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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 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
I've slacked off on my walking but this sounds like it might give me the kick start I need to get back into it. Thanks for the advice.
I too am a fan. I started with 1:1 and now I am at 5:1. I haven't gotten brave enough to do anything more than a 5K - YET! I have several friends that want me to register for the Indy Half Marathon. Maybe next year. Report
This is the only way I can do it. I have learned to accept that maybe I will never be a long distance runner, but even a little more today is more than I was able to do yesterday and that gives me encouragement! Report
This method got me back into running. I recommend it. Report
This is a good method to enhance your beginning running program. This keeps you from getting tired so fast. Report
Run-walk is an outstanding method for running at all levels and distances. People new to running like it because it is amazing how you can begin to build up miles so easily and people like me like it because it has been very easy on my knees over many years. I am pleased to hear so many timers going off in races these days. An interval watch (has to have at least 2 intervals--timex ironman is one brand but make sure it says 2 intervals) is what I used to get started. Report
I did run/walk for my marathon too. the only problem is, after mile 20, both running and walking are equally painful! Report
I used the walk/run method 20 years ago and went from a size 16 to a size 5 in 5 months. I loved it! I ran at a school track and started out by challenging myself by running to one goal post without stopping, then walking to the next until I could run the whole track without stopping. This article has motivated me to work in this routine again. I also appreciated LOVELILY1's suggestions on getting a good heart monitor and pair of suitable running shoes...I think I might be going about running (the treadmill) in a way that isn't motivating me to keep up with this routine (I have a heart monitor on it, but I haven't been paying attention to why I should pay attention to it!). Thanks for this article! Report
I NEVER run, probably because I am a pretty heavy smoker (yuck, I know). But I think I'm going to try to do this tonight, maybe not running for 5 mintues straight though. Report
This is great to know! When I get back to running, I will definitely start taking short walk breaks in the 5:1 rhythm & see how it goes. I had never thought it a GOOD thing to slow down to a walk before I felt a real need to, but the reasoning makes sense.

I fell during my run a couple of days ago & will need some walking-only time for recovery. Hope to get back to running soon. Report
i've been running for many years now and have completed 3 marathons, 3 half-marathons, and a bunch of other races (albeit very slowly! my fastest marathon was about 4 hrs 18 minutes). i always felt like it would be "cheating" to take walk breaks, so i never did, in training or in racing. i'm now getting back into running after a long hiatus, and this article gave me pause. if walk breaks don't slow me down, maybe i should think seriously about using them. it may help me build my mileage back up without injury, and maybe even help me get faster. i think i'll start incorporating walk breaks into my long runs and see how it goes. Report
I haven't run since I was in high school, well, not on purpose. This is a great method. I love to walk, but there are times when my legs want to stretch and now that I am older I fear injuring myself. I am going to try this method and see just how far I can go. Report
I devised a similar training routine for my aquarunning training. I use the 6:3 ratio in which I do water jogging for 6 laps and increase the intensity and speed to a run for 3 laps. My plan is to gradually adjust the ration to 3:3.

I'm four years out from having both hips replaced (not at the same time), but I wanted to run in yesterday's Inaugural National Day of Running. I've never run before and wanted to participate in spite of being restricted because of the hip replacements.

I've been doing water aerobics for a few years and when I became a sparkie and saw water jogging as a cardio listed in the fitness tracker, I added that to my fitness routine. So, about a month ago I began training for yesterdays run which I did and want to do again.

I've heard of others running on land after hip replacements against the advice of their surgeons. I'd rather not. Report
I like Lovelily1 got a run/walk training info from the Runners World website and am only on week 1 but I have heard many good things about this type of training. Both my son and I are hoping to stick with it to the end of the 8 week program. It is always good to read about the many people that turn their lives around by healthy eating and exercise. The number of success stories encourage you and make you aware that you can succeed. For all that are working towards a healthier life... Keep up the good work!!! Report
This is what I do. I get shin splints so I can't run without the walk breaks (yet). I walk for 2 minutes and run for 1. I burn a lot of calories and I am not sore when I am done. Report
Wow...good for you! I run/walk hashes... actually, I used to only walk, first due to the terraine we sometimes follow, and, of course the extra weight I carry around.. now 30 lbs less... Lately, I have been trying to run a few hundred feet(yes,feet) and walk... yesterday, I ran at least a third of the 3 mile hash...and I felt great and today I feel great...I was worried that the combination might not be as good for me as all of one or the other...but now I have a renewed confidence! WooHoo! Report
Oh I loved this article!!!

I started this one year ago and lost 45 pounds without dieting ( I'm 5"4, 40 years old, and now weigh 120). Before I started on a run/walk routine I had not exercised for over 15 years and could not run for 1 minute even if I were being chased. Now I run 25/30 miles a week.

Because this has been so successful for me I just thought I would share what worked for me. I hope it helps.

1) I started off using a run/walk program I found on Runners World. I was in no shape to start off running 5 minutes and walking 1 minute and this program allowed me to build up my endurance.

2)I bought and got fitted for a good pair of running shoes. You can find out if you're a underpronator, overpronator - which will help you determine which shoe is best for your foot. This made a huge difference in my running. You can find this information out on Runners World ( okay¡K I like that siteƒº

3) STRETCH 30 minutes after your run /walk - but NOT before. I learned the hard way and ended up hurting my IT Band. Talk about pain.

4) I bought a good heart rate monitor - oh it's so worth it. Let me count the reasons why: 1) Helped me not to run too fast so I could run/walk longer. 2) Because I stayed in my target heart rate I lost weight faster 3) I loved seeing the calories I burned ( I use the Polor F6 and really like it).

I just had to share my experience. GOOD LUCK TO EVERYONE WHO STARTS THIS PROGRAM!!! ļ
I just came back from the gym and I do the run /walk for 45 mins and I feel very good,so congrats to you, and to all who try to do it, good luck. Report

TRUST ME, that was my fear as well, but if you take the walk breaks EARLY on from the onset that should not be a problem. The problem arises when we allow fatigue to set in and therefore it is harder to get back going. What I love about the walk breaks it allows for a good mental break as well. Keep in mind you don't stroll...you kick it up to a very brisk walk. Good luck! Report
This sounds intriguing. I regularly run now and finished my first half marathon in February without having to walk (I did slow down to get and drink water at every water stop). I would love to do a full marathon someday but do not have the time to train for one. Maybe I should commit and start using this method to keep me motivated. I do get very tired of running after about an hour and a half. My problem is that I am afraid once I've stopped running, I won't have the motivation to start up again! Report
This intrigues me....I'm a novice runner who has built up to 5 miles and now wants to shorten my time...I'm 57 and I was feeling today like I was possibly going to need another day of recovery before my scheduled run day today...believe I'll try this rather than miss a run. Report
I have never been a runner, but I have always had a desire to run. I used to have trouble breathing and was afraid I would have an asthma attack when I attempted to run. I started walking on the treadmill and running during commercials. Initially I couldn't make it through the commercials. Now I run/walk and I am amazed at the change. My breathing has evened out and I feel sooooo good afterwards.
I will start with a 1:5 ratio of run one minute and walk five minutes. I can barely make it through a walk, so running seems a universe away. I will walk the five minutes first to warm up and then start the sequence of run one minute and walk five minutes. Thank you for your entry as it has got me thinking about exercise. Report
I would love to be an active runner but my knees don't always allow me too! this is a good approach and I am going to try it. Report
I started running by using the run/walk method. Just last week I realized how much longer I'm able to run at one time. I'm hoping to do a 5K this fall! Thanks for this article!! Report
This is a great method, no matter your distance. As a result of the walk breaks, you experience less wear and tear. I do not typically have a 'recovery' period post run because of this method. I too am preparing for a half and full marathon using the Galloway method. Very helpful! It's not about the fast...it's about the finish! Report
I always walk my dogs on this trail in my neighborhood, but I never run because I know that I couldn't run more than 2 minutes... and I'm really embarrassed if people see that I can only do that... but I suppose that I will start trying to integrate a little running and see if I can build my tolerance :) Thanks for the article! Report
I run/walk. I didn't even know it was a method! I can do 30 minutes of straight run on the treadmill but in the hills of my neighborhood I run out of steam. I figure I go about 15 mintues on the run before I think I'm going to burst then I walk till I feel good again. Report
hey just got off my butt and did a short walk/run.... :) Report
I do a walk/run instead of a run/walk. The warmup walking time extends my running ability. I am not into being the 1st one out the gate or over the finish line. I just enjoy being able to do it! Report
I used this method for a short time due to an injury while training for a half marathon. I may consider it to train for a full marathon, though it does make me feel like I'm taking 2 steps backward. I've read a number of testimonials from people who have used it and they've said how great it is not to be totally worn out and beat up at the end of the marathon. Sounds good to me! Report
Timely blog, Nancy! I just got back on the C25K horse after last running (badly) in mid-April. I blogged about it Tuesday (6/2/09) & got lots of encouragement to start a little ... easier than W4, hahaha, so I'm heading out today, not quite sure if I'll have W2 or W3 in my iPod. Yes, it is counter-intuitive to "step back" in training techniques, isn't it?

I'll probably not run a marathon. 5K's & 10K's are more my style (altho I never did see the end of my 10K in April, due to my DH's face's untimely introduction to the sidewalk - he's back to "normal" now, btw).

Is Galloway's 5:1 technique for training only or do you plan to do intervals in your marathon? And is it more for longer distances? Once I complete C25K, I'll have to play around w/ it...

Nancy (formerly Grancy) :-)

Thanx Laura (LLBean) for linking me to this! :-) Report
I started SP in January and after working out at home doing walking videos and elliptical workouts, I decided to register for a run/walk. I figured I could do a 4 mile walk in under an hour and went for it. Once I got started I ran a little bit of each mile and finished in 50 minutes. I was so proud of myself, I registered for a 5K a couple of weeks later and ran even farther. I continue to add run breaks to my walks. I don't know that I will ever be a runner, but I like this approach and will look into even more! Report
This is acually the plan I want to work up to... I may want to do a long run or two, but I believe my basic program will be walk/runs. Johnathon Roche swears by interval training... he says it burns more calories than keeping your heart rate maxed out during your whole exercise routine! Report
9 years ago.... i began a walk/run program... an interval program.. although at the time i had never heard either of those terms.... my hubby was running three miles a day when i moved down to be with him so i wanted to run with him... well i started out outside.. i didn't want to join the gym at first because of how overweight i was (i'd love to be that overweight now! ha ha)

anyway....i started walking on a walk/bike path... and then i would walk some and then jog for just like thirty seconds.. and then i would walk some more and jog for maybe another thirty seconds.. til it was a minute....then another minute.....etc...

in just about a month i was running an entire three miles.... so you don't have to convince me that this WORKS! ha ha.. as far as i was concerned i had invented it...lol.... since i had never heard of it before and my hubby thought it was very strange at the time...but he had to admit...it WORKS! Report
This is how I started running early spring. Works for me and my endurance has quadrupled! Report
I have been running for almost 10 years and I have always incorporated walks, even if it's just at the water stops during races. I've run anything from a 5k to a marathon and truly believe in the Jeff Galloway concept. I started out with 5:2 ratio, then moved on to 6:2, 7:1, 8:1, etc....and it works. Now that I am master runner, it makes recovery that much quicker! Thanks Jeff! Report
I understand the concept of interval training and why it makes sense. However, I prefer to walk on the treadmill at 4.0 and change my incline anywhere from 5 to 15 on the machine. On the days when I do intervals instead (and my intervals are more like walk 4, run 1 or 2) I burn fewer calories on those days. That makes it harder for me to want to continue it, but I do for the sake of keeping as much variety in my workouts as possible. Report
I always go for time out on the trails not really worrying about whether I'm running or walking just getting out there and going.... and going... and going. Report
I can ride my bike 20 miles, no prob, but when I tried the "You can run a mile without stopping," I could not do it. I had problems from the get go with my gluts hurting. After trying it several different times, I prescribed to the counsel of "if it hurts, DON'T do it." I thought I was in good shape, but could not run/jog. Report
WOW! after reading this article I am going to plan on starting some walk run program and look into that new team. Thank you for this!
Debbie Report
Back in March I joined a women cab wal/run clinic. As a beginning runner I was very nervous about starting this up. I didn't want any injuries and such. However, this is exactly the way we started, walking then running. It works great! Each week we would increase the amount of time we were running. This is a good plan of action for if you are just getting started or a seasoned runner. Report
Like SIMPLELIFE09 I started the Couch to 5K program a month ago....it got me started (I have walked 2 - 5 mi 4x's a week for years) back to running something I gave up back in the 70's.
I went out of town for a couple of weeks and when I got back, I started up on my "couch" program again only this time I didn't bring my stop watch. After two days of just running at a relaxed pace incorporated with walking intervals, I was amazed at how much time I was taking off my previously recorded records.
Not sure I will reach my goal of a 5 k by my 58th Birthday (June 30th), but I'm well on my way to getting there in a "pain" free way.
I look forward to reading more about the Jeff Galloway training method. Report
I HAVE to take walk break lol. Feels good to know that I ran on national running day though, woohoo! Report
I am not a competitive runner, but interval training using run/walk is my go to exercise. I first started running at age 59, so according to your definition I was a master runner from day one. I had already lost most of my weight by the time I started running and I started doing it simply because I could. Over the last couple of years, my body has learned to become pretty efficient at running, meaning it isn't a big calorie burner for me. But doing run/walk intervals (as opposed to just running) has been fantastic cross training and improves my cardio vascular endurance more than just consistant running. It lets me teach hour long aerobic fitness classes (Zumba and kickboxing) without getting winded and both impresses and frustrates my mostly younger clients trying to keep up with me....LOL. Report
Gosh...and I thought what I was doing was called cheating! I didn't know I was on the cutting edge. Report
wow - good to know that what I was doing naturally is a good thing! So far, I have not broken the 5 minute mark for running (I'll get there)... Report
Great advice. I'm also doing the Disney marathon in 2010 and this approach will help me train! Report
I signed up to do the Disney Half Marathon in 2010, this was just after 2 months of running. I am going to use Jeff's method of run/walk for this distance. I love it for longer distances. I am planning to run a whole 10K then compare it to run/walk concept. Signing up for those sparkteams this AM. Report
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