Walking in Training for better Marathon Performances
It might just be one of the best kept secrets in marathon training in the modern era—Elite Marathon Runners walk in training! And plenty of it too. Japanese female marathon runners have won 15 medals in Olympic or World Championships since Barcelona in ’92. They walk upwards of 40 miles per week. When I worked with Josia Thungwane in his build up to a gold medal in the Olympic marathon in Atlanta in 1996, he walked for 4-6 hours per week in training. The African runners walk a great deal as part of their weekly lives.
The average runner is too big (read heavy) to be able to train correctly for the marathon—if all the mileage required for success in a marathon were completed by a male weighing more than 165lbs or 150 for a female, in most cases, they would break down from too much impact & weight bearing. Recovery times would increase, iron stores would become depleted & muscle tissue would become chronically inflamed. By reducing the accumulated G (gravitational) forces on the leg muscles & joints/ligaments of the ankles knees, hips & low back by walking (much more support & less impact) the athlete is far more able to accumulate the necessary muscle endurance to successfully complete a marathon at optimum pace.
Beyond around 60 miles per week the average runner achieves a point of diminishing returns, when the risks of injury & illness begin to supersede the gains in performance fitness. Research has clearly shown that intermittent effort in ALL forms of exercise brings about a far greater increase in fitness than steady effort. We also know that the greatest benefits in the body learning to burn fat as a fuel of choice begins after 2 hours of exercise, but running repeated efforts of over 2 hours rapidly leads to deterioration & ultimately break down in even the lightest, most gifted & most biomechanically sound of runners.
Now we have a strong case for peppering almost all our run workouts with short periods of walking. The impact load is decreased, the percentage of VO2 Max use is decreased, but the muscle endurance training can now be safely increased & with the lowered VO2 Max an increased fat burning ability is introduced.
I have workeded world #1’s, sub 4-minute milers, sub 28 minute 10km runners, 2:06 marathoners & they all need muscle endurance to succeed at their specific disciplines.
If you want your best chance at an optimum running performance in events ranging from 1 to 100 miles I suggest you cleverly utilize walking as a premium training tool—now!
Enjoy your training--for further ideas check out my website at www.BobbyMcGee.com
I'll be teaching triathlon coaching courses throughout the year. These will mostly be at the Olympic Training Centers in Colorado Springs & Chula Vista in Southern California. For further information on these go to www.usatriathlon.org.
I'll also be teaching clinics, workshops & seminars in Boulder, San Diego (March), New York (April) & possibly Monaco during the course of the year--to find info on these or other services I provide to the endurance community, periodically check out my website (www.BobbyMcGee.com)
Fitness is Magic!