Galloway Method: The Run-Walk-Run Plan That Does Wonders

Jeff Galloway Run-Walk-Run method

Whether you’re training for your very first marathon or gunning for a new PR, walking could be the secret to your best race yet.

It may sound counterintuitive, but run-walk training has been shown to help runners reduce injury and improve speed.

The Galloway Method is a run-walk-run plan that can do wonders for your race times and recovery.

What is the Galloway Method?

Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run Method is a running strategy that consists of a short warmup followed by set periods of alternating run-walk intervals. You can adjust the walking and running times to suit your goals and abilities.

Here’s an example of what this might look like:

  1. Warm-up
  2. Run 3 minutes
  3. Walk 30 seconds
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 until done
  5. Cooldown

Don’t let its simplicity fool you – this technique can lead to significant results.

Who Is Jeff Galloway?

Jeff Galloway book cover

Jeff Galloway is the founder of the Run-Walk-Run method.

He is a former U.S. Olympic athlete with more than 50 years of running experience. Jeff competed in the 10,000 meters in the 1972 Olympics and was an alternate for the marathon team.

Today, Jeff is also a world-renowned author, speaker, and coach.

The History of the Galloway Method

Jeff Galloway developed his run-walk-run technique in 1974 as a way to introduce running to a new audience.

As a running store owner, Galloway wanted to gain more customers while sharing his love for the sport.

To do this, he created a training plan to help beginning runners build up distance gradually.

female beginner athlete walking

Galloway’s run-walk training method allowed his athletes to successfully train for their first 5K or 10K without injury. A few years later, in 1978, Galloway started run-walk marathon training for his races.

Since then, it has been a time-tested method for experienced runners and beginners alike who want to increase distance and avoid injury.

Finding the Right Walk Interval

Galloway’s early walk breaks were always one minute, while the running intervals varied—usually from two minutes to one mile.

After an experiment in 2014, he found that his athletes preferred 30-second walking periods.

Galloway’s later walk breaks were shortened to 30 or even 15 seconds based on this feedback.

Today, he recommends experimenting to find the run-walk intervals that work for you.

How Does the Galloway Method Work?

Jeff Galloway training plan

As you might imagine, a run-walk method training program allows you to complete longer runs with less wear and tear on your body.

This can be especially important for new runners and beginning marathoners, who may get injured by increasing their distance quickly.

Additionally, athletes chasing personal bests or training for goal races can be susceptible to overtraining and injuries. Improved recovery can be critical to their success.

Study Shows Reduced Muscle Fatigue from Run-Walk Strategy

senior athlete jogging

Run-walk intervals have been shown to allow runners to finish a marathon with less muscle fatigue than those who ran it continuously.

A 2014 study in the Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport (JSAMS) (1) compared the race results of marathoners who used a run-walk strategy with those who ran continuously.

The run-walk subjects took a 60-second walk break approximately every 1.5 miles for the entire race.

Both groups had similar finish times: the run-only athletes finished in an average of 4:07, and the run-walk group averaged a 4:14 marathon.

The biggest benefit was in the level of fatigue and muscle pain reported by the study participants.

Less than 5 percent of the run-walk athletes said they felt “extreme exhaustion,” compared with more than 40 percent of the run-only group.

What Does This Mean For You?

couple of sport people coaching each other

Increase Distance Gradually

A run-walk training program can make it easier to reach a new distance with less risk of injuries.

The run-walk method also allows beginning runners to increase their exercise time manageable.

So, a new runner who would typically spend 15-20 minutes running can incorporate walking to exercise for 30 minutes or more. This helps improve their fitness while reducing injury risk.

Built-In Recovery Periods

Walk breaks give your body time to recover and adapt. Keep in mind that the walk breaks aren’t leisurely strolls. Walk at a deliberate pace to keep your heart rate up.

woman running up stairs in shorts

Better Pacing

Veteran runners can use the Galloway Method to help them maintain pace throughout a race while their competitors fade at the end.

Using run-walk marathon training, back-of-the-pack and mid-pack runners may find it easier to hit their training pace accurately.

Why is this important? An elite runner will complete their long run-up to a minute slower per mile than marathon race pace. On the other hand, beginners and mid-level athletes often run just as hard in training as they do in races.

pack of participants at a race

Improved Recovery

It’s no secret that training for a marathon or half marathon is taxing on the body and mind.

A run-walk training plan can also significantly speed recovery after long runs by reducing muscle fatigue.

The run-walk method also allows you to get a bit of mental and physical recovery while you’re training.

As a result, you may find that you actually enjoy your long runs.

Can Walk Breaks Really Make Me Faster?

couple of senior athletes training following the Galloway Method

Incorporating walking into your training and racing strategy could help an average runner get faster over time.

Walking can help you avoid injury and reduce muscle fatigue, which allows you to go faster on your running intervals.

In Galloway’s case, walk breaks helped him achieve a personal record marathon time. He ran the 1980 Houston Marathon in 2:16:35 while taking walking breaks every mile.

Benefits of Taking Walk Breaks

Hesitant to give this strategy a try? Here’s how taking walk breaks can help you run faster:

  • Eliminate overuse muscle breakdown
  • Reduce muscle fatigue
  • Recover fast from long runs
  • Less post-run soreness
  • Run faster
  • Less impact on your body
  • Improve endurance
  • Get a mental boost on tough runs or long distances

Who is the Galloway Method For?

elite athletes marathon training

The beauty of Jeff Galloway’s method is that it works for both veteran marathoners and brand new runners.

The strategy’s goal is to help increase speed and endurance while avoiding injury.

Anyone looking for a conservative half marathon or marathon training plan can use it.

  • Beginning runners
  • Marathon runners
  • Half-marathon runners
  • Triathletes
  • Anyone susceptible to running injuries
  • Runners wanting to get faster
  • Someone recovering from a running injury

Consider a Run-Walk Plan if You Want To:

  • Build endurance
  • Reduce injury
  • Lose weight
  • Improve cardiovascular fitness
  • Increase running time
  • Manage your pace
  • Safely train for a new distance

Even “Real Runners” Take Walk Breaks

women athletes taking a break

There’s a stigma around the idea of walk breaks for many runners. But the truth is, any amount of running makes you a runner.

Consider this: You could walk because you’re exhausted, or you could take planned walk breaks and finish strong.

A run-walk marathon training plan could help you complete a higher mileage training week with less fatigue.

That means more time to spend with family or doing activities you enjoy instead of snoozing on the couch after a long run.

couple of young people running in autumn

Additionally, many runners struggle with pacing. They often go out too hard at the beginning of a race and then gradually complete each mile slower than the last.

A run-walk strategy can help you maintain a more consistent pace throughout the entire event. This is especially important if you have a time goal.

The positive results speak for themselves. For example, Jeff Galloway himself has reportedly finished more than 200 marathons without injuries since 1978 using his run-walk-run method.

How to Incorporate this Type of Training into Your Plan

parents running with a stroller

Ready to give the Galloway run-walk method a try? Even if you’re new to running, you can quickly implement this technique.

If you’re working to build endurance, dividing your long runs into regular periods of walking and running is an excellent place to start.

For training plans that include interval training, use walk breaks to recover between repeats.

You don’t have to use the walk-run method every time you go running. Just try it out on one run a week, for starters.

How to Find Your Ideal Run-Walk Ratio

Beginners could start with shorter running intervals and longer walking breaks. For example, 30 seconds of running with 90 seconds of walking. If that’s too much, cut the running back to 15 seconds.

Try extending them once you’ve reached the point where your running intervals feel easier. Or make the walk break shorter.

More experienced runners may want to consider short walking intervals that will allow them to run fast for their entire workout or race. For many people, 30 seconds is a good place to start.

Tip: Listen to Your Breathing

Proper pacing is essential on long runs to avoid excessive fatigue.

Galloway recommends the “huff and puff” rule to guide your walk-run ratio.

Focus on the sound of your breath during your run: when your breathing gets heavy and sounds like huffing and puffing, slow down and take walk breaks more frequently.

The goal is to keep your pace and effort at a level where you’re not breathing hard. Many training plans refer to this as a “conversational pace.”

The Magic Mile

man running in a park speeding up

Another key component of the Galloway run-walk method is the Magic Mile. It’s a one-mile time trial that you can use to determine your goal pace and run-walk ratios.

This can be helpful for anyone beginning running who isn’t sure how fast they should be running.

How to Use the Magic Mile

This process will help you determine your expected race pace when you’ve trained appropriately, and temperatures are below 60°F.

Note: This is intended only as a guide. Adjust your pace and take more frequent walk breaks if the weather is warm on race day.

1. Warm-Up

Run one mile at a slow, easy pace.

2. Do Some Strides to Finish Warming Up

Try to do the same number every time you perform the test.

3. Run One Mile at a Hard Effort

This should be at a pace you can focus on and maintain for the entire mile.

4. Find Your Race Pace

Enter your time into Galloway’s Magic Mile calculator to find your target race pace and run-walk ratio.

The Bottom Line: Find the Run Strategy That Works for You

woman running with a mask following the Galloway Method

Use the principles Jeff Galloway has developed and experiment until you find the ratio that works for you.

Look for a comfortable balance that allows you to complete the distance efficiently without feeling extreme fatigue.

Get Started Today

There’s no better time than the present. Incorporate the run-walk-run method into your training this week.

Have You Tried The Galloway Method?

We’d love to hear how taking walk breaks has impacted your running. Share your experience in the comments.

References

Does a run/walk strategy decrease cardiac stress during a marathon in non-elite runners?
Hottenrott et al. (2016). Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport.
https://www.jsams.org/article/S1440-2440%2814%2900218-7/fulltext

The Run Walk Run Method (2016), Jeff Galloway, Meyer & Meyer Sport, ISBN 978-1782550822

Jeff Galloway’s Official

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