When can walking be considered cross-training?

It seems like occasionally I see the words “walk or other cross training” on beginner triathlon training schedules. But does walking — even fast walking — really count as “training”?

The consensus on a Runner’s World forum I checked was no — not unless you’re hiking up a mountain or striding up hills or cranking up the incline on a treadmill. Otherwise you don’t get your heart rate up enough.

I’m hoping to see my dad and my sister face off in a speed-walking contest this weekend.

On the other hand, in this article on coolrunning.com, Josh Clark writes that even elite runners “can get a strong aerobic session from walking.” He notes that the exaggerated motion in race walking works muscles that running does not — including your quads, abdominals, butt and arms.

I’ve got mixed feelings on this. Sometimes my sister and I  will still squeeze in a walk when for whatever reason we can’t get in a run or ride. Traci is a notoriously fast walker. But even after a speed-walking session that gets me dripping with sweat — which could happen today, with a high of 106 degrees forecast for northeast Indiana — I always wind up feeling antsy, like I need to at least go ride my bike or something.

Still, I’ve always been curious just how fast Traci could walk if she were really pushed. I’m hoping to entice her to square off against my dad in a family speed-walking contest at Saturday’s Relay for Life, if we can get everybody there at the same time.

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