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Neil Featherby: When does running become walking? The truth is it doesn’t really matter...

Great Britain's Tom Bosworth wins the Men's 1 Mile Race walk in a world record time during the 2017 Muller London Anniversary Games at London Stadium.

Great Britain's Tom Bosworth wins the Men's 1 Mile Race walk in a world record time during the 2017 Muller London Anniversary Games at London Stadium.

PA Wire/PA Images

So when does walking become running and vice versa?

Simon Wright takes on the Sportlink Charity Treadmill Challenge. Picture: Neil FeatherbySimon Wright takes on the Sportlink Charity Treadmill Challenge. Picture: Neil Featherby

The subject of putting one leg in front of the other in a forward motion in the best way possible to complete a long distance race is a topic of conversation which I regularly seem to get myself embroiled in.

Of course, I do understand why people want to say that they ran all the way, but there are numerous times when I have looked at a person’s time splits where it is quite obvious that the last few miles of the run really have been a very painful experience of nothing more than just a very slow shuffle.

This regularly brings me on to the subject of suggesting that they would have been better to mix brisk walking with running to complete the distance in a more economical and less painful way and probably even more quickly.

I am not talking about the elite and experienced runners here, but for many novices or indeed those who have decided to give long distance running a go after a number of years of inactivity. I think it is fair to say that mixing it up can prove to be a far more efficient way whilst reducing the risk of injury or colliding with that horrible brick wall which even the very best marathon runners will have experienced at times.

Dom Blake takes on the Sportlink Charity Treadmill Challenge. Picture: Neil FeatherbyDom Blake takes on the Sportlink Charity Treadmill Challenge. Picture: Neil Featherby

There will be some people who will say if you can’t run all the way then you shouldn’t have entered, but in mass races such as the big city marathons, we all know that a high proportion of the field will be fun runners out on the road for several hours whilst of course raising money for lots of good causes at the same time.

Next week on February 16 we have race walker Tom Bosworth coming to do an instore promotion at Sportlink.

For those who may not already know, Tom holds two world records and several British records for distances from 1 mile up to 20k. He really is a phenomenal athlete for which his race walking times would be dream times for many a runner, hence why I ask the question when does running become walking and vice versa?

Leading up to Christmas, we organised a charity treadmill challenge at Sportlink whereby we challenged people to see how quickly they could run one mile whilst watching footage on our screen of Tom race walking his way into the record books as he smashed the existing race walking one mile world best which had stood for 26 years whilst finishing in a blistering time of 5 mins, 31.08 secs.

Watching some excellent club runners, with many being some of the best in Norfolk, giving what appeared to be their all and then looking up and seeing Tom circling the track at a quicker speed was so very surreal with only five runners who took up the challenge actually finishing in a quicker time.

However, and to make what was a fun event even more special, after finding out from Norfolk race walker Cath Duhig about our inhouse challenge, Tom not only endorsed it himself on social media, but also encouraged people to have a go which of course also further helped fund our charity efforts.

Therefore and going back to my comments about running vs walking, as far as I am concerned there is very little or no difference between a very slow jog, shuffle or brisk walk and if the English dictionary only had one word for moving forward on foot as opposed to those words run and walk, I also feel that some of those people who feel under pressure to say they ran all the way, would actually benefit from training and of course competing with the run-walk method.

The very top ultra-runners have used mixing for years which includes a number of world best performances.

We really are looking forward to Tom’s visit next week and everyone is welcome to come along and meet him for which I am sure he will enlighten us even more towards the science of race walking whilst also inspiring the most purist of runners.

Needless to say we will also be organising a couple of fun challenges during his visit too.

What I would like to know though is if he can race walk a mile in just over five and a half minutes, I wonder just how quickly he could run the same distance in? Now there’s a thought…Tom Bosworth race walker vs Tom Bosworth runner, treadmill challenge...

In true athletics terms there is of course a difference between what is regarded as race walking as opposed to running and that is that there has to be contact with one foot on the ground at all times which of course does add even more difficulty and discipline to being a top class race walker.

See below Tom’s Race Walking PB’s…absolutely awesome….

One-mile track: 5:31.08 (world record)

3,000 metres track (Indoors): 10:38.28 (world indoor record)

5,000 metres track: 18:28.70 (British Record)

10km road: 39:36.00 (British record)

20km Road: 1:20:13.00 (British record) – 6th place, 2016 Olympic Games, Rio de Janeiro.

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