“Should I run? Should I walk? Is it okay to do both?” These are questions many people ask themselves. The idea of run-walk-run as a planned method of training and competing is one many athletes embrace. The run walk method is a concept with which many people find success. Here is everything you need to know in one place.
The Galloway Method
Perhaps the most well known proponent of the run-walk-run method of training is Jeff Galloway. When Galloway started his first running group, while watching the participants loop the track for the very first time he realized that walk breaks would be necessary.
Knowing that the number one reason people quit fitness regimes is frustration that results in lack of running motivation, he wanted to squash that frustration before it could happen.
He also noticed that if he set prescribed intervals for the collective group, some people would not be successful and others would be bored because they would not need a walk break yet.
In the first test run of the Galloway Method, the people were told to take a walk break when they felt themselves begin to “huff and puff.”
Benefits of Run-Walk-Run
✓ Less recovery needed
This statement can be taken a few ways. First, if you use regular run and walk intervals and stick to them, your body will need less time to bounce back between workouts.
Running can be hard on the body and mixing it up with interval running can alleviate some of that stress. Also, as you get acclimated to intervals, you may find that you can run longer and walk less frequently.
✓ Conserving resources
There are many reasons why a runner may wish to conserve resources. Some runners head out of the gate too quickly and end up slowing down significantly.
A run-walk method can conserve important resources, help the athlete be more consistent with pace, and have the runner feeling stronger.
✓ Keeps heart rate under control
For runners who tend to come out a little too aggressively, predetermined walk intervals can be used to keep the heart rate under control. Think of it as a forced time out to lower heart rate.
This can be especially useful in hot temperatures or when running on difficult terrains like hills or trails.
✓ Regulates early race pace and speed
This ties to the previous concept. Some runners take off fast and then as the race goes on find themselves losing momentum. Having a set race plan that includes run-walk method intervals can ensure that the athlete does not fizzle out at the end.
Regulating the early race pace can end in an overall more consistent time on the clock.
✓ Easier to consume fuel and fluids
Especially when traveling long distances, it can be difficult to drink or take in fuel while running. Set walk breaks can make it easier to eat and drink during training and on the racecourse.
Even if you normally do not walk at all, deciding to walk through water stops and when taking in fuel is a game-changer for many runners.
✓ Ease into running
If you are new to running, perhaps the best benefit to interval running is that it allows you to ease into it. Most people’s bodies thank them for the transition into racing through an interval protocol.
Think you aren’t getting anywhere by intervals? You couldn’t be more wrong. People have qualified for the Boston Marathon using these type of intervals.
How to Do Interval Running by Time
One way to set up your run-walk-run regiment is to interval by a prescribed time. People who are just starting on their fitness journey might do 30:30s.
What this means is the person runs for thirty seconds, walks for thirty seconds then repeats the process. 30:30 is a common starting point because the thought is that anyone can run for thirty seconds.
People with a higher level of fitness might change it up a bit. For example, a person might try 2:00 run by :45 seconds of walking. The important thing to remember is that there are no firm rules. The only rule to remember is to stick to the plan.
If you set out to run a marathon and end up walking half of it, you may end up finishing the race feeling like a failure. If you set out to interval a marathon by going 2:00 minutes running then 1:00 minute of walking, alternating that plan for the entire 26.2, it’s a race plan from step one. Sticking to the plan and completing it as expected feels like a plan and not a failure.
How to Do Interval Running by Distance
Some people prefer to interval by distance. There are distance measuring devices that help in this process. You can set a Garmin Forerunner to beep at prescribed intervals, for example. The Garmin may tell you to run for 800 meters, then to walk for 400 meters. This is a common interval program set by runners.
It is noteworthy that some running smart watches can also be set to use both distance and time for intervals. For example, run one mile then walk two minutes, repeat until done with distance.
There are some common pitfalls to the run-walk method. One is that people try to transition too quickly to running only, or to make the run intervals longer too quickly. It is a good idea to pick a plan and stick with it.
If a runner is adamant about becoming run only, or wants to run more than walk, those are great goals. However, a person should be able to comfortably complete a certain interval three times or more successfully prior to making the interval more challenging.
Another common problem is that athletes tend to take the run out too fast. If you exert yourself too much on the run portion, the same amount of time in a walk may not be enough recovery.
Others find the transition from run to walk is difficult on their body in different ways. A gradual transition from running to walking can help ease discomfort.
Some smart watches have built-in interval technology. The Garmin, for example, allows you to set your own workouts by either distance or time.
Smartphones can also have Apps downloaded to help with intervals. One example of an app for this is Gym Boss. For those who don’t have a smartphone, Gym Boss also makes a handheld interval timer (or one you can put on your waist or belt). These pieces of technology beep or vibrate to tell the runner to switch from running to walking to running.
Whether you are new to fitness, a runner working your way back from injury, or a lifelong walker who would like to add running to your regime, run-walk-run intervals might be just the addition your workout needs.
Get yourself a tracker of some type, make a running plan, lace up your shoes and hit the pavement. Your body will thank you as you run and walk your way to greater fitness.