How I Learned to Walk

Rewind.  Remember when I ran the TCS New York City Marathon?  Yeah, so do I.

Rewind again.  Remember when I ran the Navy Air-Force Half Marathon in DC?  Ummhmm, I remember that too.

Well, then we all remember that I got very overheated and sick after that half marathon and nearly deferred my entry for the marathon.  I was terrified of getting sick again, not being able to finish a race, disappointing myself… not be able to do something I love- run distance.

What ya’ll may not know is how I’ve worked to overcome that fear and physical reaction.  To meet my body half way and find a way to run safely and enjoy it…  first, I had to learn to walk.

Yup, you read that right- WALK.

I walked a lot during the NYC Marathon and all the other half marathons sense.  I walk during long training runs and really any other time I feel like it’s what my body needs.  Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t fall into a “tourist stroll” no no!  I keep up a nice power walk pace and can smoothly transition from a jog to a walk and back again. I keep my legs and arms moving, I keep my breath steady, and my posture correct.  But I slow down a little which gives my body a change to cool off.

For both the Maine Coast Half Marathon and the Brooklyn Half this month (reviews coming your way soon), I worked with a walk-a-mile/run-a-mile game plan after mile 4 or so.  Alternating gave me time to consume gels and water as well as cool down.  This was also time to take in the surroundings and enjoy each race a little more knowing I would finish feeling good!  At the end of the day, this was the desired outcome.  Sure maybe my pace has taken a slight hit, but I’m not going for a PR every time I run and if I keep pushing it so I get sick, eventually there will not be a next time.

At first, yes, this whole “walk if and as you need too” was very hard to accept.  It felt like failure.  Like I was lazy and not working hard enough.  The thing is though, that I was training right and eating right and it was still happening.  I wasn’t being lazy– I wasn’t listening to my body.

Completing 13.1 or 26.2 is nothing to sneeze at!  No matter how you do it.

Sense I started this method, I have felt so much better while racing and while living my life afterwards.  Less pain, no getting sick, and I can actually enjoy the rest of the day after a morning race!

Finishing each race that I start on my own two feet, this is what really matters to me.

While I was running the Maine Coast Half Marathon a few weeks ago, I was thinking about this post.  Actually, I was in a “walking mile” while I was thinking about it… and I had an experience I won’t soon forget.

A woman came up behind me and passed on the left.  OK, totally normal.

As she passed she asked, “Are you walking this whole thing?”

I nearly fell over (or slapped her)!

I replied, “No, just every other mile” and managed a smile… continuing on the rest of my walk mile and the rest of the race… but I was actually pretty annoyed by the comment.

For me, racing is personal.  I don’t want to talk to anyone, I want to be with myself in the moment of every step of each mile.  I’ve never had someone say something to me in a race.  Sure, usually I participate in much larger races that have a different caliber of runner, but also there are just so many people you can’t talk to everyone, so you don’t say anything.  (Unless it’s something encouraging while going up a big hill or approaching the finish, we all cheer and support one another).

But this woman stayed with me.  I mean that literally!  She was alternating run/walk as well!  So for the next few miles- up to the finish when I couldn’t let her cross before me and I pushed through with an amazing finish sprint- we played a little unspoken tag, I’d pass her as she walked and she would pass me when she started running again and I would have started walking again.  All the while I was thinking about this post.

Because in that moment with her, I realized SO MUCH!  It shouldn’t matter to anyone if I’m walking in a race.  No one but me… and well, now all of you… know what I’m working through or what I have going on.

The long and short message- I walk in all of my major races and it’s the best thing I’ve allowed myself to do.  Yes, at first I felt like I was failing and not worthy to take on these major races.   But now, now I am finishing races and not feeling like I’m doing to die.  I feel stronger and happier during and after each race.  I’ve accepted what works for me so that I can continue doing something that I love.  I not longer feel like a failure, I feel like I can take on any course and any race I pin on a number for!


What helps you through long runs?  Share, comment, and like! Most importantly, don’t worry about what anyone else says or thinks, this is just for you.



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