Walking can be great cross training for running. For runners who are just starting out, running 4, 5, or 6 times a week is probably out of the question. Most running plans start off new runners, or runners who have taken a long time off, with 3 runs a week run on non-consecutive days. While this is a good approach to take, as it gives your body time to get strong, it can also take a while to get in shape.
Instead of taking the other 4 days of the week off, you can cross train by walking. This will help loosen up stiff legs from running and will also aid the running in strengthening your legs. If a runner is trying to lose weight, this gives them the ability to burn extra calories without over-training by running too much, too fast, too soon, which often leads to injuries. Walking is also accessible to everyone. For little to no cost at all a runner can walk on a treadmill in a gym, down the street, or on a trail. As the new runner progresses, they can switch some of their walking sessions for running until they are able to run all of their workouts.
You can work you walking session into you week by using them to break up your running. For instance if you were going to run on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, you could walk on Tuesday and Thursday. This will give you the weekend off and have you ready to start your Monday session off strong after rest. If just walking seems too easy, you may consider finding a hill to walk up and down.
Hiking in the Ouachita Mountains has shown me that even walking a steep hill can be a great workout and can leave your legs burning. If you have a dog, this is a great time to take him around the block. Who
knows, get him in shape and you may even have a running buddy. Walking 20-30 minutes, 2-3 times a week as cross training is a great way to get in some extra training and help develop your fitness.
By Adam Rabo