WFMW: Injury free running:Run-Walk-Run

I have long chronicled my love/hate affair with running. At times I love running, at times I hate it but I always love how it makes me feel when I am done. What I hate is the fact that every time I started adding any type of distance much beyond 4 miles, I would pick up some sort of injury. I used to be a hard-core puritan. I once berated myself for weeks after running 15 miles (on a treadmill!) because I had slowed down to a shuffle in the 13th mile in order to drink some Gatorade. I was pretty OCD over the fact that running should be running, no walking allowed. (Although some would call the pace I run at now more of a jog, or a shuffle).

And then those pesky injuries, knee, achilles....stupid injuries.

About a year ago, maybe two I came upon this super cool dude and his method. I obsessed over it for ages. If I did not run the entire time...well then its not running. It seemed like cheating.

But Jeff Galloway sees it differently. He says that veteran runners, even elite runners, have improved their times by adding walking intervals into their training and races. His theory is that they end strong because their walking breaks have erased the fatigue in their legs. He calls it Run-Walk-Run.

From his website: Jeff's quest for the injury-free marathon training program led him to develop group training programs in 1978, and to author Runner's World articles which have been used by hundreds of thousands of runners of all abilities. His training schedules have inspired the second wave of marathoners who follow the Galloway RUN-WALK-RUN™, low mileage, three-day, suggestions to an over 98% success rate. Jeff has worked with over 200,000 average people in training for specific goals and is the inventor of the Galloway RUN-WALK-RUN™ method. Jeff is an inspirational speaker to over 200 running and fitness sessions each year. His innovative ideas have opened up the possibility of running and completing a marathon to almost everyone. Philosophically, Jeff believes that we were all designed to run and walk, and he keeps finding ways to bring more people into the positive world of exercise.

I was all freaked out by the concept but eventually repeated injuries and the diminishing desire and drive to run myself into the ground motivated me to try it. Intervals of walking and running even when I was not interval training?!....I had no choice but to give it a shot. And really, it's great.
It immediately allowed me to increase my distance and improve my time. Granted my time when I embarked upon this experiment had become very slow and my distance very short, but I was amazed at how effortless it was as compared to my previous most recent efforts. Recovery time was non-existent. And it has made running fun again. Trust me, at the end of it all I am as "worked out" and sweaty as I ever was, and I feel as though I've had a good run, because I have had a good run. I run most of the time but the walk breaks seem to stretch out my muscles before they have a chance to lock up and the runners hobble kicked in. I am not struggling with shin-splints, sore knees, achilles issues or anything that I was before.
Best of all, my little boys (10 and 8) have taken to running with me. The walking breaks have made it possible for them to jump into my half marathon training program (they are fit little young-uns) and I can't tell you how much more fun and motivating it is to run chatting to my kids then it is to run listening to my iPod. Whodathunkit. My 7 year old daughter and 5 year old son are in on the action too. My 7 year old ran a mile and a half with very little sweat (although there was lots of whining) as her first foray into training. This could not have happened without those precious little walking breaks. And the coolest thing? I look forward to my runs again.

Whether you're just considering getting into running or have been doing it for a while and are looking for a positive change, try it, I bet you'll like it.

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{ L } said...

This is very INTERESTING! I have always wanted to be a runner, but never committed. Have you heard of Couch to 5k? I was going to do a post on it in the future but it is also the walk/run idea. I found this post helpful, thanks!

Laurel @ Ducks in a Row said...

When I started running, I used Galloways way and now 11 years later, I still do it that way! It totally works.

amyswandering said...

My husband trained with the Galloway method & loved it. Glad it works for you!

Kirsty said...

Hey L-I have heard of variation of a couch to 5k. My original introduction to running was couch to 1/2 marathon in a couple of months. Of course I was a teenager at the time. But now that I think about it, my dad did introduce me to running with a R-W-R program and it worked fabulously. I had forgotten that :)

Amy-thanks, it's always encouraging to hear success stories. :)

Laurel, so good to know. Thanks. As in my comment above, that's how I was introduced to training too, I had just forgotten it has been so long. I do remember walking during that first half marathon with my dad, I'm not sure if it was routinely or just when we got tired but during the early training I certainly remember prescribed walk times. Thanks for your input.

nyn said...

This is exactly how I started back into training about 18 months ago. It really helped me get back into it. I love this method and have been having runners burn out lately. Thanks for the good reminder I am going to try it again.

Jen said...

I will have to look into this! Very inneresting :) I've been running since March & love it, hubby's trying to endure it, maybe this will help us out.

Loralee and the gang... said...

I love this run-walk-run method! I will try it. I am also thinking of doing a half-marathon, at least doing the distance if not an organized run, by the end of this summer. So I will add this to my training! Thanks!