The Awesomeness of the Run/Walk Plan

One of the things I love about the sport of running is that there is a place for every one.  There is no rule that says you have to run a certain pace, distance, or amount of time to be considered a runner.  In fact, one of my past fave posts is a great reminder that as long as you get out the door and run, you are a runner.

No other sport that I can think of really embraces all levels, ages, and abilities like running.  Races have a spot for everyone and there are different types of events to fit the needs of just about any type of runner.  There are qualifying races and Boston for those who are looking for a more competitive event.  Most races acknowledge the top three overall as well as age group placers.  But many races also hand out medals to acknowledge all finishers.  There are also fun events like color runs and costumed races that have a nice recreational vibe.Regret2

Since this sport embraces just about everyone, it is also great to embrace different goals.  One of my favorite ways to get new runners involved in the sport is to use the run/walk method.  This approach has been made popular by coaches like Jeff Galloway who is known to lead run/walk groups at Disney races and other events.

What I love most about run/walk plans is that you can make it as structured or unstructured as you desire.  For the very beginner it is a perfect starting point to get a few minutes (or even just one) of running in and then allow your body some recovery time as you walk.  For the runner who is trying to improve their pace or distance, this is a great way to set interval goals and over time increase the running time and decrease walking breaks.

Either way, this is a wonderful concept that allows any athlete to approach the sport in a far less overwhelming direction.  Breaking a run up into sections of running and walking allows you to look at parts of the whole as opposed to attacking a workout as one giant run.

I have many athletes who use the run/walk plan as their everyday approach to running.  They prefer to stick to planned out intervals such as 5 minutes of running followed by a 1-2 minute walk break.  Many of them have done multiple full and half marathons this way and have found great success.  Some choose to use this approach because they just plain prefer this method.  Others do it because they have various health issues and this allows their body to handle longer runs better.

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The other great part of this plan is that it can be a way to continue training during injuries.  Sometimes our bodies need a break but our training doesn’t completely allow for a full rest.  Under certain circumstances this approach can allow your body to handle distances better and also take some of the impact off of your muscles and joints.  I also like to use this when an athlete has had to take a few weeks off during a training session and is looking to get back on plan.  It is a fantastic way to come back into their training without pushing the body too hard.  When they just need the time on their feet and to fit in the mileage, this is a great way to ease back into training.

If you are interested in getting started with a running plan, I highly recommend taking a look online and doing some research on run/walk plans.  Take a look at Jeff Galloway’s website which is a great resource.  Runner’s World also has a fantastic 8 week Beginner’s Run/Walk Plan .  Both of these are great options and I am certain you can find many more with a quick search on the internet.

Do you use the run/walk method?  What is your preferred approach?

25 thoughts on “The Awesomeness of the Run/Walk Plan

  1. I totally had planned to write a run/walk post this week. DAMN YOU FOR STEALING MY THUNDER. I can personally say that I am in FULL support of the run/walk plan–it got me back from my stress reaction, and I currently train so many incredible athletes with this plan!

    • Great minds girl! Still do your post. I would love to read your thoughts on it. Having worked with charity runners and new runners a lot in the last two years, it has really proved to me that this is a great approach that all of us coaches need to support.

  2. Awesome post. Definitely something interesting to think about. I always walk through every aid station after mile 15 in marathons and I feel like it gives my legs the slight break it needs and my body the ability to actually refuel properly.

  3. I didn’t know this was an actual method until a few weeks ago, but it’s how I finished my first half! For me, it’s just how I do. If I’m allowed to take a break every few minutes, then I can run 13 miles woohoo!

  4. I personally don’t use the run walk method, but if I were starting from scratch or coming back from an injury, I would. I have a friend who trains for half marathons using this method and breaks 2 hours consistently. It is very successful, and so awesome that you advocate this! I think it makes running so much more accessible to everyone…and like you said, there is a place for everyone in running ❤

    • There really is a place for everyone in this sport. I have a friend who gets so frustrated because she runs a consistent pace and the run/walkers keep passing her. It really can be a great way to get the job done and have a great pace. Sub 2 hours is awesome!

  5. I started running doing walk/runs. I was > 208lbs and my knees couldn’t handle running so I walked and soon I found I could walk and run short distances, then longer distance soon I was running full on 3miles then I learned how to run mid-foot and all bets were off I now run at home but still walk around the buildings at work. Run / walks are the best!

    • What an awesome and inspiring story! This goes to show that it really can work and helps to make the sport truly accessible for those who want to try and get started. Congrats to you!

  6. I started with a run walk plan after really struggling to get running but now, once I stop on a run I seem to struggle like mad. Maybe I’d just need to get used to it again.

    • There is no reason why you have to go back to run/walk if you now consistently run. That is the nice part of this all. We can continually graduate onto new things. But it is also always great to know that it is there to fall back on if we need it.

  7. I’m training for my first marathon, and I decided to try a run/walk plan, mostly because I was a little intimidated by the insane number of miles I’d have to run in training. On June I ran a 10K with a 4min run/1 minute walk, and I PR’d and won my age group. I’ve tried other intervals for my longer runs and I’ve found that a 90 sec run/30 sec walk works well for me. The best part is that I’m not completely spent for the rest of the day.

    • Congratulations! That is absolutely fantastic. Congrats on the age group win and for tackling the marathon. It can be very difficult but I think you will find it is an incredible process and very rewarding. Best of luck!

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