Tuesday, 26 February 2019

Galloway run:walk method

Over the last couple of years, every time I've tried to run longer than 5 miles, I've ended up injured, however carefully I've tried to take it and however gradually I've built up the mileage. But, I still want to run a marathon before I'm 50, so being able to stay injury free over much longer runs than 5 miles is needed!

I turn 50 next year. 😳

I was talking to one of my running friends the other day and telling her that I'd got up to 5 miles as my long run, but that I was worried that my Achilles would inevitably flare up again. She suggested the Galloway method and said that she uses it for any distance above half-marathon (I should point out here that she runs marathons and ultras and barely thinks twice about a 20-mile run!)

I knew nothing about what the Galloway method involved, so Googled it. The method is named after Jeff Galloway, and there's a wealth of information on his website, http://www.jeffgalloway.com/

Essentially, the idea is that you intersperse short periods of walking into your runs. How much you run to how much you walk is essentially up to you, but there is a guide that suggests ratios, based on how fast you could run a fast mile (the "magic mile").

I haven't run a hard mile for a while, but tried to work out roughly what it would be, based on what I'm currently running as a tempo pace and what I've run a hard mile in before. To be honest, it's also a weird thing to me to think about walking during a run - it's been so ingrained in me that if you need to walk, you're running too fast, and that walking is a failure somehow - and so I possibly chose a higher run: walk ratio than my pace would suggest. I decided to try an 8:1 pattern (4 minute run: 30 seconds walk).

I've only run using this method a couple of times - a four-miler (pavements) and a five-and-a-half-miler (pavements/trail run).

The four-miler was great (once I got over myself and the 'needing to walk'). My legs still felt fresh when I got back, and my overall pace wasn't really much slower than a regular tempo run. It was perhaps partway between tempo pace and long-run pace, by dint of the running sections being run at a better pace than I normally manage for tempo! I was certainly maintaining a consistent (and consistently faster) pace over all of the running sections. It still felt odd to suddenly start walking when a few moments ago, I was running freely, but the idea is to walk well before you need to walk, to reduce injury.

The five-and-a-half-miler, I ran with my hubby. This is almost never a good idea because I run faster than him, but we thought we'd give it a whirl... It actually worked out okay, because we essentially didn't actually run together! I ran the Galloway method and pulled away from him in the run sections; then on my walk sections, he passed me. It worked, but maybe not all that sociable...

So why does the run:walk system help? The post here (from Jeff Galloway's site) explains it well, but in essence, fatigued muscles are more prone to injury (poor stabilisation of joints if one set of muscles is tired), and continuous running makes muscles more fatigued. Taking walk-breaks allows the muscles to fend off fatigue.

It's a bit of a mind-shift for me. It's fairly ingrained in me that walking means you've failed at running (😒) but my long-term goal is to keep running longer distances and stay injury-free and if run-walk-run will help me achieve both of those things, then it can't be bad!

I'll keep you posted as to how I go with it all.

Anyone else out there use this method? How do you find it?

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