So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

We Make The Path...By Walking

Social media can be our best friend and our worst adversary, depending on our state of mind and the motives of the people with whom we choose to interact.

Keep those last few words in mind, if you will, from 'with whom.'

This week I originally planned to talk about the (relative) benefits of walking when compared to running.  It's one of those topics that I don't think I've considered (much) as a coach of runners, much less as a "self-coached runner."  Physician, author and ultra-runner Timothy Noakes dedicates two solid and introspective pages to it in the "Developiing a Training Base" chapter of his seminal work Lore of Running.

For those who have not purchased or accessed the book (one of those "if you were stuck in a place with only x number of books at your disposal" tomes) that is less than a "blip on the radar screen" in the grand scheme of the entire (800-page) work.

Runners don't like to talk much about walking because, Noakes writes, walking is what runners do when they can no longer run or have "failed" during their race performance.  The American ultra-runner/writer (and founding member of the Road Runners Club of America, if memory serves me correctly) Tom Osler first recommended walks as part of run training; it's (the disciples of?) former Olympic 10,000-meter runner-turned-running author Jeff Galloway who brought the walk interval to the mainstream running consciousness.  As I age I am less likely to deride Galloway for the democratization of running, save for the (highly-mistaken) assertion that every person can do a marathon.

As in the words of a good friend:  Just because you can doesn't mean that you should.

Not to mention the fact Galloway's statement humans were not meant to run long distances flies in the face of evolutionary biologist (and barefoot running heretic?) Daniel Lieberman's postulations in the pages of Christopher McDougall's barefoot running manifesto Born To Run.

This is starting to sound like one of those "the adversary of my adversary is my ally" realpolitik arguments.

But back to walking.  Which is how I spent my Sunday morning.  A rest day, mind you, but one where I felt someone (since my loving bride was out of town) needed to be out at the group run/jog/walk/traipse/shuffle/skip/amble/ get the picture without all the "slashing," I take it.  Just in case there was a walker.

So I did a solitary five miles out on the same course my companions would run, taking time to listen to the birds, squirrels and automobiles passing.  It was a nice change, relatively speaking.

Most every person understands that running and walking are not the same biomechanically, calorically, or cardiovascularly.  A 160-pound guy who runs a mile burns about 20 percent more calories than if he were to walk a mile, which might have something to do with the biomechanics of springing off the legs rather than extending from one leg to the other.  Or the effort taken to cool the body, perhaps.  A five-mile jaunt run rather than walked, then, adds an additional 100 calories "to the good" of our hypothetical 160-pounder.

But the varying biomechanics between long-distance walking and running might not be such a bad thing.   While running beats the beejeezus (there's a technical term which needs to enter the physiological realm) out of people, in most cases walking - unless it's done in extreme terrain - is less-likely to do the damage that running does.

Top this with the slower pace, which means the ability to observe, listen and ponder the myriad of sensations surrounding one's self...should one decide to not shove headphones into their ears...and the relative loss in single-occasion training benefit (negligible) might be compensated for by spiritual and emotional rejuvenation.  Of course, the proviso is that this activity be done in a solitary manner.  I've done more than my share of (longer) walks where by the end of the course we had ALL of the world's problems solved...but forgot to write down the solutions.


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