Me, run-walking a leg of a 65-mile relay in 2019

As I’m sure you’ve picked up on by now, I’m a bit of a runner. No—I am a runner. I don’t know why identifying as a runner is so hard for some of us. Some of the people I know who struggle with it have all sorts of reasons they don’t consider themselves runners. Like, they don’t think they’re fast enough. Or they don’t run every day. Or they don’t have the body of a runner (whatever that is). Or they don’t run long distances. Or they take walk breaks.

I’d love to dig into why all of those “arguments” are no good, but I want to focus on that last one: taking walk breaks.

When I started running (at age 26, having hated running my whole life), the only way I could make it even a half a mile was by taking walk breaks. I consulted Olympian Jeff Galloway’s method of taking regular walk breaks and determined a good ratio for myself was four minutes of running followed by one minute of walking, repeated until I ran as far or for as long as I wanted to. I programmed my Garmin to chime or vibrate to let me know when it was time to walk and run, and I hit the road.

11 years later, I’m still taking walk breaks every four minutes.

I have run 5Ks, 8Ks, 10-milers, relays, and half-marathons using this method. My husband, Richie, did a marathon using this method.

When I’m running (and walking) a race, it always annoys the heck out of me when I take a walk break and fellow runners and spectators tell me to dig deep, and yell things like, “You can do it! You got this!” I know I can do it. I am doing it. I do got this. I know they’re trying to be supportive, but there’s definitely an assumption that I ran out of steam or lost motivation. Walking during a race (or even just a casual run) gets a bad rap, but I know it’s what works for me. My pace is consistent AF, and I often end up passing people who start too fast and slow down over time but refuse to take a break to recharge.

I’ve had several friends resist walk breaks for all kinds of reasons (but, from what they’ve told me, their reasons were mostly related to ego) and eventually gave them a try to great success! Even if they don’t get faster overall, their runs are more comfortable, more enjoyable, and easier to recover from. And that’s what keeps you going.

The purpose of this post isn’t to spread the Galloway gospel (though, if you’re interested, check it out!). The purpose of this post is to encourage you to get out of your head, set your ego aside, and do what feels good for you.

If you run, you’re a runner. Even if you take walk breaks or consider yourself slow (which is so subjective). Who cares what anybody else thinks?

What is something you do and maybe don’t enjoy because you feel like there’s only one right way to do it? Where in your life are you caring too much about what other people think?

While I’m on the subject of running, I want to share that Richie and I are running (and walking!) the Catamount Climb Half Marathon at Western Carolina University on April 9 (in less than two weeks!). This will be Richie’s first race since losing a considerable amount of eyesight, so I’ll be his running guide. To commemorate the occasion, he’s raising money for One Rare, a nonprofit focused on improving the lives and futures of young adults living with rare conditions through education, recreation, and peer support. Please support the cause if you’re able!

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