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The Difference Between Running and Walking

Friday, September 25, 2015

By Paul Willgoss

I’ve been injured.

I only wish it was a normal running injury—a sprain, a pull or a twist. Unfortunately, it was a knock-down smash to my knee.

Yes, it hurt more than it looks, and it hurts more when I try and run. Which is a bit awkward when you’re trying to train for a marathon.

One of the good things about being a GUCH is we’re used to balancing things out, and so I’ve had to. I’ve not run for more than six weeks. What I have done is walked 110 miles across Scotland, along the Spey from Aviemore to Buckie. Would I have been faster before the knee? Probably. Did it matter? No.

And that’s the difference between running and walking. When I run I have a target time, and various sub-targets around how I should run (how I feel, how often I need to eat a gel and generally, am I in the zone?).

When I walk, my targets are a lot simpler—get to the bed and breakfast I’m staying in, have some dinner, read my book.

Now that seems to make it sound like walking is easier than running. But it’s not—it’s different. Very, very rarely do I run one day followed by another for 5 days. With a full backpack, averaging over 15 miles a day…

Both running and walking are good for you (after the appropriate checks with you doctor, and following a sensible plan to build things up). Doing either is quite simple, one foot in front of the other.

Which do I prefer? Both—running gives me the target driven thrill that my personality type needs, and walking lets me contemplate things, plan my essays for my distance learning, and relax my mind.

So what did I end up doing next? Both. Sunday 13th September I ran the Great North Run, a half marathon, and then the week after walked St Cuthbert’s Way—79 miles of delightful rolling countryside, with ruined abbeys, stunning views and a finish on the coast with a walk across the sand to Lindisfarne (Holy Island).

And also, awareness was raised. A youngster with CHD made me a flag to carry as I walked, and it works—people do ask what it is all about. And I have time to tell them. Now that’s carrying awareness into the wilds.


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