How Run-Walks Can Improve Your Run Part 2

So you have started a Return to Run Program. You’re coming off an injury and you’ve been told (or decided) that you are going to start adding run-walks into your training. What's the deal?!

Walking & running - let’s face it, no one wants to be subjected to this.

You may have a race in the future or plans to begin a training program so now you have to figure out how your conditioning is going to take a hit while you get back to doing the thing you love. 

Let’s break down the key reason why the Run-Walk is so important. 

Load V. Capacity

Injuries in our body typically happen for one main reason. If we do not include traumatic accidents like slips, trips, falls and being hit by someone else we can find the root of most injuries being due to this equation of load v. capacity. 

Every tissue in our body from bones and tendons have a certain amount of load that they can withstand i.e. their capacity. 

When forces incrementally build on our body (the load) beyond what these tissues can tolerate, break-down or injury is inevitable. As seen with runners, this is often the case when loads excessively exceed the body’s capacity to keep up with these demands. See this depiction below. 

How injuries typically happen in runners.

Typically small incidences of pain, feeling extra tightness or soreness are the signs that this load vs capacity relationship is starting to tip. Ideally we would want the load of running and training to just barely exceed the tissues capacity. 

This is what ensures longevity, sustainability and adaptation. 

In the scenario of an injury the tissue’s capacities are significantly reduced and the ability to place higher loads on the body are also going to diminish. 

And since running can create loads of 2-3x your body weight it is very important to stress the body gradually following an injury so all tissue structures have the best opportunity to get back to their full capacity. 

In comes the run-walks. 

Walking helps reduce this load on our body therefore allowing our tissues to incrementally build their capacity back up. 

Now hopefully, you get guidance from a performance based physical therapist who will help you through the run-walk program and make sure you pass the phases that actually level up your performance so you are less likely to succumb to an injury in the future. 

Here’s a brief breakdown of the phases of a complete return to run program.

4 Phases of a Return to Run Program
It is worth mentioning that most runners will think they can move from pain control & rehab to return to performance. The common mistake here is that absence of pain does not equal strong and healthy tissue with an increased capacity


What often is missing is the return to participation and sport phases. 

This is where we get to improve your body’s ability to withstand the load of repetitive single leg movement. Think jumping, plyometrics, high level postural stability drills and strength training.

Now it should be obvious that walking can only get you so far. But it serves as a simple and effective way to rebuild the foundation of your body’s capacity to withstand repetitive stress and more load. 

If you have landed in a run-walk progression, know that this is your chance to level up your capability. Trust this process to build your body’s resilience so you can continue to enjoy every run for longer!