Since 1982 I've written a newsletter, Running Commentary. A new issue appears here each week, and material is archived.

Sun, 20 Nov 2005 08:24:21 -0500

Talking Walking

RUNNING COMMENTARY 598

Time and space ran out before my next column for Marathon & Beyond reached its intended end. Never mind that no subscriber will see it until next March. Lead times being what they are, this piece for spring had a fall deadline.

Its title, "Talking the Walk," resembles the one above. It begins by confessing that I once resisted walking.

I not only ran my interval recoveries and grabbed drinks on the run. I also avoided walking anywhere, anytime.

I did what many other runners still do: come to a stoplight, run in small circles while awaiting a break in traffic, thinking that walking or stopping would bring down a deadly lightning bolt.

My walk-avoidance went beyond running. I would run for hours, but would drive a half-mile to the grocery store. There I'd circle a parking lot until a space opened up at the front door. Anything to keep from walking.

This all changed, for reasons and in ways that my Marathon & Beyond column explains. More than 30 years ago I quit thinking of walking as cheating or wimping out, and became a walk-breaker. None of my last dozen marathons would have been possible on my battle-scarred legs and minimal training without those breaks.

Yet the M&B column ends with another confession. I know how most runners are, priding themselves on "never walking." So with the University of Oregon running classes that I teach and my Marathon Teams, walk breaks are optional, not required.

The last paragraph of that column tells of no longer dancing in place at stoplights, fighting for prime parking spots or using drive-through windows. Yet my walks during runs are infrequent. They come only when unusual distances, discomforts or dangers demand such breaks.

For now, I'm waiting to lean more heavily on walking until I really need it. That time might not be far off.

As run pace slows and walk pace stays the same, the gap between the two has never been so narrow. Someday it will disappear, and then I'll follow the lead of certain elders who've already shown me that walking is okay.

Ted Corbitt and Paul Reese are heroes of mine, first for what they did as runners and later as walkers. Neither could be accused of taking the easy way out by walking away from running. You can catch up with Ted in RC 599 and read about Paul in RC 600.

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