Skip navigation

40043 Views 140 Replies Latest reply: Aug 17, 2011 7:05 PM by Mtaurus575 RSS 1 2 3 ... 10 Previous Next
TizzyO'Grady Amateur 33 posts since
Mar 2, 2010
Currently Being Moderated

Aug 4, 2010 2:36 PM

In Defense of the Marathon Walker

Hello fellow walkers!

 

I've been enjoying your posts for some time now and I decided today was the day to jump in on the discussion.  I've been walking seriously since I was 11 months old for just over a year now, after 2 decades of trying to be a runner.  Words cannot describe the peace I feel now that I have acknowledged to myself and others that no matter how hard I try, running is not for me.  The iced knees, the aching hips and the burning lungs -- and that was just after a mile!  No, I'm a walker and in making peace with that fact, I decided that I would find new and challenging ways to push myslef within the confines of the walking community so that I could feel really good about my new sport.

 

Once I settled into my new walking routine and began talking about it, a new snobbery revealed itself in the form of the fellow walker question "what type of walking do you do?"  "Err, the regular one foot in front of the other kind."  "No, no, no,  power walking? fitness walking? race walking?"  "Um, race walking I guess"-- I said that because power walking sounded really intense and difficult and fitness walking sounded like the people who walk around carrying weights and race walking just sounded like, well, walking fast -- so I went with that.  Then I Googled it.  Oh, crap.

 

Now I had to learn how to race walk.  So, I bought a book, I bought a CD, I got up extra early because who would want to look all disjointed and crazy like that while people were watching, right?  But guess what?  I went from a 14 minute mile to a 12:30 mile in a couple of weeks!!  I was increasing my distance too.  Race walking takes concentration -- if regular walking is like driving an automatic car, then race walking is like driving a stick, because there is thought required and I found that to be a really wonderful thing.  Now mind you, I've had no formal training and I would never "qualify" for a true race walking event because the rules for that are insane.  But I'm employing the techniques and I'm improving on my goal which is basically very simple -- just walk as fast as I can, as far as I can, as often as I can. On average, that's anywhere from 70 to 100 miles a month.

 

Okay, enough background.  I want to write about marathon walking and my observations from the 2 most recent (and only) Half Marathons events in which I participated  -  The Flying Pig Half Marathon in Cincinnati (loved it) and the Rock n Roll Chicago Half Marathon in well, Chicago of course (liked it).  The tone and tenor could not be more different for these 2 races.  In Cincinnati, the race is truly a civic event with the good folks lining the streets and businesses adopting the pig theme all weekend long.  It's hard not to be drawn into the excitement and for a first-timer like myself; it was a nice soft landing into marathon walking.  The weather was frightful, but I finished in under 2:50 and was so thrilled, I quickly came home and signed up for the Rock n Roll Chicago.

 

Chicago was a different beast.  Suffice it to say that the citizens of Chicago (of which I am one) are not necessarily enchanted with another marathon rerouting their already snarled traffic.  People did cheer, but mostly they tolerated.  It was hot, humid and altogether stifling.  I beat my Cincinnati time by one minute.  It was work, but I still loved it and was anxious to sign on for the next challenge.  But, this is where it all gets tricky because I've noticed in both races that there seems to be a universal backlash coming from the runners that we, the walkers, are somehow ruining their marathons.

 

I don't buy this purist mentality toward the marathon experience.  How do I ruin the race for you?  If I start in a far back corral (which I should, because you do indeed move faster than I do) and I stay to the right (which I do as often as is possible), what have I done to diminish your race?  Interestingly enough, I find myself walking amongst and keeping pace with runners/joggers and I find it frustrating when they just stop running right in front of me -- just switch to walking -- and practically cause a pile up.  They do not apologize however, because I am only a walker and shouldn't really be there anyway.

 

I walk my race with all the drive and determination that you run yours.  I walk through the water stations and the Gu stations dodging your debris and oh yes, let's not forget about your loogies -- you don't look before you spit, and that's just really too much.  I do this all with the sheepish feeling that I somehow don't belong.  The message boards on the marathon website light up after a race with complaints about walkers.  One comment noted that doing a marathon used to mean something -- those days were over once they decided to let walkers participate.  Last I checked, running, jogging, walking were all individual sports.  If I follow the basic rules of etiquette (no walking 3 across and chatting in a marathon -- on this we can all agree), what does it matter if I'm there?  You don't even see me because you're home in the shower before I finish.

 

So, that's what I needed to get off my chest today.  Sorry it turned into a rant.  Most of you probably haven't stuck around to read all this, but if you did, I would love to hear about your experiences.  And yes, I know not every runner feels this way -- you welcoming and encouraging runners do not need to defend yourselves -- I appreciate your support and I feel it on the course.   In closing I say to my fellow marathoners of all speeds -- you run your race, and I'll walk mine.  Peace.

  • VETTE42 Rookie 1 posts since
    Feb 16, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    1. Aug 5, 2010 5:01 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    I've tried to run and I just don't get it, too much pain!  I have walked 4 half marathons and will do my fifth this November.  After  the first, I was so proud of myself that nobody could get me down.  But as the years have gone by and I have gotten closer to the running communtiy, I get the feeling that we walkers are second class citizens.  I'm not sure why this is.  I put in my miles, improve my times, increase the distance.  I just don't puke, pass out or ever stop.  My hips don't hurt, my knees don't ache, my toes are still pretty.  Logged a 11:47 mile this week, I walk and I rock!!! 

  • GarethEdwards Amateur 12 posts since
    Aug 13, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    2. Aug 13, 2010 2:18 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Hi Tizzy,

     

    I agree with you - why cain't the farmer and the cowman both be friends?

     

    I came to walking from having run a couple of half-marathons, joined a running club and competed for them in the track league.  Entered my first walk (first since I left school 45 years ago) just to earn points for the club, won my age group, and started to take it a bit more seriously.

     

    I still run, however...last month, doing a 5k race I was overtaken by a woman WALKING...so, I put in a shift over the last 1k, just overtook her before the finish and beat her by a couple of seconds.  Said something like "Good walking" to her.  Following morning, checked the results and found that she had collected 2 bronze and 1 silver medals in the walk at the Commonwealth games over a period of 12 years.

  • WalkWoman Rookie 1 posts since
    Aug 23, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    3. Aug 23, 2010 8:30 PM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Boy, do I hear you! Since I started serious power/race walking I've not only gained a greater knowledge of my personal strengths and capabilities and but - sadly - a greater knowledge of many of my brethren trail 'companions'.


    Some runners seem to have the same regard (*see: Disdain*) for walkers such as myself who - I might add  have outpaced some of them whilst doing my lil-ole-walkin-thang as I sensed from downhill skiers toward myself & other cross-country skiers. 


    IMO, the essence of disparity in both these scenarios appears to be: Speed as opposed to Style, Performance, Personal Physical & Mental Perks & Sheer Dedication.  Individual senses of accomplishment & empowerment can and should be shared by runners, joggers & power/race walkers as well as any other like-minded & well-intentioned athletic enthusiast.

     

    Perhaps the most important equality factor amongst all those who endeavor to improve or fulfill themselves in whatever sport they pursue should be Respect!


    I can, however, commiserate 'disdain' toward the three-abreast chorus line of walkers w/ or w/o their entourage of over-sized baby strollers; as well as the irresponsible & discourteous dogwalker;  and the cell-phone-gabbing & texting gaggle of teenagers; not to mention the hot-dogging cyclist precariously careening around bends and who wouldn't burn half the calories in an hour of speed-cycling as I do in half the time speed walking.  But just as annoying & inconsiderate are those three-abreast, chatty walkers, I've been confronted w/three-deep walls of over a dozen+ runners who've nearly rolled over me like a barrage of tanks no matter how far to the right I've moved.  Just recently I encountered their  tenacity to "own the road"  when I was nearly sent clamoring over the rocky edge of a reservoir trail I use regularly.  When I yelled ahead at the nearest couple of runners to please just move a bit so I could pass and not have to stop - and/or fall off the edge - their arrogance was evidenced by their response: "We have the right of way.  Make way for us".  Not only did I ultimately have to stop dead and maneuver down a couple of rocks, but of a lesser safety issue, it screwed up my time.  No one keeping a steady, fast pace whether walking or running should EVER just stop short unless it's an emergency.  This wasn't an emergency, per se.  Just a pain in the butt to accommodate the egos of about 16 pains in the buttts!


    **I keep forgetting to check w/the park authorities as to exactly where in the park rule book it states that all other trail users-  even a single runner - must defer, aka: Stop & Step Off - for running teams or even a few runners whose bodies and egos apparently can span the width of even the widest trail road**.  PUL-EEZE!!


    Sorry, now, for my rant, but the original post really hit a nerve.  I guess that's pretty obvious.



  • walkingguide Rookie 1 posts since
    May 31, 2009
    Currently Being Moderated
    4. Aug 27, 2010 6:22 AM (in response to GarethEdwards)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    I've attended the Marathon Race Director's Conference several years.  There are two kinds of marathon directors.  One is a serious runner who wants to groom Olympic champion athletes and laments that marathons have become just another "bucket list" item.  Not only doesn't he (all I've met are male) like walkers at his marathon, he also hates any runner who takes more than 4 hours to finish.

     

    Ignore those guys.

     

    The other group (larger) are  marathon directors who want a successful marathon.  They accept and even welcome all of the slow runners, the run/walkers, and many strive to make their event welcoming to the pure walker. Because I do most of my events in the Pacific NW, I'm happy to report that out here, walkers are welcome and cheered at the Portland Marathon, the Seattle Rock N Roll Marathon/Half, etc.

     

    I am working with the inaugural Vancouver USA Marathon and half marathon for 2011 to ensure it is also a walker-friendly event. If we walkers work WITH race directors, we can ensure that their event is both profitable (or self-sustaining at least) and walker-friendly.

     

    Race directors have found that those slowpokes and the "bucket-listers" (who are only ever doing one marathon) BUY LOTS OF STUFF at the Expo.  They are the ones buying the logo fleece, polo shirts, photo packages, etc.

    Meanwhile, the elite racers EXPECT TO HAVE THEIR WHOLE ENTRY PAID FOR BY THE EVENT - often including lodging, airfare, etc.  That's right, those "Kenyans" are COSTING the event money. That money has to come from sponsors (and sponsorship money is drying up faster than a puddle in the Sahara) or from the slowpokes and bucket-listers' entry fees.

     

    Their choice.  We slowpokes have 'em by the pursestrings.

     

    Meanwhile, I have encountered NOTHING but CHEERING from runners as I finish the course long after them.  I can never remember anything but well-wishes from running participants as I near the end of a course and they are backtracking to their cars, etc.  Probably the snobs are long gone.

  • JLawal Rookie 4 posts since
    Aug 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    6. Aug 30, 2010 7:51 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    AMEN!!!!! Thank you so much. I just completed a 15k this weekend and was the only walker--although the event welcomed both runner and walkers. I felt so alone. The race crew had deflated the finish line by the time I finished--which really didn't help my self esteem. I don't know if I'll ever be a runner, but does that mean that I can't challenge myself?? Does that mean that I can't get out there and go the distance?? Is a half-marathon any less than 13.1 miles b/c it's walked instead of run?? Thank you so much for your post.





    "Successful people are successful because they form the habits of doing things that failures don't like to do." --Albert Gray
  • GarethEdwards Amateur 12 posts since
    Aug 13, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    7. Aug 31, 2010 1:38 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Hi JLawal,

     

    I don't know what the walking scene is like in the States, but over here we have decent events (check out http://www.racewalkuk.com/Home.asp for a flavour) that are separate from the runs.  Running as well as walking (and I've done a triathlon, so cycling and swimming, too!) I think that I have a broader perspective than many, and I can understand the frustration of "run" organizers if they have to wait around for a walker to finish a long time after everybody else.

     

    Our local half-marathon had an advertised guillotine of 2 hours 45, which is a pace of just better than 4 miles per hour.  You can't hang about, but most people can walk that speed.  In fact, a husband and wife were credited with 2:46, and another pair (the last out of 699) finished in 3:11, so they didn't just pack up and go home!  But when a lot of people give their time to marshal the course, work the timing, man the water stations, it's only fair to give them a time slot so that they know that they can go home and make it up to the loved ones!

     

    Personally, I'd rather walk a walking race, where walking technique will be scrutinised, and running disqualified than just walk a running race, where I may as well run to get my best time!  Incidentally, over here we have two levels of walking (A & B!) where B category races are only judged on keeping at least one foot on the ground all the time, and A category also use the "straight knee" test that is mandatory in competition race-walking.

  • JLawal Rookie 6 posts since
    Aug 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    8. Aug 31, 2010 8:08 AM (in response to GarethEdwards)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Gareth,

     

    The end time for the event was 11:30 and they were to do a sweep at 12p. I finished a little after 10am. They should have left the finish line up until their advertised end-time. I've volunteered to work events so I understand, but if I've volunteered for a particular time then I am committed to that time. As a participant, I trained hard and that was a tough course for a novice. I was proud of myself and ecstatic about finishing. Needless to say I was a little deflated at the end. When I registered for the event I made sure it was "walker" friendly. They should not have advertised it as such if that was really not the case.

  • TartiePants Amateur 17 posts since
    Aug 31, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    9. Sep 12, 2010 10:59 AM (in response to JLawal)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    That's awful J!! You finished you did awesome and sometimes I wish runners would just shut it. I am right now training for the Disney Marathon in Jan. I am scared to death of training and having the slow bus pick me up off the course for not going fast enough. The slowest time allowed is 16min at the moment I can walk 15min no worries. My goal is to get to a 13 min so I actually have time to go to the bathroom and take pictures of me with characters (they give you a disposible camera as part of your packet). I am doing team in training and I am way faster than the other walkers so a friend I am training with said I should join the run / walk group yeah only as a walk I was less than 100 yards behind them at the finish of our training and that was their best pace and it was a typical pace for me. By trying to keep them in my sights I actually stayed at my normal treadmill pace. The other issue is that i am starting this at 274lbs and I want to get healthier, at the moment I have no joint pain, shin pain, ankle pain, hip or any other issue that running can bring. So I guess the point to my ramble and I swear there is one, is do I need to be a walk / runner or can as I pure walker already at 15 min can I get to 13 via training and just the fact that I will have less weight to move around as the weeks progress?

     

    Oh and one good thing about TnT is that because they welcome walkersand train walkers they make sure the events are friendly to us.





    Start: 274 8/28/10

    Goal: 225 1/9/11

    Final Goal: 165 by ???

    Training for:

    Women's 1/2 Marathon St. Pete FL 11/21/10

    Disney Marathon 1/9/11


    Help find a cure for blood cancers, support Team in Training!

    http://pages.teamintraining.org/ncfl/wdw11/eschmidt

  • JLawal Rookie 4 posts since
    Aug 29, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    10. Sep 12, 2010 8:40 PM (in response to TartiePants)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Wow! You are my hero! I'm stuck at 252lbs and can't seem to get a walking speed of less than 15 min/mile. I've committed myself to doing a 15k in Chicago that has a 2hr 15min time limit--basically about 14min/mile at minimum--so I have some serious work to do. After my 1/2 Marathon on Sept 25th my focus will be running for longer stretches of tme to make up for my not so great walk speed.

     

    How did you improve your walk pace? I do the whole heel-toe and "spring" off the back foot (feels like I'm rolling ).





    "Successful people are successful because they form the habits of doing things that failures don't like to do." --Albert Gray
  • TartiePants Amateur 17 posts since
    Aug 31, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    11. Sep 13, 2010 5:59 AM (in response to JLawal)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Hi J,

     

    Thanks. I  talked to my walking coach and she said my goal time is hard but doable.I wish I could tell you something other than I am just a naturally fast walker..lol.  I need to do more arm and core work to help she said, which is why I am off to the gym. I am eventually going to run / walk a marathon, just not this one.





    Start: 274 8/28/10

    Goal: 225 1/9/11

    Final Goal: 165 by ???

    Training for:

    Women's 1/2 Marathon St. Pete FL 11/21/10

    Disney Marathon 1/9/11


    Help find a cure for blood cancers, support Team in Training!

    http://pages.teamintraining.org/ncfl/wdw11/eschmidt

  • GarethEdwards Amateur 12 posts since
    Aug 13, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    12. Sep 13, 2010 7:32 AM (in response to TartiePants)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Hi JLawal,

     

    How to increase your walking speed?

     

    Simple, increase either your stride length or the cadence at which you stride - or both.  If you can manage 1 yard per stride, and 120 strides per minute, that's 4.09 miles per hour.

     

    Easier said than done, though.  To increase your stride you need to be rotating your hips so that your front leg stretches out in front of you from as far forward as possible - that's the reason why race-walkers have that funny gait!  DON'T overstride, though - you'll end up slowing yourself down by effectively pushing backwards as your front foot lands if it's too far ahead of you.  Being taller helps, too, although you've probably left it a bit late to change that.

     

    Increasing the cadence, you just have to keep practising it, and keep mentally pushing it.  Practice by "sprinting" for 100 yards or so as fast as you can to convince your body and yourself that you can go that fast.  The other part, maintaining it for a distance, is all about keeping on telling your legs not to slow down.  I'm trying to find a song (or several) that will be at the correct speed, so that I can sing it in my head and keep time with that.  That's why, in "Officer and a Gentleman", the recruits are jogging along being sung at by the drill sergeant.

     

    A typical cadence is 100 strides (where left foot is 1 & right foot is 2) per minute - that equates to Andante in music, which means "walking pace".  The Light Infantry (GB) marches at 120 strides p.m. I typically walk (at a decent pace) at between 150-160.  The 1996 Olympic gold-medallist was hitting 186, and the Chinese race-walkers are (allegedly) at about 230 (albeit, probably with shorter legs and strides!)

  • DaveAWalker Rookie 1 posts since
    Sep 15, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    13. Sep 15, 2010 7:52 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    I have done a few races and nothing makes me feel better than when I walk past runners, especially when they are struggling up a hill.

    I no longer care what runners moan about, I rather concentrate on my own race.

    I have had runners running next to me in their attempt to do a sub 5h marathon, only to fall back. That means going along just on 7min/km which is pretty much my fastest pace.

    I have just got a  footpod for my FR305 and was interested to see over my first two walks, the first day was very up and down,  today was much more even at around 140 average, peaking just under 160.

     

    I am from South Africa

  • edoogk Amateur 9 posts since
    Jul 9, 2010
    Currently Being Moderated
    14. Sep 27, 2010 7:19 AM (in response to TizzyO'Grady)
    Re: In Defense of the Marathon Walker

    Tizzy - Thank you so much for this post. I found and read it on Friday just before my (Technically) 1st half marathon on Saturday. I say technically because I spent eight years on active duty and ran countless miles, hating every minute of it.Thus, I developed neither an appreciation nor affinity to running. Now that I'm out, I find walking to be a truly enjoyable way to decompress, reflect on the day and get fit at the same time. I was extremely apprehensive about the event, but reading your post made me a little less reticent. You are 100% spot on in that the race is yours and yours alone, how you choose to participate or complete it is up to you.

     

    As for the event, I am pleased to say I made it out on my own steam, and under the allotted 4.5 hours, 3:53. While no record breaker, it was a great event to participate in after an 11 year hiatus. Some people, unfortunately, did not complete it at all or in the alloted time frame. My next challenge? Whittle down that time and continue to compete against me.

     

    Thanks again to you and the other posters for the insight and encouragement.

1 2 3 ... 10 Previous Next

More Like This

  • Retrieving data ...