running vs walking: is one better?

running vs walkingMy 1st time exploring Point Reyes in California! This was a walking/hiking day, as evidenced by the jeans!

In the great debate of running vs walking, is there one clear cut winner for which is the better activity?

As a fitness professional, I receive questions daily regarding this topic.

Share your thoughts on walking vs running or anything running-related here.

Here are just a few of the usuals:

  • Does everyone have to be a runner?

  • What if running hurts my knees? (If this speaks to you, you may also want to read our related article on hip pain from running.)
  • Could runners benefit from more time spent walking?

  • What's the best way to become a runner?

  • I'm overweight and am supposed to start running, but it isn't comfortable. What can I do?
  • Is there a happy medium, or a great way to benefit from each, or to combine the two?

  • I've tried running and walking, but they're both boring. is there a way to make them more fun?

Running vs Walking: If You're Just Getting Started

Getting started on any new exercise program can be a daunting task.

It is okay to ask for help.


Actually, asking for help is a sign of strength and awareness.

Whether you are a beginning runner, starting for the very first time, or if you've had a bit of a hiatus, and are getting back into it, there are several things to keep in mind when choosing running vs walking.

You Don't Have to Set World (or Personal) Records Every Day!

One mistake that I see often is the tendency for new runners to feel the need to see marked improvement every single day.

Usually, this is seen in their feelings of disappointment when they check their watch, and they don't see a better time than the one they had for the run the day before.

It is easy to see how, if the focus here becomes too strong, that this type of discouragement can lead to a lack of enjoyment in pursuit of an activity that can be so rewarding.

Celebrate the Small (Daily) Wins

championship trophy

Whether it is weight training, swimming, running, yoga, meditation, rucking, or any other activity, learn to celebrate the small wins.

Those small wins can, and often do, happen daily.

When they're happening daily, that's consistency.

And, consistency of good habits, leads to progress.

What happens when you miss a day, or if you break from routine?

Don't beat yourself up about it.

Just as one great workout doesn't carry you across the finish line of achievement of all of your goals, neither will one bad (or missed) workout prevent that from becoming a reality in the future.

Remind yourself of your "why" and the importance of your goals. Then, recommit to the good habits that are helping you to get there, no matter running vs walking.

Walk and Run: A Solid Combination

family walking with dogThe family dog needs exercise, too!

There is no shame in walking.

Maybe it doesn't provide the pace that you have, or had, in mind. That can, and will, come later, as pace-specific training should eventually be part of your overall program design.

However, it is providing benefit. Do keep that in mind.

Your muscles, connective tissue, and cardiorespiratory system are all benefitting from what may seem like a basic activity.

That activity is helping to build a base from which you can progress.

And, the benefit you receive from walking far exceeds the lack of benefit you'd experience if you'd chosen to sit on the couch instead.

Running for a Specific Time or Distance?

track runningWe love old school stopwatches!

You've heard of steady-state training, where your goal might include running for a specific distance or time.

Imagine that time goal is 60 minutes, yet your current fitness level might not let you reach that goal comfortably.

And, let's say that you're able to tough it out, but your running form breaks down by the time you reach 30 minutes.

Is that second 30 minutes going to be beneficial for you? Or, is the lack of quality in your running form going to cause more harm than good?

Where that is the case, we've often designed programs that incorporate heart-rate intervals, where the periods in-between sets (of running) involve walking recovery, usually to a specific heart-rate.

In this sort of running program design, the time goal can be achieved, while improving the amount of time spent with good running form, rather than with dysfunctional movement patterns that often lead to injury.

Running vs Walking: Rucking Workouts

GORUCK ruck plateHere's the GORUCK 30lb. Ruck Plate that fits perfectly in each of our GORUCK rucksacks!

No matter how much I've enjoyed running, there are some days when I just don't want to do it.

You may have experienced similar days.

Some days it is because of aches and pains. Other days, the weather isn't cooperating.

Could we say that that is all inconsequential? Sure.

Would giving in to those excuses, especially on a consistent basis, work against our ability to achieve our goals? Yes.

That's why it can be important to remind ourselves that we can remain committed to our goals, while being flexible in the path that we each take to get to them.

That's why we are so thankful that we discovered the workouts, the joys, and the camaraderie of rucking, especially as part of the GORUCK community.

So, What Exactly is Rucking?

Rucking is, essentially, moving with weight.

A mainstay in military training, it can be of great use to civilian and athletic populations, too.

We especially enjoy, that when working out in groups, it can allow everyone to move together at similar, walking pace (though you can mix in some good running with them on, too!)

Where those new to rucking might normally begin with a suggested 20lbs. in their rucksack, those who are normally faster might choose to add weight.

What happens while rucking?

While moving with friends, you'll be able to enjoy great conversation and each other's company.

However, it provides so much more than just that, especially when done consistently. Rucking Pro Tip:

Keep whatever weight you're using
"high and tight (to your back)."
It'll be more comfortable, overall, and will
allow you to move more safely and effectively.

Here's some of what you'll enjoy while rucking:

  • Muscular benefit (strength and endurance)

  • Cardiovascular focus (while moving at walking paces, you'll find the ability to enter heart rate zones more usually found with running exercise)

  • Postural improvement (the stabilizing muscles throughout your core will be called upon to hold you tall throughout)

  • Strengthening of connective tissues (those ligaments and tendons also have to get used to the newly imposed demands of rucking)

  • Lessened impact on your joints (your ankles, knees, hips, and lower back may need a break from the intensity of impact from running. Rucking provides that for you!)

  • Fun (sure, you'll have fun being with friends, but the variety in your cardiovascular endurance training and your strength training involving the ruck will be things you'll look forward to)

Running vs Walking? Add Rucking Into Your Routine

In the debate of running vs walking, we choose both. We do so while also choosing rucking.

While you can get started today with any old backpack, you'd be doing yourself a disservice in not exploring the selection of rucksacks that GORUCK has to offer.

Recommended Reading: Our best rucksack article is a great place to get started on choosing yours.

Test one versus the other, and you'll probably notice that the GORUCK option carries weight far more comfortably, the weight remains more stabile (with compartments suited well for GORUCK Ruck Plates; or for your laptop), and being military-grade, they'll last forever. They're that durable (and backed by the Scars Lifetime Guarantee).

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"Hard work is not punishment. Hard work is the price of admission for the opportunity to reach sustained excellence."
~ Jay Bilas