Walk It Out

Coming from road running I always regarded walking as something only for beginners and the seriously unfit. Being able to run a long hill all the way to the top, or not, was the dividing line between runner and jogger.

Come Trail running and very soon I learnt that on the mountain certain hills are humanly impossible to run (even by the Professionals!) and that walking is a serious skill, not a weakness. A skill that has seen me struggling to keep up on climbs with many a “slow” runner!

After much self-experimentation, I have reached the conclusion that the experts were right (runners are a stubborn bunch!) On steep or very technical trail, walking is often faster and more energy efficient than running. So, it is time for this runner to learn to “walk it out”!

Time yourself using different techniques and find what works best for you. Keep in mind that as the terrain changes you might need to change techniques. Some are:

  • Swinging the arms vigorously to power forwards
  • Leaning forwards and pushing down with both hands on the leading leg as you step
  • Putting one hand in the other behind your back
  • Making use of Poles – if allowed in the race

Be sure to:

  • Walk tall. Bending over at the waist will restrict your breathing (this is one con of the hands on knees technique)
  • Keep your eyes focused ahead of you
  • Find your optimum stride length
  • Choose the line of least resistance
  • Remain focused on powering off the ground and getting the most out of every step
  • Run all the runnable bits. However short. They all add up

How can you train for better walking?

  • Practice walking similar hills to the race
  • Do stair repeats
  • Get Stronger with exercises such as lunges, step ups and box jumps. If your race has long slopes then do lunges and step ups on a sloped surface
  • Improve core strength
  • Indoors, walk on a treadmill raised to its highest incline
Coach Kathleen

About Coach Kathleen

As an athlete Kathleen has competed at high levels across all the running disciplines, track, road, cross country and trail running as well as internationally in triathlon. She has a personal best of 2 hours 45 min for the marathon and most recently has been part of the winning ladies team in the AfricanX trail race for the last 2 years.

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4 thoughts on “Walk It Out

  1. hi coach, how does one get in contact with you? training for 100km trail event and in need of professional advise and guidance.

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