To see a runner take a walk may seem like some sort of failure. Not only are they beating up themselves for not being able to hang in there, but you may be giving them side-eye from the street wondering why they couldn’t hang.
Everyone, stop it!
Taking walk breaks during a run is actually one of the most effective methods for runners. The notion of giving runners of any level — beginners or veterans — a break on their route was first introduced by Jeff Galloway, one of the foremost authorities on running in the U.S. Known as America’s Coach, Jeff has trained more than a million runners through his 1:1 training or through his books, retreats, schools, and other access points. He’s kind of a living legend for runners!
When he started training beginner runners in the 1970s, he noticed that his trainees were going to need to take breaks to walk. It wasn’t a bad thing! He discovered the “huff and puff” rule, where if you hear huffing and puffing, you should take more walk breaks and slow your pace. Together, this method has become known as Run Walk Run and it is highly embraced by the running and fitness communities.
For those following Galloway’s training style, aches, pains, and injuries are reduced to a near zero! As well, his runners are stronger and faster.
Still think taking a walk mid-run is for the weak? Not hardly!
There is some strategy to these built-in walk breaks, and when used effectively, not only will they improve your ability as a runner, but also give “you control over your attitude as you feel the positive results,” says the Jeff Galloway website. They even claim that the Run Walk Run method can help you gain 7 minutes in a 13.1-mile half marathon.
As well, the method is key for energy conservation, too. “Most if not all ultrarunners use a run-walk strategy for training and racing,” reported Coach Jenny Hadfield at Runner’s World. “Only they go by the terrain – they walk the hills and climbs and run the flats and downhills. This strategy helps them conserve energy to run stronger for longer.”
BENEFITS OF RUN WALK RUN
- Energy conservation
- Faster finish times
- Reduced injuries
- Reduced aches and pains
- Faster recovery
- Reduced core body temperature
- More likely to find the “runner’s high”
HOW TO RUN WALK RUN
Run Walk Run is considered interval training, in which you alternate between two activities for different speeds, exertion rates, and lengths of time. In this case, you speed up and go hard for the runs and give yourself a break with a slower pace for the walks. The results pay off! Active.com suggests the following for executing a run-walk program:
- Commit one week for each of the 13 stages.
- Pay attention to pain and allow days off to recover; move to a previous stage if needed.
- Start with a 3 minute walk/1 minute run in stage one, then a 2 minute walk/1 minute run, and two-two by stage 3.
- Concentrate on steady paces, keeping the arms moving.
- Increase distance as you progress through the stages.
- In stages 4-8 you’ll spend more time running than walking, progressing from a 4-minute run with a 1-minute walk to a 9-minute run with 1-minute walk.
- In stages 9-11 you’ll increase run intervals from 7 to 9 minutes, each with only a 45-second walk.
- Stages 12 and 13 are final preparations for a distance race. If you’re looking at, say, a 7:30 mile, intervals will look something like a 15-minute run with 1-minute walk.
APPS FOR RUN WALK RUN
If you’re ready to try this approach to running, there are a few apps that can help you manage the intervals so that you can concentrate on form and pace.
- Easy 5K with Jeff Galloway