Run / Walk Method for Better Race Times

Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks during a run according to world-class athlete, Jeff Galloway. I have personally seen many clients improve their run times 5-30 minutes using the walk / run method.

How do walk breaks work?

  • Shifting back and forth between walking and running muscles distributes the workload and uses a variety of muscles helping to increase your overall performance capacity.
  • Walk breaks speed up recovery because there is less damage to repair.
  • Early walk breaks erase fatigue, and the later walk breaks will reduce or eliminate overuse muscle breakdown.
  • Walk breaks can provide a sense of relief in knowing that a recovery is never too far away, making the run easier to endure.
  • Walking lowers energy demands, allowing the body to better clear metabolic waste which can cause a muscle burning sensation.

Recommended Run to Walk Ratios

The run / walk ratio should correspond to your training pace:

Min/Mile Training Pace

Run time

Walk time

8 min/mi

4 min

30 – 40 sec

9 min/mi

4 min

1 min

10 min/mi

3 min

1 min

11 min/mi

2:30 min

1 min

12 min/mi

2 min

1 min

13 min/mi

1 min

1 min

14 min/mi

30 sec

30 sec

15 min/mi

30 sec

45 sec

16 min/mi

30 sec

60 sec

Tips with using the run/walk system

  • Remember that long runs should be run at least 2 min/mi slower than your projected race pace. (Find your race pace here..)
  • Further slow your pace for increased temperatures: Slow an additional 30 sec / mile for each 5 degrees of temperature increase above 60F.
  • The earlier you take the walk breaks, the more they help you, start the walk breaks before you feel any fatigue, in the first mile. Remember that it’s always safer to walk more often.
  • Don’t get too rigidly locked into a specific ratio of walk breaks, adjust as needed. You’ll find the need to vary walk break to adjust for speed, hills, heat, humidity, time off from training, etc.
  • If you can complete your long run with a consistent pace, without getting overly fatigue near the end of the run; the run/walk method may not be for you.

*Adapted from the website “Run Injury Free” by Jeff Galloway

Suggestion: Train with a heart rate monitor. Use your heart rate to adjust run/walk ratios. Adjust your intensity to perform within your target heart rate until you’re close enough to finish the race with vigorous intensity. (Find your target heart here..)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *