Run/Walk…does it work?

I’ve always been intrigued by the Jeff Galloway Run/Walk method.  I have had various times in my 8-year running career googled it to find out more.  I have followed Jeff Galloway training plans in the past for different races – but without utilizing the run/walk method.  I was curious though if applying the run/walk method might help me shave minutes off my half and full marathon times.  I think my ego always got in the way of me giving it a go.  Real runners run the whole thing right?  Or at least until they hit the wall and have to walk.  :)

Then came Boston last year.  My training had not been very focused leading up to the race.  I arrived in Boston underprepared only to learn that I would also be contending with near-90 degree temps on race day.  In fact the mercury so alarmed race officials that they were encouraging runners to defer their entries til next year.  Tempting, but like most runners I opted to run the race anyway, seeing as I was there and had already spent a ton of money getting to Boston and staying for the weekend.

I knew we were in for some fun when we were sweating to death just standing in the athlete’s village waiting for our wave to be called.  After a couple miles into the course I knew that there was no way I was going to cross that finish line without a serious modification to my race plan.  I made the decision to use run walk intervals.  I started with 10min run/1 min walk intervals, but quickly decided that was a little too ambitious and shifted to 5 min run/run 30-60second walk.  Despite experiencing symptoms of heat exhaustion and severe dehydration, I managed to stick pretty close to my intervals and cross the finish line in a little over 5 hours.  A far cry from the 3:47 that qualified me for the race, but I was still thrilled considering the conditions and the number of runners I saw dropping out along the way.

I honestly believe I owe my Boston Marathon finisher medal to the run/walk method.  Without it I would have likely been carried off the course in a gurnee on that sweltering day.

Recently I have begun using the Run/Walk method in training. I threw my back out bending over in early January, shortly before I was do run a destination 1/2 marathon in Phoenix.  After having to scratch my trip and about a month of rehab, I was eager to start running again, but knew I had lost a significant amount of cardio fitness, and wanted to be smart about easing back in.  I decided the Run/Walk method would be the best way to get started.  ChiRunning and ChiWalking lend themselves nicely to smoothly transitioning between the two techniques.  After a couple of successful weeks of run/walk workouts, I have decided to stick with the method to train for my next half mary in early May.  I am curious to see if the run/walk method can not only help me to ease back into training after a layoff, but also if it can help me to improve my overall race times.

My last half mary was in September with a time of 1:57, my PR in the distance came 2 years ago at a 1:44.  I would like to come in somewhere between the two for this race, maybe 1:50?  I will keep you posted on my progress.

I would love to hear about any experiences you’ve had with the run/walk technique.  If you are interested in learning more about the Galloway method or the ChiWalkRun technique.  Follow these links:

Happy Trails!

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