The Twilight Zone: walk-run theory

There’s an article on National Geographic’s news website which my husband has just forwarded to Maria and I. You can read it for yourself here.

I just read it and smiled. It’s opening paragraph was me just two days ago.

I was in London, dashing between classes and workshops in different locations. Time was tight and although I couldn’t do anything about the bumbling buses and trains, when it was me and the pavement, I ran. Then I walked a bit. Then I ran some more. Then I walked again. Then I ran, my backpack juggling around on my back and my other bags swinging from side to side. I didn’t want to be late. I hate being late.

Apparently, this walk-run scenario I’ve just described happens to us humans a lot. Knowing we are pushed for time, we don’t necessarily run the whole way. Instead, we combine walking and running250px-TheTwilightZoneLogo to conserve energy and still get there quicker. Manoj Srinivasan, professor at Ohio State University studying this theory calls this ‘the Twilight Zone’. I love this description. It’s “where you have neither infinite time nor do you have to be there now” he explains.

And for those runners who are pushing the distance, adding the miles, it’s a great theory to incorporate. I read a couple of years ago about a runner who wanted to qualify for the Boston Marathon (that’ll be a sub-3.05 please, Sir, if you’re under 34 and a 3.35, Madam, if you will) and started to train using walk-run techniques. In his short walks on the longer runs, he was able to recover, conserve energy and ended up with faster overall times.

And you don’t have to be a super runner to see the benefits of this. New runners will also use the walk-run method when they first start out. It’s daunting to say you’re going to run without stopping at first. Walking and running makes sense. As Srinivasan points out, “It’s basically an evolutionary argument” and has served us well from caves to now.

There will be purists out there who say running isn’t running if there’s walking involved. I understand that. But let’s not be pig-headed about it. I’ve had horrendously tiring runs (my 18 miles in marathon training, which I’ve mentioned here before, was one of note) and I believe that if I had just taken some steps walking in amongst the hours of running, I would have finished quicker and a lot less sore.

imagesAnd if that doesn’t make you feel better about a bit of walking, then being in The Twilight Zone certainly should.


About Laura Alonso

We run. We travel. And to combine both is a beautiful thing. "Runners just do it. They go for the finish line even though someone else has reached it first."

Posted on February 23, 2013, in articles and reviews, Running, Training and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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