Run/Walk Method Works for Me: Will it Work for You?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
As many of you may know I am a runner. I started running as a way to lose weight, get fit and most of all to prove to my 6th grade P.E. teacher that I could run. Once I ran my first race I was hooked. I love the challenge of running, and though not every run is filled with joy, I do have to say it is my passion.

When I laced up my first pair of running shoes well over three years ago, I started like many new runners do, and that is with a walk/run program. Most people do not have the endurance or stamina to run a long distance right off the bat, but with time and patience one can eventually go from a walk/run to running a good three miles in a matter of weeks. However, many experts are now advocating adding walk breaks into your runs to help not only with your endurance, but to help with your recovery.

Four months ago I registered to run the Chicago Marathon. While having run well over 60 races ranging in distances from a 5K to a half-marathon, I have never taken on the challenge of running, much less training for a run of this distance--26.2 miles. As I was reviewing my training schedule with my running coach, we formulated a plan. We decided to return to what many believe to be a backwards approach to training and that is a run/walk method.

Trust me when I say I was very reluctant to do this type of training. It had been years since I had incorporated walk breaks into my runs. While I have read it works well for many, I felt at first that this was a step backwards.

In doing so, I discovered it did not set me back! Jeff Galloway, one of the country’s premier advocates for this type of training, has been teaching this method for many years. He has had such great success with his program that he now leads clinics all over the country to help running coaches teach this run/walk method. He even has had clients who have qualified for the Boston Marathon using this training technique. And others are starting to echo the praise of Galloway’s training program.

I started integrating walk breaks into my long runs well over 6 weeks ago and I am stunned to see my pace per mile is basically the same as when I do an all-out run. BUT, the most important change I have noticed is my recovery between my runs is so much faster. And as a master runner--anyone over age 40 is considered a master runner--it is even more important to allow for better recovery between your runs so your risk for injury is lessened.

So each Saturday morning I head out the door with my Garmin strapped to my wrist set to a 5:1 run/walk ratio. In other words, I run 5 minutes followed by a brisk 1 minute walk only to pick back up to a 5 minute run. I do this for the entire duration of my training run and it is truly amazing how great I feel when I am done. Just remember that you want to incorporate the walk breaks early on. Do not wait until you get so tired before you start incorporating your walk breaks. This must be a schedule you follow from the onset of your runs. And if you are looking for more guidance, one of our members just created a SparkTeam for those using Jeff Galloway’s training technique. I hope you will check it out.

And don’t forget today is National Running Day so get out and run if only for a few minutes.

Knowing that you can still be a runner while throwing in some nice walk breaks in your training, would this encourage you to start a running program? Do you use walk breaks in your own training? Do they help keep you motivated? And if you do not, do you think this will be something you would ever consider?

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AZMOMXTWO 6/16/2021
thank you Report
LIGNSS 5/19/2021
I have been shocked to find this actually works so well. I resisted doing it until my Physical Therapist talked to me at length about how well it works. I felt like walk breaks were a cop out but it has been the only way to ease back into running and I am so grateful to be doing it and rejecting the ideas I had about it being some sort of inferior cop-out! Report
CD24069739 4/18/2021
Thank you Report
CECELW 4/4/2021
I'm a walker. I've never been a runner. It just never interested me Report
Thanks! Report
CD24069739 2/11/2021
Great info Report
EMGERBER 2/8/2021
Walk and run works for me! Report
Thanks Report
PATRICIAAK 7/20/2020
:) Report
CATNAP6291 7/17/2020
good information Report
CD24859788 7/5/2020
I was a runner for many years. About 7 years ago I got sick and had to stop. I started to walk I need to get to do some running like walk/jog. Any advice? Report
I’ve been incorporating running into my walking and finding that I have been running longer and the tide will most likely be changing very soon whereby I’ll be incorporating walking into my running. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
I started with this about 8 months ago - 30 second jog, 3 min walk intervals, and have worked it up to 15 minutes jogging and one minute walking intervals. I'm very please that I can do it - I have never been a "runner". Thank you for the article! Report
Good work Report
Thanks for sharing. Report
I love, love, love the Jeff Galloway method of interval running.

I want to run until I am at least 100 ( Title of one of Jeff's books) Report
Some helpful information Report
This is good info, I love to run. Report
I am almost a year out from my patella stabilization surgery. I recently started this with jogging in place at home. 5 minutes jogging then 1 minute marching. I find it helps with recovery for sure. My knees are less sore this way. PS, just started jogging a couple weeks ago. Report
Good article and a great refresher. Report
Awesome... Report
Great share, Thanks! Report
I used to run about 30 miles a week but then had to have my knee meniscus repaired. After I recovered I ran for a few months but became paranoid of injury again. Has anyone had knee surgery and tried this method of running? Report
you wouldn't happen to have access to a playlist for a run(1) walk(4) playlist would you? I am trying to start running and just working on 1 mile right now. Report
great blog - when I started using this method I found I was improving my 5K time - not to mention recovery
When I gave myself permssion for those planned breaks to walk (recover) it did not feel like I was cheating - it was just part of the plan

3 months post knee surgery I completed my third 5K of my entire life & my time was 4 minutes faster than the pre-surgery time

I finally found a strategy that is working and am excited to continue down the run/walk path Report
Thank you.... I love to walk and have wanted to start running but I usually start off too fast and get scared off. The 5:1 seems doable! Report
Great write up!! I'm just starting and was told to use the walk/run system. Finding it works pretty good. I really like this running thing!1 Thanks for sharing Nancy. : ) G Report
I'd love more information on that watch of yours, Nancy! :) I would love something that I could program at different intervals. Does it beep to let you know when each interval is over? Report
I love this article! Running always intimidated me until I realized that runners walk too! I'm just now trying to get back into running after having my fourth baby in July. I really have missed running. Run/walk is what o have started doing to get back into it. It's nice to feel validated for what I'm doing. Report
This is what I do already, as I'm over 40, have been prone to knee problems, but wanted the added calorie burn of running again. Plus I'd love to run a 10k or longer race one day, if I can stay injury free! I'm going to check out his plan, but I walk 3 min, then run 7 min. That is an easy 10th to keep track of and I go that cycle 8 times, so 80 min total. But it works for 30, 40, 50, 60 min just as easily! I go 4 times (40 min) other and then same back. I can get a long workout in, plus close to an hour of it running, and so far, injury free! Report
This is a great idea. I had completed the advance runners program in Bob Glovers Runners Handbook the first week of June this year. My first week of running 30 minutes continuously didn't go so well. Monday went well. Wednesday that week, I suffered my first heat cramp. It came on right when I was at 25 minutes of jogging. I limped home slowly and intentionally walking. I was trying to not favor it.

I RICEd it and was walking gently that weekend. By early the next week, I was just walking. My right calf muscle was still sore from the cramp. It was a heck of a feeling when it happened. By the end of the week, the soreness went away. I had been doing yoga during this time to help stretch the muscle gently.

I went on a business trip and decided to run on the treadmill. All went well until running at minute 23. I could feel it coming on -another cramp. I slowed to a moderate walk and then a slow walk. I went back to my hotel room, got out my yoga strap and gently stretched it. I did some yoga.

I decided that summer running was out of the question for now. I have just walked TJ most of the summer and have added a bit of jogging here and there. The mornings are cooling down and aren't miserable. I also drink 3-8 oz glasses of water between waking up, feeding the cat, get dressed to head out with TJ.

So this week I tried interspersing some jogging with our walk. That first morning felt a bit miserable but each jog section got a little easier. I felt great when we got home. And Thursday, we jogged more than we walked and it felt great. No heat cramps. We did a lovely 2.1 miles.

I just signed up for the virtual 5k which happens to coincide with the Race for the Cure 5K here in the Memphis area that last Saturday of October! TJ will dig the training as he will get to see new people and places to bark and growl at. He is such a crazy little dog. The high school and middle school girls at the bus stops think he's adorable as long as the don't look him in the eye. Then he acts rude. Turkey.

I'm going to take this advice and run with it that Nancy shared in this blog. I think it will help my heat cramps! Those hurt like the dickens. Report
Love it, love it, love it! I love running, just got out of it for a while, was afraid of harming my joints but have found that it is truly good for me, my bones, and my joints. Just have good shoes, proper form, and don't overdo it. Report
You are a girl after my own heart. I like the walk run method as well. Thanks for sharing!! Report
I just started to incorporate running into my walking. My time is about the same for three miles. I have two damaged knees and ankles so I don't want further injury so I moderate. So far so goo. Report
I have not run in YEARS....stopped years back to protect my knees, plus I have another problem that makes it hard....but yesterday, running back to my house for a camera to photo this house fire, discovered I COULD RUN....surprised me. BUT, I still prefer to walk!!!! Report
I love Galloway's run/walk program--I completed a 4-hour marathon and began by using his technique. It provides such mental relief from an activity that can be mind-numbing to some (and fun to others, I suppose) Report
For Dawndmoore40, if you decide to continue walk/running, start slow and build a fitness base. Buy the best pair of running shoes you can afford! (I don't even look at shoes if they don't cost at least $80 ) As you begin to add distance, limit increases to 10% or 15% a week. For example, if you run for 15 minutes, an increase of 10 to 15% means you add only one or two minutes to your workout. This will minimize the chance of injuries. Also. research plantar fascitis to learn the best stretches to prevent it from recurring. Best of luck to you!
My daughter used Galloway's method to train for her first marathon and she had a fabulous first race! I use walk/run to coach beginner triathletes to their first triathlon. Sprint tri's usually have a water stop at every mile so we practice walking for 30 seconds to a minute for each training mile. That short recovery, plus a drink, really makes the race achievable for my team-mates! Report
I started to do a run/walk program several weeks ago, and I love how it makes me feel, but I have discovered that you burn pretty much the same amount of calories if you walk or if you run. I love the challenge of trying to run, but after a while my knees and my feet really start hurting and I am afraid of injuring myself. I will keep trying to train for quite a while before I would ever consider running a marathon. I have had plantar facitis in both feet so I am not sure it would be a good idea for me to run? Can anyone give me advice on that? Well, good luck with your running everyone and have a great day! Report
Ive been doing this method for 2 weeks now and I love it. You burn more calories and its like getting an interval training. Report
It's amazing how great I feel doing a run/walk program. I also set my garmin and off I go.. Report
I asked my colleague who an avid runner on how to start running program. He suggest me to do run-walk, just like in this blog. It did sound simple - 200m run, 50m walk. Unfortunately, I keep pushing my program forward as 1)I'm so picky to buy the good shoes for running and 2)still afraid to run in front of familiar faces and strangers, lots of jiggling at whole body tend to make me less confidence. Report
This is how I started running a few years ago. I eventually got to the point where I eliminated walk breaks except on my runs that were 8 miles or longer. After an injury and life's complications my running took a back seat for a while. Now I feel like I'm starting all over again and I went back to walk breaks. I found that if I walk two minutes for every mile I run I can last a lot longer. That and alternating my running days with spinning days has really helped increase my endurance. Report
I just started a run walk program as a way to work up to running and I have to say I love it. Report
i am 76. during the 80's i used to run and race a lot. from 95 to 07 i just did very small amounts of running, and then quit from 07 to 08. in 11/08 i decided to train for the two cities 1/2marathon (fresno, cal). i came across the run/walk method, but did not think that was appropriate (at first). however, during training it seemed that i was at least as fast with some walk breaks as i was without any. i did a hilly 10 miler in sept 09 without walking. on oct 18, i did the humboldt redwoods 1/2m using a 9/1 ratio and placing 2nd in my age group (2:17:09). on nov 8 i did the two cities 1/2m using 9/1 and won my age group (2:14:35). so, i consider this a very viable method. it is like a series of repeats which allow you run faster during the running segments, and delay the fatigue and tightening. Report
last year I did my first marathon. I did the run/walk method using a 1 1/2:1 ratio. I just signed up for my second marathon this year and I am now doing a 2:1 ratio of run/walk. I love it. Before I heard of this I was hurting after every run, now I am enjoying my runs again Report
I have been walking since November. Starting February I decided to mix up my 5.5 mile walk with a little jogging. I accomplish this in 90 minutes. My question is as I improve with my routine of walk/jog say 5 min /1 min as you suggest should I add distance? Report
Thanks for the reminder of this valuable approach! Report