June 24, 2015
I am a runner, because I run.
But sometimes while I am out on a run I walk.
Sometimes I walk just to take on water, and sometimes I walk because I need a break.
Some people think though, if you have to walk whilst running then you are cheating and are not actually a runner at all.
I am not of that opinion…but I used to be, especially when thinking about myself.
If I had to walk in an event I would feel like everyone was watching me and thinking “look at that fat bird, she can’t even run” and I would beat myself up for not giving it my all. But I have realised over the years that walking is an important part of a race plan and thousands of people rely on run/walk strategies to complete races.
A few months ago I wrote a blog post called 10 Reasons why Fat runners walk which looked at the physical body stuff reasons, like aching muscles or needing to catch your breath, but also the psychological head stuff reasons like feeling self conscious or giving up on yourself.
Runners come in all shapes and sizes and at a range of ability levels, and last year I was struggling to find a way of expressing this. So when putting together the members only (The Clubhouse) part of the website I had this rainbow scale graphic designed to help remind us that we are all at different points on our journey and that at any point we can go up or down on that sliding scale due to injury or just life getting in the way of training, or by putting in a whole heap of effort and trying new things. I have learned the hard way that just because you have run a marathon once, it doesn’t automatically mean you stay put on this scale.
At the weekend I just about managed to get under 35 minutes for my parkrun again, and trust me that included some walking too. Where as this time last year I was close to 30 minutes and able to run the whole way.
You can’t let it get you down though.
Back in April when I run the London Marathon I found myself at the back end of the race surrounded by walkers. I didn’t mind this at all, because Joanne and I were deploying a run walk strategy to deal with some injuries we were both carrying, and we tried to keep upbeat and motivated, but looking around there were lots of deflated sad faces, like people felt let down by their efforts…yeeeshhh you guys have just covered 25 miles….you are freaking awesome walking or no walking I wanted to scream at them…but I didn’t.
And then a few weeks later while taking part in the Hackney Half I noticed the same thing, women walking heads down like they felt embarrassed by the fact they were no longer running. I get that if you have trained hard and you expected to be able to run it all that you might find it a little disappointing to have to walk…but for many of us though we know we are going to be using walking as a way of simply getting around the route, and even if we don’t things like hot weather, chaffing, or hills might slow us down anyway…we’re not machines for goodness sake…so I think we should stand up for our right to be able to walk if we so wish…which is why I have brought our these beauties.
So why not make a statement next time you are racing?
Maybe these vest (like our Too Fat to Run vests) will make people think twice about judging you because you are walking, or perhaps encourage someone else to take up running because they know they can at least walk to start with.
Having a race or training plan is so important when you head out for a run, otherwise how do you asses how you got on, or keep yourself motivated to go out time and time again?
Knowing your ability level and striving to improve it, but at a pace that suits you is what this game is all about. Do not be disheartened by others around you, or by spectators and do not think for one minute that because you take walking breaks that you are not a proper runner, or a valuable part of the running community…you do your thing and be proud of doing it your way.