Seattle Marathon Walk is a week away! Am I ready?

This isn’t going to be a very inspired post, but here goes.

There may be nothing more strenuous for me than training for a marathon run. But there’s probably nothing more weird than training for a marathon walk. Yes, weird. For an injured runner like me — one whose tender ankle can’t handle the pounding of running, but can walk relatively pain-free — it’s hard to know how much training to do for a walk I just hope to finish … before bedtime.

Since I decided more than a month ago to do the Seattle Marathon Walk on Nov. 28, I’ve tried to train as well as I could. (Just who’s idea was this, anyway, to walk a marathon? Er, well, it was all mine. Gives me something to blog about, I guess.)

My training has been a combination of treadmill and outdoor walking, as brisk as I possibly can, plus elliptical-machine training, exercises for my core, and a certain amount of running (about five miles total, actually). My target pace for my walks have been 15-minute miles, or four miles an hour. I am actually hoping to do the marathon walk in seven hours (although tweeting is going to slow me down).

I’ve tried to train for the event as I would the Seattle Marathon run, doing as much walking as I would running, but it’s hard to match the intensity of training for a marathon run. Also, it’s hard to walk as many miles as I would run, and to do as many long walks as I would long runs. Walking simply takes more time — so I haven’t been able to walk as many miles as I would run.

Here’s a quick look at what I have done in recent weeks:

  • A 10K training walk Oct. 24.
  • 5K race that I entirely walked (Pumpkin Push 5K) on Oct. 30.
  • A training walk of 14 miles Oct. 31.
  • My longest walk of 18.5 miles (ran a tiny bit of it, but not much) along Lake Washington Boulevard and in Seward Park Nov. 7.
  • A 10K training walk Nov. 20.
  • Several 5K walk/runs on the treadmill on weekdays during the past few weeks.

Today (Nov. 21), a week before the Seattle Marathon, I plan to walk 10-12 miles as final tune-up.

Here are the differences for me between running and walking as I train for marathons:

1.       Glasses:

  • Running: I never wear glasses when I run; I worry about losing or breaking them. Consequently, I can’t always see details of the faces of people I see. I can see their smiles; I can also see the backsides of people who run by or ride bicycles past me (I make sure they are women’s backsides before I start admiring them).  Also, since I can’t read or see keyboards without glasses, I don’t carry a cell phone.
  • Walking: I wear glasses and carry my cell phone. I see much better, though if I walk at a good pace or it’s wet outside, my glasses get foggy and wet and it’s harder to see, period. I actually prefer running and not wearing glasses, so I can challenge my eyes. Also when walking, I have been known to tweet a bit.

2.      Headphones:

  • Running: I am much pickier about needing to listen to rock music when I run. I need that beat, that energy, and those fantasies of playing drums on stage, to relax me and help me not think about being tired or in pain. I can listen to news, talk radio, and sports broadcasts if they are compelling.
  • Walking: I am much more open to listening to, say, the Seahawks pre-game show or an NFL game I have a mild interest in. Rock music sounds great, but it is less of a critical need. I can focus more on a game I am listening to, and can tolerate even national hosts for sports-talk radio shows.

3.       Food and Gatorade:

  • Running: For runs longer than seven miles, I pack my gummy bears and carry my water bottle with Gatorade in it. For runs longer than 12 miles, I drop another bottle somewhere along the course before the run. I take breaks after four-mile increments to fuel up. Gatorade tastes incredibly good after running, although more and more I like cold chocolate milk too. I fell in love with chocolate milk after the Eugene Marathon in 2009, when runners were handed it after they hit the finish line.
  • Walking: I still pack my gummy bears and eat them. I also have Gatorade available for after the walk. But I simply do not get as thirsty. And after shorter runs, water or even Diet Coke quenches my thirst.

4.      What I wear:

  • Running: In cold weather, I will wear long running pants, two high-tech running shirts, a running coat, hat, and gloves. For a marathon, I may go without the coat. I may even wear running shorts if it looks like it will stay dry. I have made the mistake in the past of overdressing, such as the rainy Vancouver Marathon of 2006, when I wore too many layers that got water-logged and had to carry my running coat until Mile 25, when I was able to drop it at a convenient place. The elite runners wear shorts and singlets, even in ice-cold weather, because your body heats up very quickly.
  • Walking: Staying warm is a much bigger issue. Your body does not heat up nearly as much. The trick is to wear enough clothing to stay warm, but also to avoid loading yourself down. You can even wear a backpack if you care to lug it around for 26 miles. I still wear running clothes and shoes (versus street clothes), so I can go as fast as I want and even run some if I feel like it. But I also generally have my glasses, cell phone, and headphones with me.

5.     Soreness and recovery:

  • Running: The night after a long training run or marathon, my body is sore and my legs are toast. That’s when I feel the worst. The next morning, I am stiff and sore, but better after I get moving. Then things get progressively. The euphoria of finishing a marathon is worth almost any amount of soreness. Early on, I couldn’t run much for about a week, but as time went on, I was back running and training again on the Wednesday after a Sunday marathon. Running a marathon is inspiring; no matter how awful you felt at Mile 21, you remember much better crossing the finish line and you are psyched to start training again.
  • Walking: After my longer training walks, my legs have indeed felt stiff and sore. I often feel the worst of it the next morning. And I know I will feel the effects of walking a marathon both during and after I am done. But I expect to be less sore and tired (and euphoric) than if I was running the Seattle Marathon.

If I think of anything more, I will add to this post.

Meanwhile, my physical therapists — Rebecca White and Shelly Hack  (shout out to both!) — are getting my ankle stronger and getting me ready to run races in 2011. I will start out with 5Ks, and hope to be able to run a marathon sometime in 2011 (my long-awaited Marathon No. 20). For the rest of 2010, I will be mostly walking, and may walk the 12Ks of Christmas race in Kirkland on Dec. 19.

Till next time.


About monteenbysk

I am not an elite runner or bicyclist, though I am friends with many. I run, walk, and bike for fun and the health benefits. I can get you to the finish but probably not to the Boston Marathon (and especially not to the Tour de France).
This entry was posted in 5K, Marathons, Running, Walking and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Seattle Marathon Walk is a week away! Am I ready?

  1. Good stuff, Monte. I’ve often thought about getting into a regular walking routine since I think that’s better for my bones than the constant pounding of running.

    I appreciate these tips and will put them to use. It’s snowing down here in Enumclaw so do I need to put chains on my walking shoes? :):)

  2. Jean says:

    Go Monte!

  3. singleshot1 says:

    Way to go, Monte, and best of luck in the race next week. I’m not a marathoner but as a beginning runner (did my first snow run ever yesterday), your words are both inspiring (and instructional!).

  4. I’ve never walked a full marathon. Found your comparisons very interesting.

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