Posted by: Joe English | January 25, 2008

Training: does walking count toward my runs?

I received a great question today from one of my new runners who happens to have a job in which she walks a lot. Here is the question in part:

“I am a letter carrier and I stand for up to 3 hours and walk up to 6 hours per day. Does this off-set any of the training days (on my running schedule)? I manage a mildly compressed disc in my back pretty well and I want to continue to balance my sports and my work. Any ideas?”

My answer is that the walking and standing may contribute to her physcial strength, but doesn’t do much for her run training. In other words the answer to her question is sort of yes and no.

The yes is that the walking and standing help contribute to the strength in her core muscles and legs. That means she’ll be stronger than someone that doesn’t walk around all the time. Her core strength also likely benefits from carrying her bag around with her – but hopefully doesn’t knock her spine out of alignment.

The no is that while walking, she isn’t getting either the aeorbic workout of running, nor the muscle specificity of running (meaning not building the exact same muscles or muscle pathways that you use while you run). So like many other pass-times, while the walking contributes to her overall strength, it is unlikely to help train her toward her marathon running goals.

What I might suggest if you’re in this type of situation is to look carefully at when you run during the day. It may be better to run in the morning before a long day of walking, when your legs and core are fresh and lively. You may also want to look carefully at your shoe selection, making sure to get a shoe with plenty of cushioning to minimize the amount of additional pounding you’re putting on your already tired feet and back.

Do you have a question? Please feel free to post your training questions and we’ll get them answered.

Coach Joe English, Portland Oregon, USA
Running Advice and News



  1. Joe,
    You’re right on! The optimal solution is dragging yourself out of bed early as possible before – work and standing on your feet all day – and getting your workout in.
    Walking unfortunately is not going to make you a better runner.
    Coach Dean

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