Sometimes You’ve Got to Accept That It’s OK to Walk

One of my favorite aspect of being an Altra Ambassador is getting to know so many amazing runners through the ambassador FB page. Every time I hear about the things they are doing, I always question why Altra would pick me to represent their brand in the same space as these truly amazing runners.

Recently, one of my fellow ambassadors Arianne Brown posted an article that she wrote that was published on The Spectrum (A Gannett Company) that really spoke to me.

So much so, that I wanted to share it with you guys. Enjoy.

Don’t Be Discouraged When Run Becomes a Walk

It's OK to Walk

Photo Credit: Lori Burlison

As I rounded the corner to begin the final lap of my very first 800 meter run in the sixth grade, my legs felt like lead. I stopped to walk, and as I did, I watched the first place girl continue on with the same quick stride, finishing meters ahead of anyone.

I had never felt more defeated. Here I had entered a running race, and I could not run, but had to walk the entire second half of the race.

It was then when I decided that walking wasn’t an option. I loved the feeling of running, and stopping to walk in the middle of a run, just didn’t seem right.

I worked hard on building my endurance, eventually building enough stamina to sustain me through 800 meters — the race that strangely enough, became my specialty in high school and college.

And while there were times that I felt like walking, I never did. I remembered the defeat I felt at that first track meet, and never let myself go there.

Over the years, I began to build my endurance to where I could run a 5K, then a 10K, and eventually a half marathon, then a marathon.

With each distance I had completed, I held great pride in the fact that I never stopped to walk. I had always stayed true to what I felt the challenge of the event was: to run from start to finish, as fast as you could without stopping — not even to walk.

All that changed when I entered my first ultra-distance race. It was the Zion 50K in 2014. After 27 miles, my legs began to burn, and I found that running was no longer an option. I tried to walk, but loathed every slow step I took. I was a runner, and I didn’t come here to walk.

I threw in the towel, and vowed that the next time I attempted that distance, I would run every-single-step.

My next attempt was the Bryce Canyon 50K. I figured that If I ran slower at the start, then my legs would not tire as easily, and I would be able to continue my constant running motion toward the finish.

No such luck.

As was the case in the previous race, I came to a point where I could no longer run. My legs gave way, and I was forced to walk. It was that moment, when I was passed my a man, who was not running, but walking.

“You got this,” he said. “Just keep moving forward.”

In my pridefulness, I had forgotten what the real meaning of the race was. It wasn’t about running, but about moving forward toward the finish at the fastest pace I could, and if that meant walking, so be it.

So I walked. I walked as fast as my legs would let me.

Eventually, my legs had enough walking, and were ready to run again.

Walking was not the end-all, but a means to keep me moving forward until they had enough strength to resume running.

I finished that 50K, and have done a couple of them since.

No longer am I discouraged when my run becomes a walk. After all, walking still moves me toward my new goal: to keep moving in constant forward motion toward the finish.

Arianne Brown is a mother of 6, and Southern Utah native. For more writings by her, search “A Mother’s Write” on Facebook. You can contact her at ariannebrown1@gmail.com, or follow her on Twitter @arimom6.

I don’t know how many times I’ve felt like a failure when I’ve stopped to walk, both in races and in training.

While the goal might still be to run the whole thing, never forget that the moral of the story is to keep moving forward.

Thanks for the reminder, Arianne.

Do You Ever Feel Bad If/When You Stop to Walk During a Training Run or Race?

6 replies
    • Denny
      Denny says:

      It can be a tough pill to swallow at times, but once you stomach the thought it can be really beneficial!

      Reply
  1. Russ
    Russ says:

    I run/walk/run and in my first marathon was on-pace to finish in 5 hours. Until mile 20. My foot acted up and I could only limp along. Started walking with a lady who was on pace for a 4:30 finish but her calves had frozen. We walked and talked until the final bend of the course and did all we could to run-hobble the last 4/10ths for a finish in 5:52. It’s my PR, and I want to do better.

    Because I run/walk/run, I fight pride at the **beginning** of the race. A couple minutes in and I’m taking my scheduled walk break all the while my brain is screaming at me to not look like a loser in front of all these other runners…until the middle of the race where I start passing people who shot off at an unsustainable pace and are now out of gas.

    Reply
    • Denny
      Denny says:

      You always have to run your own race! And with long races, your plan is designed to help you at the end of the race when you’re feeling rough. It takes discipline to stick with the plan early, but the reward (usually) comes at the end of the race.

      Reply
  2. Micah Ward
    Micah Ward says:

    Nothing wrong with walking. I’ve “run” three marathons and three 50K ultras. If I had not walked at various point along the way I wouldn’t have finished any of them! Heck, I walked some in my last half marathon.

    Reply

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