I ran my first half marathon (and first race of any kind) in 2010. I definitely knew that I needed to train but I didn't know where to start. I ended up finding a 16 week training plan online that told me what days to run and how many miles to run on those days. I went in to training not really knowing what I was doing. I would try to run as far and as fast as I could, for as long as I could, and then I would walk until my breathing slowed back down to normal and I would start to run again. As the training miles got longer my walk breaks got longer. I was so tired by the end of each run and would never be able to keep running until the end. On race day I finished the half marathon but I ended up waking the last 3 miles and I was so sore and so tired for about a week afterwards.
I completed several more half marathons in the same fashion until one day I decided I was going to give interval running a try. I had began to notice people around me during a race with their watches beeping, putting their hands in the air signaling that they're slowing down to walk. I went back to google and did a little research and decided that I was going to give the Galloway method a try.
Jeff Galloway is an Olympian, author and creator of the Run Walk Run method. According to Jeff, the principles behind Run Walk Run are:
• Continuous use of a muscle will result in quicker fatigue
• The longer the run segment, the more fatigue
• Run Walk Run is a form of interval training
• Conservation of resources
• Quicker recovery
• Less stress on the “weak links”
• Ability to enjoy endorphins
• Reduce core body temperature
• Speed you up: an average of 7 minutes faster in a 13.1 mile race when non-stop runners
shift to the correct Run Walk Run ratio – and more than 13 minutes faster in the marathon
• Give you control over the way you feel during and after
• Erase fatigue
• Push back your wall of exhaustion or soreness
• Allow for endorphins to collect during each walk break
• Break up the distance into manageable units
• Speed recovery
• Reduce the chance of aches, pains and injury
• Allow older or heavier runners to recover fast, and feel as good as in the younger (slimmer) days
• Activate the frontal lobe – maintaining your control over attitude and motivation
It took me several training runs to find an interval that worked good for me. I've tried 2:1, 1:1, 30:30 but recently have settled into running 1 minute and walking 30 seconds. At first it seemed a little odd to take a walk break after only 1 minute of running but the Run Walk Run method works best if you follow it from the start.
I recently ran my first marathon and by running my intervals and taking my walk breaks I was able to finish strong and keep running for the whole 26.2 miles with minimal soreness afterwards. I've seen my overall pace begin to improve as well.
Overall, running intervals has made running more enjoyable for me. I'm gradually getting faster but never feel like I'm overdoing it or putting myself in a position to get injured.