If you are a beginner runner looking to improve endurance and conditioning to run for prolonged periods of time without risking fatigue, injury, or burnout, then you are in the right place.
The Walk/Run Method Demystified
The run/walk method is a great method for a beginner runner to get their foot in the door, and for experienced athletes to improve their running performance and race times.
The guy who pioneered this method is Jeff Galloway— a former Olympian, and legendary coach. According to his website, Jeff has coached over 200,000 walkers and runners to improve their running performance throughout his coaching career.
The Run/Walk method is based on a simple premise: regular walking breaks can improve your performance and reduce the risk of injury. This involves following an explicit training strategy by mixing low intensity running intervals with walking breaks.
The Benefits of Run Walking
The Run/Walk method is great for beginners as they don’t have yet enough cardio reserves to run for extended periods of time.
This approach can help them transition slowly into becoming full-time runners without increasing the risks of discomfort, injury, or burnouts.
A well-planned walk/run session can postpone fatigue, prevent muscle cramps, reduce the risks of pain and injury, improve recovery rate, and get you fit without getting hurt.
Former runners returning to running after a long layoff should ease into regular training to walk/run sessions, which can help fortify a wide range of slow-twitch fibers.
Intermediate and advanced runners can benefit from this method too as it can help them stay safe while nursing an injury as well as improve their race times, according to Jeff Galloway.
Walking to Running Ratios
To make the most out of this method, take the walk breaks before fatigue starts to set in.
Contrary to popular belief, the walk/run method does not mean that you should take breaks only when tired. Au contraire, it’s about taking brief walk break even if you are not tired.
If you wait until you are completely drained, you might go over the red line, thus burning your engine before you are done working out.
Here are 3 walk-to-running ratios to try out. Choose whatever ratio of walking and running that works for you.
The Beginner: Run for 15 to 30 seconds. Then walk for one to two minutes
The Intermediate: Run for two to five minutes. Then walk for one to two minutes.
The Experienced: Run for eight to ten minutes. Then walk for 30-second to one full minute.
Word to the wise, stay within your fitness level the entire time. That’s the cardinal rule for injury-free training. No more. No less. So, be careful.
Go For Time, Not Distance
Measure the walk and run segments in terms of minutes, not distance. Doing so takes the pressure off of having to cover a particular distance at a set pace.
The Ideal Session
Pick a distance, a 2-miler loop around your neighborhood for instance,
Next, after a proper 5-minute walk as warm up, do an easy run/walk routine: jog slowly for 1 minute, then walk for two to three minutes for recovery. Make sure you’re fully recovered after the walk segment.
Repeat the cycle for 5 to 7 times. End the session with a proper cool-down.
Perform this workout at least three times per week.
Once you can run for 10-minutes nonstop, then increase to 12, then 15, and so on.
Tips for Beginners
First, you got to assess your fitness level. Check my posts here.
Next, set clear and realistic targets. A 5K (3.1 miles) distance, for instance. Here is my full guide to fitness goals setting.
Then, aim to increase training volume, intensity, and frequency.
If you follow one of these training plans consistently, you’ll be, eventually, able to run a 3.1-mile race within 8 to 12 weeks of beginning your training.
The Internet is full of elaborate training programs, but I believe in keeping it simple.
Here are more tips for a great training plan:
- Aim to exercise at least three times per week.
- Walk, run/walk, or run for 20 to 30 minutes, three days a week.
- Cross train or rest on your off days.
- Keep your workouts at a conversational pace. AKA the Talk Test.