What is the Run-Walk Method All About?

The run-walk method is exactly what it sounds like. It’s a mix of running and walking.

A run-walk method is a specialized form of interval training targeted to help chubby people start running or get through a marathon training schedule. The exercise allows for strategically timed walk breaks between running. The following helps runners:

  • Lower risk of serious injuries
  • Manage fatigue 
  • Build endurance
  • Prolong the training experience

There are many different aspects of this method of training to consider.

This includes background on the method itself, how to start training, the right mix of a run-to-walk ratio, and its impact on experts and novices alike. Let’s dive in.

Where did the run-walk method come from?

Who started this whole run-walk method of interval training?

It all began in the early 1970s, when a U.S. Olympic runner named Jeff Galloway, invented the run-walk-run method. As a running coach, he intended to use this method to help new, inexperienced, and chubby runners enjoy the sport and training of running.

How does the run-walk method work?

The best part of this method is its level of customization and personalization.

The strategy is one that will allow you to implement the running-to-walk ratio to optimize running time, regardless of your skill or ability level. This method is not just a form of interval training, but a way to help you reduce fatigue when training.

By giving yourself walk breaks periodically throughout your run, you can extend the total running time. Over time, you’ll build endurance. This will cause your walk periods to shorten and your running periods to be longer.  

Is walking really necessary?

“If I’m trying to run a marathon, shouldn’t I train by running the whole time?” 
-Said every new runner ever

This is a common question many newer chubby runners ask. Why is it so important to mix your running with a few minutes of walking? It’s probably important to define what “walking” is.

What is walking?

Walking defined:

To move at a regular pace by lifting and setting down each foot in turn, see also stroll, saunter, mosey, promenade, etc. 

Yeah. Not that.

This is not the kind of running employed in the run-walk method. This kind of walking is fast-paced movement. Think of it more as running or jogging slowly. It’s more like a run than a walk in the traditional sense. This will prepare your system to get ready for the activity of running.

According to Jeff Galloway, most people can walk for long periods before they get tired. Whereas running, can be a physical jolt to the system due to the following areas: 

  • Lift – the act of springing each step lifting the body off the ground
  • Cushion – the ability of the foot to absorb impact upon landing
  • Coordination – how other parts of the body, like hands and arms, function during a run

Each of these areas can wear you down quickly if you’re just getting into running.

How to integrate the run-walk method

Let’s bring it all together now. 

Walking time is a time for recovery from the physical strain and constant pounding of running. It gets easier over time. This is exactly what the run-walk method was designed for.

Listen to your body

Coach Galloway advises runners to understand when their body begins to show signs of fatigue. This is really up to you and how in tune you are with your body. Does fatigue start to set in after 5 minutes? 10? 15?

Overcome fatigue with the run-walk method 

Once you know when fatigue is catching up to you, the coach suggests you begin walking just before fatigue hits you. Preempting your fatigue like this ensures you don’t waste your walking time trying to catch your breath. It allows you to focus on controlling your breathing and regulating your pace.

Can beginners use the run-walk method?

Even if you’re completely new to running, the run-walk method can work for you.

The best way is to start jogging for 15-20 seconds. Then walk for two to three minutes. Continue this run-to-walk balance until you can bump up your jogging/running time. Slowly add time to your running after every 5 to 8 run-walk rounds, but without increasing your walking time.

Increase running time slowly

This is a gradual process, so increase running time slowly.

When you can comfortably run for about 30 seconds, slowly reduce your walking time by 10 seconds, then 20 seconds, and then by 30 seconds. Keep in mind you shouldn’t do all of this in just one day. Remember to pace yourself and increase your run to walk ratio over a few days. Whatever feels best for you.

The best run walk ratio

The best ratio of running to walking is based on you. 

It all depends on the individual, skill level, overall fitness level, and experience running. But we’ve got you covered, from beginner to more experienced, everyone can employ this method to improve their training and running lifestyle.

The beginner run-walk method

Those that are just starting out, will have a learning curve, both physically and mentally. 

As you do a personal assessment of your skill level and stamina, you’ll learn about your own physical and mental state. It’s kind of exciting to start new and have a ton of possibilities and goals to strive for. Here’s a good way to get started:

  • Run for 20- 30 seconds and then walk for 1-2 minutes.

Intermediate runners

These are the middle kids. 

Not quite advanced and definitely not a beginner, the intermediate runner may have a little more self-exploration to find their optimal ratio.

Test your running

For in-betweeners, a good ratio to start with is called the four-eight. 

Here’s how it works:

  • Run for 4 minutes then walk for 8 minutes.

A good example would be running for 2 minutes followed by walking for 4 minutes – and then repeating that cadence. Using this method, you can slowly change your running time, without decreasing your walk time.

Take it up a notch

When you feel like you can run without collapsing, start reducing your walking time, to 30 seconds at a time. Like this:

  • Start to raise your running minutes in 30-second increments
  • Decrease your walking time in 30-second increments

Always remember, that the way you change up your run-walk intervals is based on your individual goals. 

More advanced run walk method

For running veterans a lot of this information you already know.

Since you have a good handle on your running constitution, you are ready for a higher running time, followed by a shorter walk time. You may not even need any guidance because you’ve already figured it out. That’s great.

Final thoughts on the run-walk method

The run-walk method is a specialized interval training to help people of all skill and ability levels take their running to the next level. The strategically timed walk breaks between running can help any runner achieve their running goals. If you haven’t tried incorporating walk breaks into your running plan, give it a try today.