A recent New York Times article discussed taking walking breaks in a race or long training run. I have not done this, but perhaps I'll give it a try some day.
Have you ever run past a fellow competitor during a race who was walking, only to have that person pass you at the end of the race at a full run? According to former Olympian and running coach Jeff Galloway, runners who take walk breaks during a race are often the ones who are picking up speed during the last part of a race when everyone else is slowing down. What gives?
I went to Galloway's Web site which informed me that runners who take walk breaks during training runs or races will record significantly faster times because they don't slow down at the end of a long run. By shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles, you distribute the workload among a variety of muscles. The running muscles are less likely to become fatigued, and your overall performance capacity improves. Experience has shown that even veteran runners have posted surprisingly faster times with this strategy. Plus there’s the mental benefit of breaking up the race or training run into segments: a 10-mile race seems more benign if you know that a one-minute walking break is coming after every two miles or so of running.
Galloway says that once we find the ideal ratio for a given distance, walk breaks allow us to feel strong to the end and recover fast, while bestowing the same stamina and conditioning we would have received if we had run continuously. The Web site gives information on how often and how long the walk breaks should be, depending on the distance and your own abilities.
I'd be interested if anyone has incorportated walk breaks into their racing or training, and what results have been achieved.