Walk to Strengthen Muscles
Slow down to get stronger and go longer. – By Jeff Galloway
Never underestimate the power of a good walk – and not just as a mid-run break. Going for a “pure” walk (no running at all) allows your body to make small adaptations that strengthen your feet, knees, and hips. Long, brisk walks can help boost your endurance. And walking as a means of cross-training gives your joints and running muscles a well-deserved break, which can help reduce or eliminate the aches and pains caused by running.
Here’s how (and when) to add walks to your routine to become a fitter runner.
Pay Attention to Form
Most walkers find an upright posture to be the most natural and comfortable. Take short steps to avoid over-striding, which can cause aches and pains in your legs, feet, and hips. Keep your feet low to the ground and step lightly.
Walk on a Running Day
When you’re substituting a walk for a run, take the number of minutes you would have run and double it. So for example, if you were going to do 30 minutes of running, walk for 60 minutes. You don’t have to complete the workout all at once – you can break it into two parts, going for a walk in the morning, say, then again in the evening.
Or Walk to Cross-Train
Walking on your non-running days is an efficient way of burning fat and increasing blood flow to aid recovery. It’s also a great way to break up your routine, stave off injury, and enjoy time with friends or family who may not run (yet!). On cross-training days, walk 30 to 60 minutes continuously or do five- to 10-minute segments throughout the day, as time allows. Keep the pace quick but conversational.
Change up Terrain
As with running, the more varied your walking route, the better workout you’ll get. If weather permits, walk a few hills (or walk the same hill a few times) or do several repeats of stairs at stadiums, campuses, or parks. When it’s too cold or slippery out, stair-wells are great venues for exercise. Do several flights a day – several times a day when possible – to build leg strength.