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Wife (to Shaun), Mother (to Danni), Dog walker of Archie the JRX, improving cyclist, reformed gym bunny, broken runner Collector of exercise DVDs & equipment. Cake is my weakness together with cider (Westons only thanks)and brandy. Noisy spectator of running & cycling events. Owner of Tribby the campervan

Friday, 23 August 2013

#RunWithAnIdea 4 "Real Runners Don't Walk"

This week's Run with an Idea bi-weekly debate is to me an interesting one.   

Real runners don't walk!

Do they not? What are we calling a "real runner" - Mo Farah ? A Kenyan marathon runner? A club runner? Someone running an Ultra? Or someone like me who just runs for fun and sometimes fits in a walk break when the going gets tough?

I was chatting with my brother a couple of years ago about when he considered I'd become a real runner - he said it was when I'd completed my first running event and got a finisher's medal (not the Race for Life!) which just happened to be the British 10k, which I finished in 1 hour and 12 minutes - yes I walked and I've always had to take some kind of walk break during any run or event I've done because I never learn from my previous mistakes of going off too fast at the start, or not hydrating enough in the run up to it.    Does this mean I'm not a real runner?

You never see the pro athletes taking a walk break!  You never see club runners walking during a race although I have heard Ultra runners may take a small walk at some point - or spend an extra 5 minutes chilling at an aid station. 

Maybe the question should really be what is a real runner?   I've never classed myself as a real runner - despite my inspirational younger brother saying I am - I'm a plodder, usually at the back of the pack so I don't get in anyone's way.   
I was looking round the tinternet whilst I was thinking about this subject, as you do, and putting "do runners walk" in the google search I found this interesting feed on daily mile.  The consensus of opinion seems to be that you're still a runner if you walk during a marathon!

And I found this on another site about the top ten training mistakes -

1.3 Training Mistake 3 - Breaks in long runs

The relative difficulty of long training runs is different between runs that are continuous and runs where there are breaks. Even relatively short Walking Breaks will allow for a surprising level of recovery, which is why ultramarathoners can cover such long distances. Unfortunately, many marathoners intended to race without any Walking Breaks, but do not train that way. I believe that Walking Breaks can be used as part of marathon training to extend the distance that can be covered on the longer long runs. However, allowances should be made when evaluating your training. A long run with plenty of breaks should not be equated to the same distance and pace run continuously. Also, some of the long runs should be is continuous as possible. Often it is impractical to avoid stopping completely; you will need to refuel, cross roads, or change clothes. With some planning, it should be possible to minimize these interruptions and to keep the run is continuous as possible (see Race Simulation below). When doing Race Simulation it is important not to pause your watch on any breaks that are taken, so you have a good evaluation of the training impact.

and this advice given on 
So maybe real runners do walk after all!  Fitting in small walk breaks actually helps.   How do the pro athletes do it?

Yay I'm a real runner - what do you think?


  1. Real runners definitely walk! Since switching almost exclusively to trail running, I now find myself walking (well, 'power walking') some of the hills. I've done this a couple of times recently in races as well - during a 12k fell race where I went on to record one of my best finishes to date, and during a hilly half marathon where I improved on my position from the same race last year. If walking gets you to the finish line faster, do it!

    1. Glad you agree Martin, sadly I'm thinking there will be some out there who will not - my tin hat and flack jacket are on! Bring on the debate I reckon. Well done on your improvements by the way - doing the same races year on year is a great way to see how you're getting on!

  2. You are a real runner (me too)! Before I started thinking about what I was going to write in my post I was probably in the anti-walking camp. In my short running career I’ve felt that when I walk I am letting myself down and “not really running”. As I have thought about this more though and wrote my piece for Run With An Idea I realised it is finishing that counts.

    My post is here:

    1. It's funny isn't it - when I first saw the title I thought that's it, I'm going to be the only one who walks and I'm going to get an absolute roasting for it! My events lately have all been about not running my personal worst and yes finishing, I'd rather walk 10 miles than DNF!!!!

  3. I'm definitely in the walk-run camp. I've been experimenting with them for a while now. I'm going to go with a 4-1 routine on one of my long runs to see how it goes. I've been doing 25 minute runs with one minute breaks repeated three times and it seems to work.

    1. Sounds like a brilliant idea - I've not got a fixed plan to my walk breaks, just as and when I need I feel one - I didn't mention in the blog, maybe I should have, but I'm asthmatic so sometimes it's the lungs (or maybe my head telling my lungs) that dictate when I walk! I might try to have a more structured approach to walk breaks from now on!

  4. You're definitely a real runner to me. So you need to stop and stretch out now and again or take a puff of your inhaler (I'm an asthmatic too so total sympathy). So what. I'd definitely advocate some structure because it then feels less like giving up and more like sticking to a plan.

    1. Thanks Becs - that damn asthma has a lot to answer for. Trouble with structured walk breaks is I'm not very good at looking at my watch to see how long I've gone, or I get distracted when it's time to run again. Guess I'll just have to give it a go!

  5. Do you consider yourself a runner? Then you are one!
    Needing to walk during your runs doesn't mean you aren't a runner. Being a runner is a state of mind, and one which can be achieved regardless of pace or want/need to have walking breaks. Did you go the distance? Did it include running? Then you're a runner!
    Keep on running!
    All the best,

    1. Cheers Bernie - Not a runner at the moment - I'm an injured runner!