I've been researching the benefits of taking walking breaks during a long run. Now that all the hard core, you aren't a runner if you walk, just stay out of my way during a race cuz I'm a real athlete runners have signed off (and probably deleted my blog permanently) let's look at the issue logically.
What I've learned is that if you are a fairly fast runner you probably won't benefit much from walking during a long run. This is because you will lose too much time during your walking breaks. If, however, you are a very slow runner like myself, there's a lot to gain from walking. The idea is that you'll maintain a better pace throughout the entire run instead of running out of gas early and being forced to go so slowly that you're pretty much at a walking pace by the end of the run anyway. The key is to start the walk breaks right from the beginning of the run instead of waiting until you're so tired that your body forces you to walk. I've also learned that the benefits from a stamina viewpoint will be just as good with walking breaks as without when it comes to a long run. Even my new running hero, Hal Higdon, suggests using walking breaks during the long run in his training plans.
I wasn't going to admit this here, but there were 3 people who started with me at my last race, who were incorporating regular walking breaks into their race strategy, and all 3 beat me to the finish line. I'm going to try this on my long runs. I'm going to start with 8 milers. According to Galloway, my ratio should be 5:1 (5 minutes running to 1 minute walking). I'm going to try a ratio of 1mile:1 minute, mostly because it's easier to track during my runs. The good thing is that I don't have any races on the horizon so I can really play with this plan and see how it works.
I read on a forum somewhere that at marathons, if you're taking walk breaks early in the race, you have to be prepared for derisive comments from some of the runners passing you. Can people really be that mean spirited and small? I would hope that most runners would recognize the efforts made by others to run a marathon regardless of the method they choose to complete the race.