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Walking a brief recovery interval during your run relieves your muscles.
Completing a half-marathon is a lofty goal, but the key word to keep in mind -- especially if you have decided to undertake your very first half -- is "completing," not necessarily "running." You'll need about 18 weeks to safely train for this 13.1-mile race. You may find the task far less daunting, and more rewarding, on a run-walk schedule.
Three Training Runs
Running intervals is one of the best ways to improve your running performance. Try running a pyramid interval where you run at a hard pace for two , four, six, eight, six, four and then two minutes, taking a one minute walk-break in between each. The second type of training run you should be doing is tempo runs, where you jog easily for a couple of miles, then run at a comfortably hard pace -- where you can't speak in more than choppy phrases -- for two or three miles, then jog your last mile. There are no walk breaks during your tempo runs. Lastly, nothing can replace your long runs, which can build up to half-marathon distance or beyond. You should do long runs once per week, and help prevent the risk of overtraining by giving your body a reprieve from the jarring impact of running by stopping for walk breaks after every mile during your long run.
Take it Mile By Mile
Even veteran runners have improved their times and avoided injury and fatigue by adopting a run-walk technique. In order to train by this technique, you will need to incorporate one minute walk-breaks after every mile during your long runs. During the race, you can walk for one minute after you pass each mile-marker on the course. This also gives you time to hydrate and take in fuel, if you need to. In addition to keeping your physically fresh, it will break the race into manageable segments as "one more mile, one more mile" becomes your mantra between walk breaks.
Why Walk Breaks Work
Running guru Jeff Galloway explains that your muscles are used differently in walking than they are in running. The constant strain of running, he says, fatigues those muscles very quickly. Taking walk breaks helps to distribute the workload between your running muscles and your walking muscles, allowing you to perform better, recover faster, and avoid overuse injuries. He says that taking walk breaks before you begin to fatigue is key to maximizing performance, which is why adopting a one minute walk break at every mile marker during the half marathon is a smart idea.
A run mile run followed by a one minute walk can help you achieve your half-marathon goal while reducing your injury risk and increasing your performance. You can train this way during your long runs in order to help prevent training fatigue and injury, and have a little check-in with your body to see how you're doing. Galloway cautions, however, that you should allow for a slower pace when running in temperatures above 60 degrees. Practice with hydration and fueling techniques before race day so that you know what your body can handle, and remember to stay well hydrated all through your training.