Running Well with a Timer—Transitions and Speed Work
Four years ago I returned to running with my beatup body. At first I tried to run continually, but the stress on my mangled legs and hips was too much. I’d had enough pain and I had no desire to have more.
I wondered if I was pushing myself too much. But I believe our bodies are meant to move and we should be able to do it injury free. And reading books like The Ultramarathon Man and Born to Run inspired me. So I figured with time and patience I might be able to not only run, but to run well, meaning without injuries and enjoying it.
So, as I’ve written, I became a proud member of the run/walk/run crowd and that transformed my running. Taking regular walking break prevented injuries and allowed my legs (and lungs) to slowly get stronger. So I’ve become a big fan of walking breaks and I’ve sent many of you to JeffGalloway.com for timers. (I’m thinking Jeff owes me a dinner soon)
While taking walking breaks can make running enjoyable and can prevent many injuries, there is one thing to think about… the transitions. Going from walking to running tends to be smooth, because we naturally lean forward slightly and slowly begin running.
But it’s easy to go from running to walking too quickly, which can put extra stress on our hips, knees and/or ankles.
At first I ran so slow, that the transitions from running to walking weren’t a problem. But as my legs got stronger, I started running slightly faster (still slow by many standards, but for me, it’s flying). Plus then I started using the timer and hearing it beep for a walking break was such a beautiful sound, that I’d stop running… instantly. Talk about high stress on my joints!
On the other hand, sometimes hearing the timer beep at the end of a walking break sounds anything but beautiful and there might be some
After having some minor aches and pains in my knees and ankles, I wondered if my transitions were to blame. So instead of viewing the beep as my invitation to abruptly stop running, I view it as a signal to get ready to walk. Now I continue to run a few more steps, allowing myself to naturally slow down to a walk.
And what a difference that has made. Yes, it shortens my walking time by a few seconds, but that’s okay, painfree knees and ankles are worth it.
I’ve also recently started using my timer to get some speed work in as I train for my upcoming races, the Runner’s World Half and the NYC marathon. For a long time, I couldn’t do any speed work, because as soon as I would sprint, my legs/feet hurt too much. While speed work is not a must, it can make you stronger and help you in a race.
So as my legs have gotten stronger I’ve started doing a little, but running in circles at a track bores me, so I’m been doing a number of 5ks and using them as my speed workouts.
I keep my timer set at 3/1, but when it beeps for a walking break, I slowly increase my running until I’m sprinting. I count to 15 or 20 (depends how ambitious I feel) and then slow down to a walk. Yes it cuts into my walking time, but I don’t need that long walking breaks during a 5k. Plus it gives me a speed workout. The only thing I have to be careful of is that I keep my transitions smooth by naturally slowing up to a walk after the sprints.
So step by step, experiment by experiment, I continue to learn how to take care of this body of mine. And the cool thing is, it continues to get stronger and the pain from my damaged nerves continues to decrease. Running well rocks!