First run in 9 months!

As a slightly nuerotic, somewhat perfectionist, type-A personality, I have been getting my pent-up energy out through swimming, biking, walking … basically everything EXCEPT for running.  Now that I'm 12 weeks out from the 2011 Boston Marathon, I decided it was probably a good idea to actually do some, well, RUNNING!  However, I still have busted knees and want to preserve, as much as possible, whatever is left of my cartilage.

I've been hearing a lot about run/walk plans from friends and through reading various articles.  Some use run/walk programs to get up to a sustained 30 minutes of jogging, such as in the Cool Running (promoted by SparkPeople "Couch to 5K") program.  These types of plans are great for people who don't really run or are trying to begin a finess program.

Although I haven't been running, I have been exercising regularly and doing 1 hour and as much as 2 hours of sustained cardio.  And, even though I'm not an elite runner by any stretch of the imagination, I do pride myself in never having walked in a race from the 800 meter to 26.2 mile distance.  So… I suppose I'm kind of a "snob" and it seemed like a cop-out to walk.  This article on RunnersWorld.com started to change my mind and gave my perfectionist self "permission" to walk.

After doing some more reading, there is some good rationale for the run/walk idea, particularly for the longer distance races.  While I don't know that this will definitively reduce my risk of injury as compared with simply running with no breaks, it is logical to predict that it would.  Jeff Galloway is one proponent of the run/walk idea.  I actually read a lot from his website in early 2009 when I was considering running my first half and full marathons, but didn't pursue it further.  Now, some of the points sound very attractive – preserving energy for the later parts of the race, utilizing different muscles when walking as compared with running, etc.  And, Galloway predicts that you only add 20 seconds or so for every minute that you walk.  So, if you walk one minute for 25 of the 26 miles of a marathon (as the Runner's World article proposes), you would add 500 seconds or about 8 minutes to your total time.

Today, I walked more frequently than that, using Galloway's 4 minute run, 35 second walk approach, even though my pace was closer to 10 min/mile than 8 min/mile.  This carried me through a little over 3 miles in 30 minutes, and it felt pretty great!  It was NOT easy despite my preconceived notion that it would be.  We'll see how my legs are holding up later this week.

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