Sometimes as a runner it might be tempting to forget the benefits of walking. When you are straining towards a goal it can be easy to want to let go of things that might not move you towards your goal. Where does that leave walking? Does walking move you on towards your goal? It certainly does.
If you are new to running walking can help get you to your goal of running certain distances as you start on your journey (or start back on your journey as the case may be). By walking and then running and then walking again (a method popularized in our time by the famous olympian and coach Jeff Galloway) you will be able to build up your endurance to run for longer periods of time with a much lower chance of injury. This makes walking a clear win for new runners and people getting “back at it” after an extended period of time.
Now what about walking for people who are already in shape and perhaps even meeting the goals they are setting for themselves in running (whether that is times, distances, stress-relief, or as one part of a get healthier plan). I think walking is also valuable for this group of runners as well. One of the things that runners tend to skip when they are short on time is a warm-up and a cool-down. If you have been sedentary all day and will likely be sedentary after your run as well it is a bad idea to skip your warm-up and cool-down. Going from not moving to high-output activity and then abruptly stopping again is not going to make your runs and the effects of your runs feel better. And while I have many warm-ups and cool-downs I could recommend I know that you could walk for a bit before and after your run and be a lot better off for it. And you don’t have to learn anything new or buy any additional equipment. You can just walk and you will feel better.
There is another group I would like to mention that should not look down on walking or pay any mind to those who would cast aspersions on them for “doing too little.” That group is those people who are not sure they ever could “be a runner.” Now while I have a lot I would like to say about this I will keep it brief. If you have thought about running but are not sure if you ever could, I suggest you walk. You may be overweight. You may be out of shape. Perhaps you did or still do smoke. Perhaps you are intimidated by the activity because of all the images you see on social media and all the conversations you overhear in your own life from runners and you think, “I could never do that.” Well, I think most of you really could- but I know everyone feels better when they move more. I recommend you just start taking walks. Don’t even worry about whether or not you ever run or “become a runner.” Just go for a walk every day- or even just start with a couple days a week. Walking is a gift and it is a beautiful way to move and experience your body and see your community in a way that you never will in a car.
I think at the end of the day the thing I would like to remind people of or commend to them is that walking is neither a sign of weakness nor is it somehow less valuable than running. Not only is it valuable for runners- but it is also a gift to all humans. If you ever have it taken away from you I think you would understand that perhaps we have not always given walking enough credit. If you can walk you should and just remember that it is a gift.