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