Bullshit in the NY Times about marathon running

It would seem that the idea that walking on purpose in a marathon in order to record a faster finishing time would die a natural death, given how stupid the idea is on its face. But no, one of the largest daily newspapers in the world is happy to feed to myth.

Here are two key passages in the article:

To train for my first marathon, I’m using the “run-walk” method, popularized by the distance coach Jeff Galloway, a member of the 1972 Olympic team. When I mentioned this to a colleague who runs, she snickered — a common reaction among purists.

That’s right–those who argue against the idea of run-walking leading to better performance aren’t merely using math and reason to support their contentions; they can simply be written off as “purists.”

But then:

Walk breaks are a way for older, less fit and overweight people to take part in a sport that would otherwise be off limits.

Okay, so you’ve now admitted that walk breaks are the purview of the “less fit,” fat people, and the generally infirm. Are you going to suggest that these people get fitter, or are you going to stick by your bullshit and pretend that this is some sort of optimal strategy that substitutes for proper training?

What a crock of shit. Walk all you want, but don’t pretend you’re doing yourself or your finishing time any favors.

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  1. #1 by Lofcaudio on June 2, 2009 - 4:21 pm

    While I too am somewhat critical of the run-walk approach, I do know of some decent runners who are adamant in their observance of walk breaks when “running” a marathon. When I ran the Boston Marathon last year, I was moving along at a fairly nice clip (for me) when I came upon two guys who were walking up a very gradual incline 4½ miles into the race. I later noticed one of them blow right by me only to then pass him again on the next little incline as he was walking. Better performance or not, I know it’s not for me since if I were to stop and walk in a marathon, I don’t know if I could get back to running.

  2. #2 by hopper3011 on June 3, 2009 - 8:00 am

    Since when is being a “purist” an insult?

  3. #3 by kemibe on June 3, 2009 - 8:52 am

    “Since when is being a “purist” an insult?”

    At about the same time being declared an “elitist” became a damnation.

    It sucks to strive for greatness here in the good old U.S. of A.

  4. #4 by kemibe on June 3, 2009 - 8:54 am

    “I know it’s not for me since if I were to stop and walk in a marathon, I don’t know if I could get back to running.”

    That sums it up for me. If I stopped on purpose in a marathon, I would never be able to get going again.

  5. #5 by hopper3011 on June 3, 2009 - 10:15 am

    Actually, as a training method the walk-run is very good, I use it when I get injured, or when I’m stretching my long runs out, and it is surprising how much less stressful it is (to the extent that I have done two +26 runs in 4 days) but anyone who thinks they will run a faster marathon like that, rather than if they ran it full-out, is simply deluding themselves.
    I also find it a bit disingenuous that Ms. Parker-Pope keeps insisting in the blog comments that walk-running is as effective a training method as the traditional way simply because it takes 5-6 months to complete the schedule. There is no question in my mind that someone who runs 10-12 a day will be fitter after six months than a walk-runner.

    • #6 by Grep Agni on June 3, 2009 - 12:57 pm

      “There is no question in my mind that someone who runs 10-12 a day will be fitter after six months than a walk-runner.”

      I suspect if I tried that I’d be dead, possibly from suicide, and therefore less fit. I did a tiny bit of running in high school and found it the most unpleasant form of excersize there is. Since as far as I can tell there is no such thing as pleasant excersize, that’s saying a lot.

      Needless to say i am not in top physical condition.

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