Yes, walking breaks (at least in training runs) help me run a bit faster during the running phases.
No, I didn't have trouble with not having to walk while during the race. After all, I do my long runs without any taper beforehand (usually a short race the day before) but I have a couple of easy weeks leading to my goal marathon.
But then again, I only "run/walk" the first couple of hours of my first 2-3 long training runs; the last few I just run.
As far as "ego": to me, "ego" is about finishing as fast as I can (or with as good of a place as I can). I don't care how I do it (so long as I do it honestly :-) )
But, for me, "just finishing" a marathon is no big deal; if you go slowly enough at the start, a marathon can be a glorified "urban hike". For me, doing it well is the key.
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