A Study in Walking

Not being able to run for 3 months post shoulder surgery has given me the opportunity to study walking speed. As I have learned the last year, the line between walking and running is blurred (ie. going up hills) and walking is OK, something most every ultrarunner will do during a long race – sometimes planned just to destress load on the body. Recall the blog I had last year where it was easier to run 12 miles when it was broken up into 2 mile segments even with 30 burpee pull ups in between. I’ve been thinking that that may be why the Killington spartan ultra race, although with an added 12,000′ of elevation, was easier than running 31 miles straight on flatter ground which also started hurting my hips.

So for the last 9 weeks, I’ve been walking, walking lunging, air squatting, etc as my shoulder heals back to the bone. “Easy” walking turns out to be around 20″ miles. Just the last two weeks I’ve tried to pick it up and see how fast I can go walking. A few observations:

  • By blurring that line, you will naturally soften your knees, which must be better for you
  • On pavement, I am now going 13:57″ per mile even with hillwork mixed in
  • Arms are at 90 deg and I am looking more like a power walker
  • My cadence with short steps, as I do in running, is 145, which destresses load on knees/hips also
  • Videos on internet show fast walkers doing heal strikes, which I don’t agree with
  • The fastest hill I ever did to date at Nashoba felt this way – consistent motion forward with soft knees/like gliding up the hill

So next time I am in a race, trying to be mindful, I have realized now that thoughtfulness about how I walk can save me minutes per mile. last weekend I did some trail walking trying to mimic the form on road and with some elevation (830′ over 90″) only got down to 18″/mile (on downhill portion). This gave me an appreciation for how much just trails slow you down, let alone elevation gain.

Trail flat pace still seems to be over 20″/mile. After seeing the faster road pace, I was starting to think I had been a slacker on my trail runs with over 20″/mile pacing and feel better having done this test.

Post blog addition 9/8/20: So I’ve been youtubing and realizing that what I am doing is “running”, not power walking or race walking where you do heel strikes and have straight legs. Am going to give that a try tonite!

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