Updated: Apr 21, 2022
I went to a lot of races as a child. My Dad was a marathon runner. In the 1970s and early 1980s, RUNNERS did marathons. The mentality (at least given by my Dad's group of running pals) was that if you entered a marathon, you needed to be able to run the entire thing.
There was never any talk of a run-walk methodology, despite Jeff Galloway's now wildly popular "Galloway Method" that he developed in the mid-70s.
The methodology is simple – Galloway used what he called the huff and puff method – when you hear huffing and puffing, take more frequent walk breaks and slow the pace. Doing so helps delay muscle fatigue, minimize the risk of injury from overuse, reduce core temperature, and recover quicker (during and post-run).
How does this apply to you? The run-walk methodology might help you if:
You want to increase your run distance safely and minimize the risk of injury
You plan to move up to a longer race distance (run or triathlon)
You want to get faster
I also contend that using a run-walk method helps develop mental toughness.
If you're looking to increase your run distance, you can easily do this by incorporating a run-walk method during a few runs per week. For example, let's say that you run three miles/four days a week. You could add one half to one mile to a few of those runs and incorporate the "huff-and-puff interval." When you feel like you're starting to breathe too hard, you simply walk until your breathing calms, then begin to run again.
If your next race is longer in distance--especially if it's a triathlon--you're increasing mileage in three sports, not just one. A run-walk method is beneficial for stand-alone runs and for BRICKs (bike-runs).
Triathletes know that running off the bike is a different animal than running on fresh legs. One way to keep your legs fresh is to incorporate a walk interval to give muscles time to recover DURING the run. Additionally, as the distances get longer, there is an increasing possibility that you will walk during the run.
If you think it's possible you may walk, you have to train your mind to allow you to do that (it's an overlooked aspect of mental training). You have to train your body and mind to run and walk when you want to.
What if you want to get faster? What if I told you that there is a possibility that you could finish a race faster with a run-walk strategy than with just running alone? It does happen! Why? Because our legs (and lungs) are fresher for a longer period of time, allowing us to keep our pace more consistent when we're running.
Three ways to incorporate walking into running are time, distance, and breathing (Galloway's huff and puff).
Time: Run X minutes, Walk Y minutes. For example:
4 minute run/1 minute walk.
3 minute run/2 minute walk.
8 minute run/2 minute walk.
Distance: Run X, Walk Y:
Run 1 mile, walk 1 minute.
Run four telephone poles, walk to the next telephone pole.
Run until you're breathing hard (literally, huffing and puffing), walk until your breathing normalizes.
Now is a great time to give the "Galloway Method" a try! Happy training and run-walking!