THE “W” WORD (PART 1)
When did walking become such a bad thing?
I recently read a post from an acquaintance boasting about how they finally completed an entire half marathon without walking a single step.
I was about to send them a congratulatory note on their race… then I continued reading their post.
They went on to say that they ran the entire race much slower than they’d wanted and even had difficulty finishing. Their time was one of their worst ever (and this person is all about their finisher’s time), yet they acted like the race was an unmitigated success… simply because they didn’t walk.
If their driving force is to get as fast a time as possible, why is that point ignored in the wake of “successfully” not walking?
Ummm, congrats? I guess.
And when asking other runners about their goal for an upcoming race, I’ve heard more than one person basically say they don’t care how they finish as long as they “run” the entire distance without having to walk.
One of my “unspoken” goals when racing is to not poop myself*. When I ran the San Diego Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon earlier this month I wrestled with a cramp, nasty blister and pulled hamstring.
My time was well off what I was hoping for, but since I finished “sans crap,” should I have taken a victory lap and showed the world the inside of my squeaky clean running shorts as proof positive that I’d achieved that goal? Clearly, this must have been my finest hour… simply because there were no feces to be found.
Seems a little silly, right?
Wait, the no pooping or no walking?
*Note: I’m batting 1.000 when it comes to no “Number Two” during races. Should I ever break my “no poop” streak you’ll be the first to hear about it… after I clean myself up, of course… in all of its self-deprecating (and self-defecating) glory.
I understand that achieving any goal you set is something to be relished and commended, but what I’d like to impart in today’s rambling is that walking is nothing to be feared or ever considered a sign of failure or weakness.
Why is there such a stigma surrounding walking during a race? Because supposedly “real” runners don’t walk?
I’m in the middle of watching the World Cup (Go USA!) and if you tune in, you’ll see that during the match these great soccer players can be seen walking from time to time. The ball is in play and yet these superstars are walking. But I certainly don’t think anyone would dare call Messi or Ronaldo slackers or poor athletes for not running the entire 90 minutes.
Hell, we’d all love to do an entire race at an all-out Six Million Dollar Man sound barrier breaking pace, but that’s just not possible.
To quote the wise and wonderful Jedi master Yoda: “Unlearn what you have learned.”
The key to running a good race starts with running smart. And walking can indeed be a very smart move.
And sometimes your goal is simply to walk.
I remember back to when I first learned how to walk. I was six months old and under a tremendous amount of pressure. I mean my parents had already bought me shoes and here I was putting their good money to waste, sitting around like a Huggies-clad bump on a log. Time to get to training.
It was damn tough. It took me months and months of hard work. I had already learned how to roll over and sit up, but that was child’s play compared to what lay ahead.
I took up crawling and worked at it night and day. Apparently, all I did for weeks on end was eat, sleep and crawl. I was a natural. According to my folks, I was a four legged speed demon and they nicknamed me “Kill, crush, destroy.”
Once I’d mastered my quadruped form of locomotion, I set up a new goal… to go bipedal. Again, more hard work as I first focused on standing without falling right back on my ass. And then one day, thanks to my hard work and dedication, I took my first few steps** across the living room.
**Note: I’m not sure what my pace was because Garmin doesn’t make a GPS for toddlers.
And you know what, I didn’t beat myself up because I wasn’t running the whole way. I was walking and damn proud of it. My parents snapped a whole bunch of polaroids (no iPhone back then) and dialed up my grandparents on the landline (again, no iPhone back then) to tell them about my achievement (no Facebook either).
Yup, I was pretty damn proud of myself. Unfortunately, I had also pooped my pants somewhere along the way so I don’t know if you can count it as a complete success. FYI, I didn’t institute my “dookie free” requirement until years later.
Yes, it apparently all does come back to poo.
All scatological references aside, in a race the goal is to get from A to B, no matter whether you stroll, sprint, saunter, skip, schlepp, scamper or scuttle (yay alliteration).
Be proud of walking.
If you need to take a break, then take a break. I guarantee you there will be plenty of race left to run.
And for those of you who still feel that walking is something to be avoided in a race, tune in tomorrow for “The W Word, Part 2” and watch me jump up on my soapbox and try to show you that walking can make you an even faster runner.
Walk.. and Run on!
(What’s your opinion of walking during a race… perfectly fine, “do what you gotta” or avoid at all costs?)