There are benefits in taking walking breaks while running. Periodic walking breaks can help to make you a better runner and improve your time as well as your endurance. Walking breaks give your legs a chance to actively rest, which can then allow you to run further with better form.
During longer or more intense workouts and/or races, walking breaks allow your heart rate to lower so that you can recover from a hard effort. These breaks can also help to keep you on pace. For instance, if you feel that you are struggling during your run because you started too fast, taking a 30-60 second break can allow you to get back on pace.
Walking breaks are also during beneficial during runs with large challenging hills. Walking up portions of the hills can help you manage your energy while you are continuing to move forward.
Also remember that walking breaks are important for giving yourself the time to ingest some fluids or energy gels. Running and drinking fluids is often challenging for runners, so taking 30-60 seconds to walk and ingest fluids can make that process easier.
Also remember that walking breaks are not failures! They are a great way to extend your endurance, time, and distance.
Julie Khan is a physical therapist in the HSS rehabilitation department. She graduated from Columbia University with a masters and doctorate in physical therapy. Her clinical interests include post-surgical sports-related injuries and running mechanics. An avid runner herself, Julie enjoys rehabilitating runners and helping them get back to their sport safely and even stronger than before. She is a USATF Level 1 Coach as well as a Road Runners Club of America certified coach. She has completed more than 20 half-marathons and seven marathons.