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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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I am ABSOLUTELY a huge proponent of the Galloway method! I have his books, and I've used his training and expertise for many races. His methods helped me trim minutes off my 5K time, and helped me complete Hospital Hill half-marathon this past weekend, a race known for its difficult inclines, without difficulty and in my best time. The walk breaks WORK. And you don't feel like you 'cheated'; you feel GREAT afterward. Report
keep up the good work Report
I joined a running group for beginners and that's what we do. At the end (12 weeks) we run a 10k. We started with 1 & 1 and progressed up to 10 & 1 where we ran our first 5k. We're currently on week 9 and are now working on the distance while trying to maintain a 10 & 1 but dropping it down if we need to. I find it REALLY helps to have that break to catch your breathe, drink some water and just get your mind re-focused! Report
I have been doing a jog/walk for a couple weeks now. Last night I jogged the whole 2 miles and was surprised that I didn't have a better time. Proof to me that the run/walk strategy does have some benefits. Report
I just started doing the running and walking on the tredmil. I have never ran before on the treadmil and it is great. So far I can only run for 2 and half mins at a time. Working very hard to learn this new habit. I did notice at night I have a lot of leg pain. Any way to prevent that ? I stretch almost three times after my work out and between the time I go to bed. Above all I like it.... and it is a good way to loose weight. Report
I ran my first 5K this weekend using a "run 4 minutes, walk 2 minutes" ratio. From a cardio standpoint I didn't even burn as many calories as I do on the elliptical in the same amount of time (I wore my heart monitor), so that was a bit disappointing -- but the intervals definitely make running possible. What I also discovered was, running is a heck of a lot harder on my body (hips, mainly) than the elliptical is, and I wonder if it's worth it at my age to be trying to become a runner. Hmmmm. I'll do more training runs and maybe a couple more 5Ks this summer to try to sort that out. Report
my wife and I a both walking up to 2 miles a day were down to about 55 minites
we are senior but both ex jocks
I have much too much weight, will this regiment halp me
my knees can take just so much, so I have to make sure im warmed up

I increased my water and reduced my salt to just what is in the foods

am I on the right track?

My wife is following suit

any suggestions.

i feel a little better now but want to improve my weight condition

I know its better than nothing but am I just wasting my time

thanks larry Report
I found a 10K training program in one of the Spark articles, and have been using that. I am ready, I think to go from walk 4, run 1 to walk 3, run 2. I also have been doing interval training where I speed up during the last 30 seconds of the run phase. I have only done this on the treadmill, but it has worked for me every time! Report
I just got started trying to run/walk again. So far I can only do 1/1 for 30 minutes. I am going to increase it to a 2/1 next week.

Wish me luck! Report
I had never really felt the desire to run before...but recently, maybe from reading Sparkpeople, I had thought about it. Our treadmill broke last week so we have been walking out in the neighborhood while we wait for our new one...On Friday I broke into a run once...Saturday 3 times, today 4...I just run until I feel out of breath and then walk some more at a quick pace..I'm really enjoying it, I wish I had chosen to try it during cooler weather but I guess the time wasn't right then...I think tomorrow I will try it in a more planned out way...1 minute running for every 8 walking sounds about right for me. Report
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Yep, with the Hounds I do about 5-10mi. a day. Maintained weight loss of 60+ lbs for 5 yrs! Report
I have not been as successful at running since I got into my 40's...I can't wait to try this out and see if it helps! Report
I really like this idea. I NEVER thought of myself as a runner but I decided to stop complaining and try slowly. Im on my 4th week of building up my endurance. The walking really helps with my recovery between the 3 and 5 min runs which I NEVER thought I could do but somehow did. With a few more weeks like you said hopefully ill build up to 3 miles.

When I ran my first half marathon 2 months ago I didn't take any walk breaks and I averaged 12 min miles and was exhausted at the end. I'm now training for my 3rd 1/2 marathon using run 1 mile walk 1 min. and I'm averaging a consistent 10 min. mile even on my long runs which are up to 9 miles and I have enough energy for a sprint at the end. I'd say this method works. Report
A few weeks ago I started my own walk/jog program during my lunch. It's actually not even a program. I just walk fast for 2 minutes, then run as long as I can, walk fast until I recover, run again, etc, etc. I do this for 1 mile in one direction, and a mile back, for a total of 2 miles. I usually end up going about 13-15min/mile. While I still can't run more than a minute or so straight, it takes me less time to recover and can now fit more runs in. Report
I want to run but am having such a difficult time with shin splints. I'm getting ready to go see a physical trainer to see if he can help me. I hope he can! Report
After walking two marathons, I just took up running last summer. Two weeks ago I ran my first marathon. I used a 10:1 ratio and was able to stick to it for most of the race. Towards the end and on the hardest hill on the course, I added a few extra walk breaks, but I was really pleased that I was able to stick to my plan and finish in the time range I had hoped to. I have been using walk breaks all along, but more on an "as needed basis". When I started using the interval timer on my new watch (estimating the frequency of my walk breaks) I found that I am faster on my short runs. Report
I've dreamed about running (literally), but when I try I never seem to be quite successful. I can probably run about one minute before I need to walk again. I can to aerobics for an hour, I can do the pre-core or eliptical machine for an hour...but running never seems to work. I always hear about breathing correctly and finding your stride or rhythm, but I have no idea what that means. How does one breath correctly while running? I'm open to any suggestions I can get because I'd love to become a runner. Report
Sounds interesting, I'll give it a try! Report
I used to run all the time but now I am out of shape. Reading this blog those has reminded me of how much i love running and I am going to start it up again......right now!! Report
Hmmm. I never *have* been an elite runner. :) Run/walk just happens to feel most natural for me, so that's what I've been doing - glad to hear it is actually helping me to recover faster and prevent injury! :) Good luck with the marathon! Report
I completed my first marathon at 58 using the Galloway method. I'm now 65 and planning on doing the Goofy Challenge 2010 (the half marathon on Saturday AND the full marathon on Sunday, at Walt Disney World, in January). Official training begins July 18, but I'm getting a head start on it.............
The walk breaks allow you to go much further.............it's not a crime to walk in a marathon. Only the "elite" runners don't take breaks.....and their training is their JOB. I'll never be fast, but I'll always finish. Report
Walk breaks are super important for my training. I'm a lot less stiff and tired the next day after a run. Report
cool Report
I did this method for my training and the Chicago Marathon several years ago. Report
I will have to try this. It happens to be the method I use with my kids. They are both lacking in the athletic department and are pretty skinny kids. They run very, very slowly and hate it. So, we've started with having them run a lap, then walk a lap. Maybe we'll try the 5:1. Thanks for the article. Great idea. Report
I just started running about a week and a half ago. So right now I am just running one minute and walking one minute. repeating as often as I can keep it up! Since we had to quit the gym to save money, I'm glad I can find something to do! Although the weather doesn't always allow for it. But I'm trying! =) Report
I started running 2 years ago using the run/walk method. Before using this method I would always get frustrated with running because I was pushing myself to hard. I am now training for a half marathon still using this method and I feel great. I never thought of myself as a runner but turns out anyone can be! Report
I have nothing against the run/walk method but I gotta say, it doesn't work for me. My body operates best straight running. Report
It works for me!!!! Run/walk is the way to go! I started out several years ago using the run/walk plan at www.runningforwomen.com I never thought I could run even a mile, but using run/walk, I've done several 5K's and ran my first 10K this year. My next goal is a Half Marathon! I think the best thing about run/walk is that I enjoy it. I look forward to getting out there and it's something that I have been able to stick with all these years. It gives me a good challenge, but I don't get overwhelmed. Run/walk helps me to break up what seems to be impossible into small achievable goals. I can reward myself with a walk break each time I finish a run segment and feel a great sense of accomplishment at the end when realize just how far I was able to go. As Jeff Galloway says 'Walk early, walk often'. It's the way to go! Thanks for the great article. Report
I know many marathoners who use this as their normal running pattern, both in training and for races.

It is also a great method when used in reverse for those who are starting out on the road for fitness and endurance training. Walk normally for five minutes then briskly for one minute then normally for five. Repeat this pattern for two weeks of walks then increase the faster portion of the walk to two minutes out of every six. Increase the number of minutes at a fast walk every two or three weeks until you are fast walking for five minutes and recovering for one minute, then switch it up to walking briskly for five minutes and jogging for one minute and repeat the whole pattern this time walking and jogging. This works! Report
I heard from a friend a long time ago who ran track, say that is how they trained...it increases your endurance. I have never been a great runner, but this way does help me. Report
Thanks for the great article! I have started running this year and have never stopped the walk breaks. My endurance has really increased. I was never a runner in my youth and feel like I deprived myself of the high you get from running. Report
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I too, walk and run. I did the Broad Street Run this year running and walking because I get out of breath. I did come in 5th in my age group - female 70 - 74. I do cross train which also helps. Am looking forward to doing the midnight madness run for the benefit of BACK ON MY FEET! Report
Covert Bailey, who had a special on PBS wrote "FIT OR FAT" and showed how women need exercise to help the body detox and to make way for pregnancy. He loved doing "wind sprints." That is tough to do. Report
The only time I have ever really enjoyed running was about 35 years ago when I played field hockey in college. But lately I have been starting to run in small intervals when I take the dog out for a walk. She loves it and it is getting easier for me too. I will have to check out this run/walk method...it sounds like a formal name for something I am already working on. Once again, SP expands my world! Report
I've been following a 3:1 run/walk program for the past couple of weeks. This morning I changed up to 5:2. I know that this works for me; especially since I tend to get bored easily when I'm exercising. And I can incorporate some speed work easily, too. Report
This sounds like something even I could do. I'm going to try it. It also gives me an idea on how I can make my eliptical workouts more managible without feeling overwhelmed. I'll let you know if it works. Report
WOW! I tried it today. Including my warm-up and cool-down, I managed 4.25 miles in 65 minutes (on a treadmill, of course; it has been raining everyday). That's my highest mileage, and my best pace. I did not feel constrained to starting out at a pace I could keep up for the duration of my workout. I just set my speed 5 minutes at a time. I'm feeling more like a runner everyday. Thanks, Coach!! Report
I've recently become re-interested in becoming a runner after getting burned out on the notion from my early experiences with running. I have been interested in a while, but was intimidated by my past - in school, the coaches always said walking was a sign of weakness, and if you wanted to run, you had to continue to push to do so. I've recently read training advice that encourages starting out with a steady walk schedule, then increase either speed or distance, but not both, and using a run-walk schedule such as you've suggested, continuing to bump up the run ratio a little more over time, until you are a runner. I'm going to start this plan soon, hopefully I'll be able to know the joys of being a runner. I've also recently cut back to smoking only on a casual basis instead of a regular basis, and hope to soon cut it out entirely, so I'll have more breath for running, as well! Report
I've been combining running and walking for a few months. When I get doctor clearance, I'm going back to it. Report
There is nothing new under the sun! I was 65 last month and have started using this run/walk methos again in a gentle way. BUT I know it as Scouts' Pace and leaarned it when I was a Girl guide in the 1950's when we had to run 40 paces, walk 40 paces over an extended course to get our fitness up. I have used it intermittently ever since. Report
This is the only way to do endurance events -- I've done 5 half-marathons and 2 full marathons, and the sense of accomplishment and feeling good after finishing make this part of my lifestyle! Report
That sounds much easier than the Couch to 5K program I'm trying to follow at the moment. I'm still on week 4, but I can see that soon I'm expected to run for longer spells without stopping. Getting a bit nervous about that. I will finish the C25K program because I never give up. But after that I might make the 5:1 ratio my normal routine. I'm a "master runner" and think walk/run will let me continue doing this exercise for many years to come. Report
I am doing this program as well! Training for a half marathon in December. I love it and i have never ran before. Report
Great article. I am in training for my first 10k in August (did my first 5k in April) and I like this concept. I'm pretty able to do 6 miles at a 10 min/mile pace which I think for me is good. I think I will begin to use this concept in some of my training runs. I will research it more on my own. My goal is to do a 10k, 10 mile, half-marathon and then finally a full marathon,

I also highly recommend the use of a HR monitor Report
I used to do a run/walk program, but now I'm on a jogging program. I still walk home after I jog. Report
I used to run marathons until age 36 both full and halves.

I also cross-trained with triathlons, biathlons, and century rides.

I worked for an organization 60 hours weekly and if the weather permitted cycled to work (46 miles roundtrip), ran at lunch, ate at my desk, and motivated/ mentored a whole lot of people.

I ran 5, 10, 12, 15, and 20k's many weekends, worked out at the gym 7 days weekly and didn't date any guys, although they attempted to pursued me....

I did it for myself because it was all a great stress reliever and I loved being a size 4 / 6 depending on the designer.

Run/walk is a good exercise too, which I have recently re-adapted.

Nice blog article, keep up the great work. Report
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