year due to an injury, and finished within the time limit ! She placed extremely well at last year's Six Day Race, racking up almost the same mileage day after day. I credit her efficient and powerful walk.

So today, I'll be walking but I'll still be training!

1 comment:

  1. I am getting such a great education on ultras! Thank you. I have a friend who just did the Umstead 100 in NC. She talks about those who think they can run it all (well maybe the most elite can possibly to that but not the majority). I have never gotten to be one of her pacers (amazing how many runners want to help!) but I am hoping my 50k will turn into 50 miles and then I can set my sights on a 100.

    I love to hike in VA. I have backpacked our daughter on the trails around the skyline drive since I love to hike! I am glad to read that my fun "passtime" will eventually help me in my ultra racing goals!

    Keep these great insights coming.

    I am amazed that you are able to "stay busy." You are one though lady!