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Keeping Pace, Issue #014 -- Walking Power and Salty Sweet Runner's Treat
October 25, 2013

Walk Power!

For newer runners, taking regular walk breaks is a really smart way to gradually integrate and introduce your body to running. Walk breaks though, are definitely not exclusively beneficial for beginners.

A couple of weeks ago I had the honor of crewing and pacing for my brother during his successful attempt at the 'Heartland 100' miler in Cassoday, Kansas (Prairie Chicken capital of the world). Anyone remotely familiar with the dynamics and demands of ultra-running will know how important it is to become really good at walking as most runners sure end up doing a lot of it!

My part, when compared to what the competing athlete had to go through, was relatively easy. I joined him at the 57 mile mark, which happened to occur at 7:00 PM, and was tasked with accompanying him to the 83 mile mark which we hit at approximately 3:00 AM. At least 95% of this distance was covered via very brisk walking through the gently rolling dirt roads of the prairies. With his tired legs that had already logged 60 plus miles, I was really quite amazed at just how brisk he was walking between short bouts of running.

His ability to keep such a great walking pace on haggard legs was no accident. His ultra-running coach Paul DeWitt, who was also part of our crew, is a huge believer of having dedicated walking workouts in all of his athlete’s training programs.

“Some runners may need to take walk breaks during a Half Marathon, while others might not need to unless the distance is much greater but in either case, you want to walk before you have to! I've found that 1 - 2 minutes is ideal; this allows your heart rate and breathing to recover a bit, makes it easier to drink or eat a gel but isn't so long that you have a hard time resuming your previous running pace.”
Paul also walks the talk – during his course record breaking 100 mile performance (which is unbeaten to date), Paul scheduled 2 minute walk breaks at every 18 minute interval. So, he is living proof of how walk breaks can have a valuable place for runners of any level, particularly for longer distance races.

“While I was running in the lead pack, many of them looked back at me in shock as I took my scheduled walk break. They also looked shocked as I passed them much later on in the race“.

Other running training gurus like Jeff Galloway have promoted and included regular walk breaks in his marathon training programs for decades integrating walks into programs for time goals ranging from 5 to under 3 hours!

What a lot of runners may not realize, is that walking gives many of the muscles you recruit for running a brief break and brings your heart rate down while you are still moving forward and covering ground so you're really not sacrificing as much time as you think for the return benefit.

Like all aspects of racing and training, you should experiment with different run/walk mixes in your longer training runs leading up to a race. A great way to get a walk workout in without sacrificing other aspects of your training development is to brisk walk hill repeats or walk on the treadmill at a challenging incline( 4% or higher).

Be sure to warm up including some ballistic stretching to help prevent injury from the stresses of running on inclines. Good form with upright posture and minimal ground contact is also really important to avoid overextending your achilles tendons.

Salty Sweet Runner's Treat

OK - so with Halloween junk everywhere you turn, here's an alternate treat that will provide some kick ass glycogen loading. And the best part is, even if you are not crazy about the taste of sweet potatoes, they are wrapped in bacon so....who cares???

Another win from the folks at

Bacon Sweet Potato Bites

  • 4 sweet potatoes (makes 64 bite sized pieces)
  • 1/2 Tablespoon salt
  • 4 Tablespoons butter
  • 32 thin slices of bacon, each slice cut in half
  • Optional: A drizzle of maple syrup or a teaspoon of chili powder
  • Toothpicks


  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C (350 F).
  2. Peel your sweet potatoes and cut them in half lengthwise.
  3. Now cut each half lengthwise again. Now you have 4 quarters (from one potato).
  4. Cut each quarter in half and then in half again. Each potato makes 16 bite sized pieces.
  5. Melt butter and salt together in a large pot.
  6. Add in chili powder, a drizzle of maple syrup or any other spices you like. We did just salt and butter for one batch and salt, butter and chili powder for the next batch. Add the potatoes to the pot and toss to coat the potatoes well.
  7. Cut each slice of bacon in half.
  8. Wrap each butter coated sweet potato in a piece of bacon and secure with a toothpick.
  9. Lay your bites on a parchment lined baking sheet.
  10. Bake for 25 minutes and then turn the bites over.
  11. Return to the oven and bake for 25 minutes more.

- See more at:

MYRG Quote of the Month

"The pursuit of truth and beauty is a sphere of activity in which we are permitted to remain children all of our lives."

Albert Einstein


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