I'm still taking it slow as my knee recovers and I wait for my doctors appointment. Here's my revelation though. Last weekend, I was taking a walk with my wife, who walks much faster than I do. Being the geek that I am, I had my GPS with me and started timing how fast she walked. Without me slowing her down, she was moving at 14 minute miles--not bad for a stroll!
So, I looked up some information on powerwalking (aka fitness walking or race walking) and took a shot at walking 5 miles today. Here was the cool part--no ITB pain. Not only that, but be modifying my form, I was able to move pretty regularly at 12 to 13 minute miles and elevate my heart rate to 70%-75% of max (yes, I really am that much of a geek). This is important because maintaining a heart rate of 70%-80% will yield some aerobic benefits (i.e. keep me from getting out of shape) and even 13 minute miles are plenty fast enough to finish a 50 mile run under the cut off. In fact, to make the cut off I only need to do 15 minute miles.
Don't get me wrong. I like to run and would like to finish the race well under the cut off, but I would rather go slow than injure myself. I think it also highlights the important point that walking is an important part of completing an ultramarathon and warrants, perhaps, practice in itself. I think walking gets a bad wrap despite its usefulness in terms of recovery, pacing, injury prevention, and just getting across the finish line. For more information about walking check the links below:
Walk the Walk from Trailrunner Magazine
Walk Breaks? from Jeff Galloway, the guru of walking/running