Have you ever experimented with treadmill walking vs. running?
Last night, I was feeling that restless leg syndrome thing kick in after a long day of sitting behind a desk, and I got it into my head that my legs were craving a treadmill sesh. But my brain was craving some time to flip through the latest Fitness mag I just got in the mail. (#FirstWorldProblems, I know.)
Enter: the run/walk workout! I’ll burn off some energy during the running part and then read/relax during the walking part.
Problem: I don’t like to “waste time” while working out, so I wanted to make every minute count.
Enter: the treadmill incline.
And…yeahhh…let’s just say that once I got into it, I made two discoveries very quickly:
—It is not possible to read while power-walking on an enormous incline. (Or if it is, it’s a gift I do not have.) I don’t like reading on machines unless I can hold the thing I’m reading, and my arms were way too busy pumping to hold anything.
—Walking can be harder than running. Especially when you hit the speed where your body’s itching to break into a run and you have to hold it back. When I was in the middle of the walking strides, I couldn’t wait until I could run again, just for the break.
I recently read an article in Fitness about how walking offers the same cardiovascular benefits as running—and even the same fitness benefits, if you’re power walking hard enough to burn the same amount of calories (it’s that whole “which is heavier, a pound of feathers or a pound of bricks?” argument).
If you’re anything like me, you might think of walking as a “break"—but it definitely doesn’t have to be. I’ve done pure walking workouts on the treadmill that have left my legs aching the next day, way more than they would have been if I’d done a run.
Part of the reason for that? My legs are used to running, not fast walking. Walking relies on different muscles, in different ways, and is a movement my brain is less familiar with coordinating at high speeds. It’s the kind of workout that, because it’s different, increases “neuromuscular efficiency” (the nervous system’s ability to recruit and stabilize the right muscles quickly and effectively)—which, by the way, also burns more calories.
So if you’re interested in changing it up, either for increased neuromuscular efficiency or for the hell of it (but not, I’m afraid, for the chance to read magazines easily), here’s the workout I did:
Oh yeah—and I also recently tried backwards treadmill jogging.
Talk about a wake-up call for the nervous system. Kinda like brushing your teeth with your non-dominant hand. It feels so, so weird. But it’s definitely great balance training, and again, demands different muscle patterns than your body’s used to. Not something I see myself doing regularly though—there are just too many ways I can see it ending badly.
Runners: do you ever incorporate speed walking into your training?
Have you ever tried backwards running?
I’m kinda lucky that I have a treadmill at home for this…pretty sure I’d be too embarrassed to try it at the gym!
Hope you’re having a great day!
P.S. If you haven’t seen this yet, you should probably give it a watch. (Just beware if you have a sensitive stomach—there is a brief puking moment.)