Until a couple years ago, my answer would have (obviously) been to run. No second thoughts, no debate.
Although walking and running share a lot of the same traits and features (more walking benefits HERE), I have noticed a few differences that are often over-looked. It wasn't until I was forced to substitute walking for running (after that emergency surgery in 2017) that I finally got it. I not only recognized these differences, but also learned to respect them.
As a result, I have an overwhelming desire to share what I have learned about walking, and what I've come to love about this often-shunned activity. Care to hear about it?
First of all, there's the weather. Most of us know to dress like it's 10-15 degrees warmer before heading out for a run, right? Well, that rule is for runners, NOT walkers. Sure, walking will heat up your body, but not to the same degree (see that play on words?) that running will.
|walking often requires more layers|
Let's not forget about shoes. Did you know you probably have a different foot strike and stride length when you walk? I had read it, heard about it from experts, and even been advised against it from sales clerks in shoe stores....but never really grasped the concept until recently. I typically don't wear my running shoes unless I'm actually running (so you will not see me wearing them with jeans or casual shorts), so this never really was an issue.
|These shoes are made (optimally) for running...for now|
How about mileage? This is the one area where I got the most feedback during my surgery recovery. When runners train for long-distance events, they have to put in a lot of miles. Although walking and running use many of the same muscles, running is harder on your body due to the faster speed and increased impact from all of that pavement pounding. Walking, because it's quite a bit slower, is not as hard on your joints. Essentially, you can walk greater distances (and reap the cardio benefits) without as much stress or strain on your body because you're not demanding as much from it. After my surgery, I walked a lot of miles during my three months of recovery .... more than double the miles I would have run (had I not been in recovery mode and was able to assume my "normal" routine of running 3-4 days per week).
|A few extra walking miles are safer than a few too many running miles|
Walking takes much longer than running. Hands down, walking feels very slow in comparison to running. There is no effective way to sugar coat that fact. One advantage to the slower speed, though, is the fact that you can actually take in your scenery much better than if you were running through it. There are a lot of unique architectural details one can notice on buildings and houses that you may miss if your were running by them.
That said, I can't just head out for a "quick" 5-mile walk. I can run five miles (usually) in less than 45 minutes...but walking? I have to plan for at least a good 30 minutes longer (because there will likely be a potty stop in that span of time). Kind of a time-suck, huh!
|I did so much walking while I recovered from that surgery|
So, that's my take on walking, and how it differs from running. It certainly isn't my first choice of exercise, but it filled a huge void in my life when I wasn't able to run. It took awhile to get my mobility back, and my range of motion was slow to return as well. Early on, I was limited in what I could do with my healing knee. Walking was the one thing I was allowed to do. I could walk as slow as I needed to (when the 6-inch suture seam was at its most vulnerable), and walking was readily available anywhere and everywhere, anytime of the day. These days, I walk whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Talk to me....how do you feel about walking vs. running? Do you ever treat them as equals in terms of effort or legitimacy? Have you ever had to substitute walking for running as you waited out an injury's recovery?