Posted by: thehungryrunner | June 29, 2008

1:1 Run/walk Ratio: A great tool to add to your running bag of tricks!

Recently, I found myself needing a change for my morning run.  The thought of running continuously just didn’t sit well with me; something I ate the day before was not agreeing with me, and I just felt a bit sore.  Knowing I’d rather crawl on broken glass than ditch a workout (I crave those daily endorphins as much as I crave that morning cup of coffee!), and yet not wanting to opt for a walk in lieu of a planned run, I struck my usual magic compromise and chose a run/walk interval session.  As I dashed out the front door and took that first sweet breath of the fragrant morning air, I contemplated what rhythm to follow for the workout.  Spontaneous or fixed?  One mile runs followed by one-minute walks?  Block-to-block switches?  So many options, especially since there is just about no ratio I have not followed, with what I call my “1/2/3/4 pattern” being one of my favorites (I’ll have to elaborate on that one, some other time).

But I quickly decided to go for the ultra-simple 1:1 ratio:  a minute of running followed by a minute of walking.  I had set aside a full 90 minutes, which means by the end of the outing, I would accumulate approximately 45 minutes each of running and walking, which (for me) roughly translates to 4-5 miles of running, plus a little less than 3 miles of walking, for a grand total of maybe 7.5 or so miles covered.  Not bad!

But what I truly enjoy about this arrangement is how fast the time flies, how much it allows me to enjoy the scenery (sometimes when I’m running continuously I get very focused on my exertion and little else), how easy and comfortable it is on my joints…. and YES, how challenging it is!  With such short spurts of  running, you can definitely be more aggressive, knowing that you’re only a minute away from a walking break, and while you may not want to use the entire allocated time for speed work, certainly you can take advantage and flex those metabolic systems in different ways than you do a continuous run.  Plus, no matter what your speeds, the constant change of activity ensures you’re putting out a hefty number of calories (trust me, you’ll work up a mighty sweat after just a few cycles), as your body is constantly having to adapt to the change of muscles used and levels of intensity.  I emerged feeling refreshed and energized, with a happy reminder not to overlook this 1:1 walk/run workout as both a formidable training tool and enjoyable alternative to the usual running routine! 

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