The importance of walk breaks for long distance runners

Long slow distance (LSD) runs are designed be build endurance over a long period of time and distance. During training it is important to put the body through periods of stress and rest. Stress builds muscles and will make the body stronger, while the rest period provides recovery and prepares the body for the rest […]

Health Running Brian Webb

This article was published on February 10th, 2014

Photo credit: Jay MinterLong slow distance (LSD) runs are designed be build endurance over a long period of time and distance. During training it is important to put the body through periods of stress and rest. Stress builds muscles and will make the body stronger, while the rest period provides recovery and prepares the body for the rest round of stress.

Incorporating short walk breaks into long runs, a runner can extend their distance and increase their performance. It also trains the body to adapt to the strain of running long distances over a longer period of time.

Most training programs use a 10:1 routine; run for 10 minutes and walk for 1 minute. Throughout the 17 weeks of training, walk breaks make it easier to add the additional 10% increase of distance to the weekly long run. Faster runners, those who are training for a 3:30 or faster marathon finish time, should take 20:1 walk breaks.

As the body approaches the anaerobic threshold at 85% of the maximum heart rate, the body starts producing lactic acid, leaving legs feeling heavy and making the stomach feeling queasy. Walk breaks also help to flush out lactic acid. The short one minute walk breaks also act a stretch period, allowing the muscles in the leg to perform better through gentle stretches of the leg muscles.

Runners who do not take walk breaks will tend to slow down near the end of a long run. A runner who use walk breaks will have an easier time maintaining a steady and consistent pace.

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