The run/walk method: your secret weapon for increasing distance, remaining pain free, and running faster races.
Have you ever finished a race and felt like your body and legs have nothing left? Or, are you a runner who struggles to run more than one mile, or even one city block?
This training method allows you to leave the discomfort of micro traumas & overuse injuries in the past. Using the run/walk method will allow you to reach new distances and finish stronger because your legs will not be exhausted by the end of your race. You will actually be able to enjoy your accomplishments!
What is the run/walk method?
The run/walk method involves alternating intervals of running and walking, right from the start, and continuing for the entire run or race.
The most basic run/walk method is the 1 to 1 ratio: one minute, running followed by one minute of walking. The method can be modified, depending on your running ability or your distance and time goals.
Once your body has acclimated, you can progress to a 2:1, 3:1, or 4:1 run/walk ratio!
For new runners, it’s completely normal to find running for a full minute too physically demanding. Start slow! Try 30 seconds of running, and 90 seconds of walking.The goal is to keep moving and over time gradually increase distance or time spent run/walking, without slipping back into the old habit of ignoring your body and running “through” the pain.
Why take walking breaks?
Human beings evolved as hunters & trackers, while moving great distances over time. This involved long periods of alternating between running and walking to wear down prey.
The body was not designed to run excessively long distances. When taking regular walking breaks, the muscles can recover and the body can continue to move forward without reaching exhaustion.
Running nonstop can quickly push the body past its limit. Many runners, who do not take walk breaks, will experience a slow down toward the end of the race. Conversely, runners who walk and take breaks early on, find that they actually run faster times! Each walk break, especially the early ones, allow your legs to fully recover.
So what does this mean for me as a runner?
Alternating running and walking is one of the best ways to increase endurance. It is also a great way to stay injury free while increasing distance. Too, the walking breaks help to ease the mental challenges of running long distances. Instead of thinking, "I still have (x) more miles to go," your mindset will be, “Only 2 minutes until I get a break!” This mentality helps runners feel encouraged, and rested, all the while allowing recovery to run indefinitely.
Using this method, new runners (even in their 40s and 50s) can be able to work up to marathon distances. Veteran runners can shave time off of their personal records, and feel great at the end of the race, because their legs and bodies have had adequate time to recover during the race.
You will reach a new distance milestone. You can stay fresh for the entire race. So, enjoy this balanced method of running. Have fun on your run.
(Recommended Ratios below from Jeff Galloway “The Galloway Run-Walk-Run Method”)