The Run-Walk-Run method in training runners

The Run-Walk-Run method is an alternation of running and walking and, as practice shows, allows you to achieve impressive results in training. How it appeared, who is suitable and what is its secret, says Ekaterina Preobrazhenskaya.

The history of the appearance of the method

In 1973, American runner and trainer Jeff Galloway opened a running store and decided to organize collective training sessions in order to attract customers. From the first race, he realized that the people coming were novice runners and that it was very difficult for them to run continuously.

Then he suggested that everyone alternate running and walking, and took the time and number of intervals individually, depending on a particular person’s abilities and experience. During the following trainings, he continued to apply this scheme, and it worked perfectly: people completed the tasks with great pleasure, and after 8 weeks, each of them was able to complete a 5 or 10 km test.

The most important result for Jeff was that none of his wards were injured.

Run-Walk-Run method: how and why to alternate running and walking
Jeff Galloway

Galloway is a professional runner who represented the United States in the 10,000m at the 1972 Munich Olympics and coached track and field athletes such as Steve Prefontaine, Bill Rogers and Frank Shorter. When he started working with amateurs, he wrote a book in which he set out his thoughts on the method of alternating walking and running, calling it Run-Walk-Run.

This is why the term itself is associated with Galloway’s name, although this approach was used even before the book was published.

Why alternate running and walking?

There can be many reasons to use this method in training. It is thought to be useful mainly for beginner runners, but it is not: it can help improve results for those who already have running experience.

The fact is that when walking, the pulse and the release of lactic acid decreases, and the released lactate begins to be processed. In other words, you are resting and gaining strength to run the next interval. This means that in total you can run a greater distance and spend more time in a trained state than if you were running non-stop.

Thus, progress will be greater, self-confidence will increase – after all, distances that seemed too long will submit to you.

There is another important advantage: during walking segments, the load is reduced not only on the heart, but also on the musculoskeletal system, which reduces the risk of injury. Most often they arise precisely because of the overload of muscles, joints, ligaments and tendons.

Finally, the psychological aspect also plays a role: after running segments, during walking, endorphins are actively produced, which brings a feeling of pleasure and euphoria. During training, you feel a surge of positivity again and again, and you love it. The body remembers this state, associates it with training, and you want to run again.

As a result, a training habit is created – an effect that many beginners, not just runners, expect.

How to alternate running and walking

It is impossible to name a universal walking/running algorithm that would suit everyone, because the level of training and the initial abilities of the runners are different. It is necessary to take into account factors such as age, the presence or absence of excess weight, previous experience and much more.

It’s best to either contact a professional trainer to come up with a training plan, or choose the duration and number of intervals yourself so that they are comfortable, but not too easy.

The general principle is to start with small running intervals, alternating them with walking intervals of the same length, then increase the number. Then, lengthen the running segments and shorten the walk. At some point you will notice that you are doing two or three long running segments and walking a bit in between.
Run-Walk-Run method: how and why to alternate running and walking

For example, you started with 5 repetitions of 2 minutes of running and 2 minutes of walking (20 minutes in total). Then gradually achieved 8 such repetitions (32 minutes). Then they move on to 3 minutes of running + 2 minutes of walking, 3 minutes of running + 1 minute of walking, 5 minutes of running + 2 minutes of walking, etc. Finally, you do workouts like two 15-minute runs with 3 minutes of walking in between. The next step is to run for half an hour without stopping.

When you get there, you can gradually move into full running workouts. You don’t need to completely exclude walking: you can just insert it less often or run faster for small segments, moving between them (these are the so-called “interval workouts”).

How fast to walk

Walking between runs should be quite vigorous, but still at a pace that will lower your heart rate and make you feel comfortable enough. However, for everyone, this rhythm can be individual. In addition, gradually, as physical condition increases, the pace of walking (as well as running) may increase, and the pulse, which is the most accessible indicator of load, will remain the same, or even decrease.

To read: Heart rate zones: at what heart rate to run

Who is the method for?

The Run-Walk-Run method is best for you if:

  • you are a beginner runner and half an hour of running gives you a high heart rate, shortness of breath and a feeling of anxiety
  • you are overweight
  • you are recovering from an injury or illness
  • you have a predisposition to injury (chronic injury)
  • you want to use the workout primarily to lose weight
  • you want to create the habit of running
  • you want to increase your running volume.

Run-Walk-Run Slimming

This method is especially suitable for those who want to lose excess pounds. The fact is that it is during a low-intensity load that most fat is used in energy metabolism. If you are unable to maintain a low heart rate while running, then step transitions will allow you to do so, you will not leave the low intensity zone.

In addition, using this method, you can train longer, that is, burn more calories.

Read more: Can you run while overweight?

Run-Walk-Run for training purposes

First of all, the method is effective in extending the distance and duration of training. It allows you to smoothly increase the intensity of training without creating excessive load on the heart and musculoskeletal system.

It may seem surprising, but marathon runners also use this method. Often, running 42.2 km non-stop is not possible, but this magical distance can be conquered by periodically switching to walking.

In addition, the Run-Walk-Run method is used to develop the body’s ability to use fat in energy metabolism, and in the long term it is extremely useful, because even a thin person will have enough reserves for many hours. of physical labor. .

Finally, when you start training after an injury, using this method can reduce the risk of the injury reoccurring.

Thus, Run-Walk-Run is suitable for both beginners and experienced runners and helps to increase distance and duration of runs, reduce weight, resume training after injury or illness and conquer distance. coveted. You can read more about this technique in Jeff Galloway’s book, but in reality the main thing is to reasonably assess your abilities and, based on them, calculate running and walking intervals.

Read next: Low heart rate running: how and why to train at low intensity