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Thursday, October 21st, 2010

Jeff Galloway

  • Virtually eliminate overuse injuries
  • Enjoy every run
  • Carry-on with all life activities, even after marathons
  • Run faster in marathons and half marathons (surveys show  runners who practice the run-walk method will finish, on average, over 13 minutes sooner than those who don’t)

One of the wonderful aspects of running is that there is not a definition of a “runner” that you must live up to. There also are not any rules that you must follow as you do your daily run. You are the captain of your running ship and it is you who determines how far, how fast, how much you will run, walk, etc. While you will hear many opinions on this, running has always been a freestyle type of activity where each individual is empowered to mix and match the many variables and come out with the running experience that he or she chooses. Walking is the most important component for the first time runner, and can even give the veteran a chance to improve time. Here’s how it works.

Once a runner gets in reasonable shape, they enjoy endorphins—sometimes a bit too much. These hormones give us an enhanced feeling of well-being. Many runners push too hard for too long before the body is ready. By following the principles below and treating the occasional muscle overuse with a Human Touch massage, most runners can probably keep going until they are 100 years old.

Walk before you get tired

Most of us, even when untrained, can walk for several miles before fatigue sets in, because walking is an activity that we are bio-engineered to do for hours. Running is more work, because you have to lift your body off the ground and then absorb the shock of the landing, over and over. This is why the continuous use of the running muscles will produce fatigue, aches and pains much more quickly. If you insert a walk break into a run before your running muscles start to get tired, you allow the muscle to recover instantly—increasing your capacity for exercise while reducing the chance of next-day soreness.

The “method” part involves having a strategy. By using a ratio of running and walking, listed below, you will manage your fatigue. Using this fatigue-reduction tool early will save muscle resources and bestow the mental confidence to cope with any challenges that may come later. Even when you don’t need the extra muscle strength and resiliency bestowed by the method, you will feel better during and after your run, and finish knowing that you could have gone further.

The beginner will mainly walk at first. By inserting short segments of running, followed by longer walk breaks, the muscles adapt to running, without getting overwhelmed. As a beginner improves his or her running ability and conditioning, they will reach a point where they can set the ratio of running and walking -  for that day.

The run-walk method is very simple: you run for a short segment and then take a walk break, and keep repeating this pattern.”

To take control over fatigue in advance, walk breaks allow you to enjoy every run. By taking them early and often you can feel strong, even after a run that is very long for you. Beginners will alternate very short run segments with short walks. Even elite runners find that walk breaks on long runs allow them to recover faster. There is no need to reach the end of a run, feeling exhausted—if you insert enough walk breaks, for you, on that day.

Walk Breaks…

  • Give you control over your level of fatigue
  • erase fatigue
  • push back your tiredness “wall”
  • allow for endorphins to collect during each walk break—you feel good!
  • break up the distance into manageable units. (“one more minute until a walk break”)
  • speed recovery
  • reduce the chance of aches, pains and injury
  • allow you to feel good afterward—doing what you need to do without debilitating fatigue
  • give you all of the endurance of the distance of each session—without the pain
  • allow older runners to recover fast, and feel as good or better than the younger days

A short and gentle walking stride

It’s better to walk slowly, with a short stride. There has been some irritation of the shins, when runners or walkers maintain a stride that is too long.

No need to ever eliminate the walk breaks

Some beginners assume that they must work toward the day when they don’t have to take any walk breaks at all. This is up to the individual, but is not recommended. Remember that you decide what ratio of run-walk-run to use. There is no rule that requires you to run any ratio of run-walk on any given day. I suggest that you adjust the ratio to how you feel.

I’ve run for over 50 years and enjoy running more than ever because of walk breaks. Each run I take energizes my day. I would not be able to run almost every day if I didn’t insert the walk breaks early and often. I start most runs taking a short walk break every minute.

How to keep track of the walk breaks

There is now a timer that beeps and/or vibrates at any interval ($20). Check our website ( or a good running store for advice in this area.

How to use walk breaks

  1. Start by running for 5-10 seconds, and walking 1-2 minutes
  2. If you feel good during and after the run, continue with this ratio. If not, run less until you feel good.
  3. After 3-6 sessions at the ratio, add 5-10 seconds of running, maintaining the same amount of walking
  4. When you can run for 30 seconds, gradually reduce the walking time to 30 seconds, every 3-6 sessions
  5. When 30 seconds/30 seconds feels too easy, gradually increase the running time, 5-10 sec every 3-6 sessions
  6. On any given day, when you need more walking, do it. Don’t ever be afraid to drop back to make the run more fun, and less tiring.
  7. And if you pushed a bit too far on a given run, before walking, spend a little time in your human touch massage chair.

Note: For more information, see Jeff’s books, such as GETTING STARTED, A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO WALKING & A WOMAN’S GUIDE TO FAT-BURNING, MARATHON, etc at

Note: Olympian Jeff Galloway uses Human Touch massage chair and has coached over a million runners through his running schools, beach and Tahoe retreats, books and training programs—which are fun and offer individualized coaching from Jeff. Subscribe to his free newsletter and blog at