Walking, a great form of cross-training, and yet a better chance to just get some exercise and enjoy the fresh air. Walking is an activity for all ages, all fitness levels, it can be done anywhere and at anytime. Walking provides an aerobic (using oxygen) benefit and provides therapeutic benefits far beyond stress relief only.
As a recovery technique for runners, walking can stimulate blood-flow flushing out toxins from the muscles. A simple 2-3 mile walk is a great way to recover the afternoon after an intense or long run. Kenyans, known for their success in distance running, think nothing of going for a 2+ hour walk just to recovery from their morning running session. If we think about it, walking is the fundamental basis of fitness and aerobic activity for anyone that puts one foot in front of the other, regardless of sport or past-time.
All athletes can enhance their fitness levels with daily walks, becoming fitter and therefore gaining more benefit from their sport of choice. Runners can reap enhanced durability and increased bone density from daily walks while not experiencing the impact associated from increased running miles.
Walking also requires very little equipment. A good pair of running shoes is best for daily walking which will include a shoe with good heel cushioning, a flexible forefoot, and the scale of support based on your foot mechanics. In addition, comfortable clothing that are not restricting and are appropriate for weather will make your walks much more enjoyable.
Walking is also one of the most effective ways to reduce stress and anxiety, especially for runners. While running we overlook our environment, our mind is elsewhere, and we lose focus on our surroundings. When walking we make discoveries. We see as walkers what runners fail to discover. Each step uncovers yet a new sight to be seen. What we hurry by while running, we view now what has not been viewed before.
Walking can be used as a primary aerobic workout with great success. One way to accomplish this is to add some increased pace intervals within your daily walks. A great workout is a 5-10 minute warm-up of easy and slow walking, then 30 minutes of 1:00 faster walking followed by 1:00 slower paced walking, and ending the workout with 5-10 minutes of increasingly slower paced walking to cool-down and slow your heart-rate. I do NOT suggest using hand weights while walking only because for the majority of individuals is affects their mechanics and I see poor posture resulting which could overtime lead to injury and bad mechanics. I do suggest to walkers to vary the terrain in which they walk on. Incorporating hills into your workout will increase the intensity of your walks and result in increased heart rates and higher aerobic output.
Runners will soon realize that to become better athletes they must overcome their bias towards walking and enjoy the benefits it provides for both their mind and their performance.