Should You Walk A Marathon Before You Run A Marathon?


Hi folks,

Turtle on a wet trail,

Beautiful little turtle that I spotted during my 10-mile walk in the rain today.

I’ve been struggling with a tight soleus muscle in my right calf for a couple of months. Following lots of tricks to loosen it up, my calf has certainly benefited from all the stretching, work with Yoga Toes, rollers, heat, ice and so forth, but that one little strand of soleus insisted on tightening up when I tried to run, and even if I tried to walk more than a mile or so, especially on hills. About a week ago, I had a chat with that muscle and came to the conclusion it was just being difficult and that I needed to try a new strategy. I decided that it was time to move from coddling to a good solid workout – a risky venture, indeed! I took a chance (be careful before trying this type of active recovery/repair!), and started doing 20-80 repeats of single leg calf raises five to ten times per day. I would carry out these calf exercises until my soleus muscle ached and complained, then shake my leg to loosen it, and watch to see what happened. I expected it to tighten up even more, but to my surprise it became distinctly more relaxed within just a few days.

I combined these calf exercises with increasingly long walks as I need to improve my general conditioning in time for the New York City Marathon (only 10 weeks away). I am pleased to say that I am up to a 10-mile walk already, and have started running comfortably again with almost complete elimination of that pesky soleus pull, which had been preventing me from running more than a few yards.

It would appear that with muscles, as with people, you sometimes have to baby them and at other times dish out a dose of tough love.

By-the-way, if you’re thinking of running your first marathon, you might want to consider walking a marathon first, if only for the conditioning that you will need to avoid injuries in the race. Just a thought in relation to safe exercise for better health.

-k @FitOldDog



  1. Marsha Schauer says

    Good idea! Acupuncture works for me, sometimes

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Disclaimer: As a veterinarian, I do not provide medical advice for human animals. If you undertake or modify an exercise program, consult your medical advisors before doing so. Undertaking activities pursued by the author does not mean that he endorses your undertaking such activities, which is clearly your decision and responsibility. Be careful and sensible, please.