One of the biggest challenges for new runners is the ability and self-confidence to go out and run for long periods of time.
Let’s face it: running can be hard. After enough time, your lungs burn, your legs burn…wouldn’t everything be better if you could just take a quick walking break? Then the doubt creeps in: No! You’re running! No Breaks Allowed! Good runners never take breaks, right? Right?!
Well…wrong. There is a popular, effective, and successful method that uses planned walking intervals during your runs to allow your body to recover. If you’re just getting into running or you’re interested in changing up your running routine, you might be interested in trying the Galloway run/walk method. Naysayers may say it sounds like the easy way out. But for many people, it actually allows them to run farther. And, perhaps counter-intuitively, faster.
There is a clear method to Galloway’s training program, and it’s not just walking whenever you feel like it. It’s alternating walking and running so that you don’t fatigue as quickly, and feel stronger at the end of your run.
By the end of this article, you’ll have everything that you need to know about the Galloway run/walk method and whether it’s right for you. Let’s get started!
What is the Galloway run/walk method?
The Galloway run/walk method is very simple. Run for a little bit. Walk for a little bit. Repeat. The designated amount of time you run is based on the pace you want to achieve. The short walking breaks allow your body to rest and recover.
The Galloway method is very popular with beginners, because it meets people where they’re at. When I trained for my first 5k, I used the Galloway method since I hadn’t ever run consistently before. It eased me into training, making it more likely that I would do it.
As you get better at running, you’ll spend more time running and less time walking, but you’ll always have at least a short break for walking even if you’re super advanced. In this way, the Galloway method can help with mental and physical fatigue, keeping you feeling strong at the end of a run.
Who is Jeff Galloway?
Lest you think that the Galloway method is for slow runners, Jeff Galloway is a 10,000m Olympian. In addition, he posted fast times in high school—a sub 4:30 mile!—and is still running today in his 70s.
According to his website, Galloway created his method in 1974 when he was training a group of students who had not been regular runners. In order to keep the injury rate low and to give them success, he established a “huff and puff” role: walk when you’re huffing and puffing.
At the end of the ten-week class, all of the students were able to run a 5k or 10k without any injuries and every single student finished! As he experimented over the next two years, he eventually came up with the Galloway Training Program.
Galloway discovered that adding walking breaks made it much less likely for individuals to be injured. Today, many people use the Galloway method in many different distances, including the marathon.
Why is the run/walk method effective?
Galloway lists a variety of principles and benefits on his website about his method, noting that the Galloway run/walk method helps to conserve resources and lead to quicker recovery.
Additionally, he observes that people who might find it challenging to get into running can enjoy this method because it provides all the benefits of running without any of the fatigue. If you’re interested, definitely read all of Galloway’s list. We specifically want to emphasize three advantages.
Allow for Built-in Rest
The run/walk method is actually a type of interval training, and anyone who has done intervals or mile repeats can tell you how effective they are. The walk breaks in the Galloway method allow for built-in rest, which increases your overall endurance and even your speed.
Because you know that you have a walk break coming up, it can be easier to push yourself physically because you feel more in control mentally. Additionally, you won’t be as fatigued using the run/walk method due to rest intervals, so it will make running more enjoyable.
Reduced Chance of Injury
As we noted above, Galloway originally designed his method to help non-runners specifically avoid injuries. This has been shown time and again over the years. You’re much less likely to suffer injuries using the run/walk method. Injuries often come from overuse, and that won’t happen with the Galloway method.
Because you’re not going to be as fatigued since you’re giving your body rest breaks during your run, you’ll recover more quickly. If you want to be able to do stuff after your long runs, you can because you shouldn’t feel tired.
A lot of people who are new to running or who are older like the Galloway method because it takes their bodies longer to recover than when they were younger, so it’s more enjoyable to run with the run/walk method.
Will I Run Slower and Take Longer to Finish with a Run/Walk?
The crazy thing is that most runners will actually run faster. You’re giving yourself rest periods, so you can push harder on your running interval. A walking interval is never more than a few minutes away.
When I ran my first 5k, I ran it without stopping, but I knew someone who used the Galloway method and finished way before me despite the walking breaks. If you can’t believe that’s true, try running a couple miles and then using Galloway’s method for the same distance and see if you’re faster.
If you’re still skeptical, check out these results: runners have qualified for the Boston Marathon using it. Others have run 2:50 (and faster!) marathons. Most Galloway runners say the improvements can be been almost immediately.
How to Find Your Pace and Run/Walk Intervals
If you’ve been struggling to recover from long runs or if they’ve been a struggle to complete, if you want an option for the hot weather in the summer, or if you’re just getting into running, the Galloway run/walk method can definitely meet your needs.
To use it, though, you need to figure out your magic mile. You do this by warming up with a slow one-mile run, do a few acceleration-gliders, and then push yourself as hard as possible for one mile.
Once you’ve figured out that mile time, add 33 seconds to get your 5k pace, multiply the time by 1.15 for a 10k pace, multiply by 1.2 for a half marathon pace, and multiply by 1.3 for a marathon pace. If you don’t want to do it yourself, you can use his magic mile calculator.
Now that you’ve figured out your ideal pace for whatever distance you’re going to run, you can check out his pace chart to know how long to run/walk for a particular pace:
Pace/mi Run Walk
- 7:00 6 min 30 sec (or run a mile/walk 40 seconds)
- 7:30 5 min 30 sec
- 8:00 4 min 30 sec (or 2/15)
- 8:30 3 min 30 sec (or 2/20)
- 9:00 2 min 30 sec or 80/20
- 9:30-10:45 90/30 or 60/20 or 45/15 or 60/30 or 40/20
- 10:45-12:15 60/30 or 40/20 or 30/15 or 30/30 or 20/20
- 12:15-14:30 30/30 or 20/20 or 15/15
- 14:30-15:45 15/30
- 15:45-17:00 10/30
- 17:00-18:30 8/30 or 5/25 or 10/30
- 18:30-20:00 5/30 or 5/25 or 4/30
Let’s say that you want to run a 13-minute mile. That would be a 1:1 ratio, meaning that you would run one minute and walk one minute, repeating for the duration of your run.
As you get faster, you can move from a 1:1 ratio up to other paces that would be faster, although you certainly don’t have to do the fastest pace on Galloway’s chart: 12:1.
If you have dreams of running a race, but think that you never could because it’s just too far to run, think again. The Galloway method has helped thousands of people become runners just by making it something pleasurable to do.
Remember that you need to take advantage of the walk breaks to get the full benefit from the Galloway method. You don’t need to speed walk; it is your rest time, so aim to walk more slowly.
Additionally, you don’t ever have to eliminate the walking breaks completely. They can help any runner, whether beginner or expert. With the Galloway method, you can keep running even as you get older.
Finally, remember that these are scheduled walk breaks. It isn’t any time you feel fatigued. If you feel like you’re running too much and need more walking breaks, either don’t run as hard during your run interval, or figure out a pace that is a little slower.
In the end, the Galloway method can help make running more enjoyable for people who didn’t think they could ever love running. It was a great transition for me as I trained for my first 5k, and it could be the same for you!