September 15, 2010

Is 4 mph Really Running?

The subject came up recently when my daughter was training for the Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon in San Diego, her very first marathon.  The rules say that you have to complete the marathon in 7 hours or be disqualified, so she calculated that she needed to run an average of 3.74 mph throughout the course.  A speed-walker can do that, right?!

Now, when I think of 3.74 mph, it makes me think that I can do a marathon too.  If I could only get beyond this 2-mile hump I’ve been on for 6 months, I think I could wheeze breeze my way through that 26.2 mile marathon, no problem!  Of course, a 3.74 average means no stopping for any reason whatsoever!  No easy feat when so many other obstacles conspire to trip you up.  Like blisters and heat stroke.  Fatigue.  Diarrhea.    I’m just saying.... 

Okay, I might have to wait awhile for that marathon.   So, to get an idea of where I’m really at, I finished 108 out of 116 on my last two-mile fun-run with the PPRR’s, so needless to say, I am not fast.  With 6 months of running under my belt, you’d think I could do better than that.  When I run at home on the treadmill, I’m even slower.  My comfortable pace is 4mph; that is the pace that I can still talk at, while running if I really have to.  Because that’s what I read somewhere; your running pace should not be so fast that you can’t still talk comfortably. 

But my real question is this: is four miles per hour (4mph) really considered running?  I know there must be speed-walkers that go faster than that, so I really, reallly wanted to know if I was running.  It’s important, right?  After all, I’ve been calling myself a runner, however slow I am.  So I did some investigative running (requiring no actual movement on my part, other than finger action over the keyboard), and found this definition of running on Wikipedia (the italics and bold are mine): 

Running is a means of terrestrial locomotion allowing a human or an animal to move rapidly on foot. It is defined in human sporting terms as a gait in which at some point all feet are off the ground at the same time. This is in contrast to walking, where one foot is always in contact with the ground, the legs are kept mostly straight and the center of gravity vault over the legs in an inverted pendulum fashion. The term running can refer to any of a variety of speeds ranging from jogging to sprinting.

So here you have it!  I really am running!  Because when I’m running, at some point, both my feet are off the ground.  And not just when I fall down, either!  WooHoo!


Anonymous said...

I know this post is two years old but I just wanted to say THANK YOU! I hear so much about how 4mph is not really running and I think its a bunch of bunk. Great post!

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Anonymous said...

Thank you for this, I can run at 4.5mph but I was dying so slowed it down to 4mph so that I could breathe lol.

I am concentrating on building up my stamina by widening the number of minutes I run at 4mph before I walk at 3.5mph. Not much difference in these figures you might think, but my heart rate calms down significantly at 3.5mph.

When I can run a full 20 mins at 4mph I'll then work on speeding up (SLOWLY SLOWLY CATCHY MONKEY, LOL)