The Benefits of Walking for Runners

There are a lot of benefits of walking for runners. Time and time again, I’ve heard runners say: “if you walk, you aren’t really running,” but that is far from the truth. Did you know some professional ultra-marathoners walk? Or during many of my trail runs, it’s actually faster and better to walk? Yes, there are benefits of walking for runners.

Benefits of walking for runners

So What are the benefits of walking for runners?

We can talk about walking while running but also “going for a walk There is a lot of benefit of walking for runners from building aerobic fitness, to gaining overall fitness, decreasing the risk of heart disease and even socialization benefits too. .”

Miles are Miles:

As cliche as it sounds, whether you’ve walked 3 miles or run 3 miles, you’ve still gone 3 miles. As someone who speed walkers have passed, I can assure you that they are still miles, and you might even go faster by walking.

Walking Lowers of the Risk of Heart Disease and Stroke:

Walking regularly helps strengthen the heart, which can lower the risk of both heart disease and stroke.  Studies show that walking for 30 minutes daily can decrease the risk of chronic heart disease by 19%.

Walking Helps You Sleep:

How does that happen? Studies show that people who are more active during the day will sleep better. That includes running and walking! That isn’t just a benefit of walking for runners, but it’s a benefit for anyone!

Walking Can Increase Lung Capacity:

We know lungs are important for running (of course!). Daily walking of about 30 minutes a day can strengthen the lungs. One of the best aerobic benefits of walking for runners is strengthening your lungs. Breathing will feel easier and smoother, and lungs will stay healthier.

Walking Benefits the Immune System:

Immunity is a hot topic during the pandemic. Walking can help boost your immune system and keep you healthier. While you aren’t going to prevent sickness (and please don’t believe anything that tries to sell you that you will), walking can help boost your immune system.

Walking Helps with Recovery:

One of the biggest benefits of walking for runners is recovery. Walking is much easier on the joints than running, which means less impact and less of a chance of injury.  Walking can even help alleviate aches and pains that have been caused by running. Try walking for 20-30 minutes in the evening after a long run. You might find you are less stiff.

Walking Helps Build Strength: 

It’s also great for strengthening key muscle groups used when running, like calves, quads, hamstrings, and glutes, without putting them at risk of damage, which is great for pretty much everyone, but significantly higher in individuals at a greater risk of injury, like the elderly or people with muscular problems.

Walking Can Help Your Running Endurance:

One of the major benefits of walking for runners is building endurance. Walking helps strengthen feet, build leg strength, increase lung capacity and reduce stress.

Many ultrarunners use walk-runs to complete long distances. Walking allows you to push your body to go further without the stress of running. You also long more time on your feet. Adding walking can boost your endurance and set you up for adding more miles later on with less risk of injury.

The Run-Walk Method:

Speaking of run-walking, many runners forget that walk-running is still running. In fact, it can be faster and better for running. There have been some runs (such as running up Mount Diablo) that walk-running was far more efficient than running the entire time. I was less tired and moved faster. Of course, I counted it as running and exercise! Sometimes, we can get so singularly focused that running is the end-all, be-all, but it’s not.

Socialization:

Maybe not a direct benefit to running, but walking can benefit runners in social ways too! Not many runners run the same pace. A big benefit of walking for runners is socializing without sitting around or going out for a meal. You can share walks with most people, and it’s a safe and relaxing way to catch up with family and friends. Walking is one of my favorite ways to do that!

So benefits of walking for runners are real? 

Yes, and you can truly enhance your running by adding walking. You don’t need to do too much, but walking has great benefits for any runner.

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Questions for you:

Do you enjoy walking?

What is some benefit of walking for runners you’ve come across?