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Gyms Closed - No Worries - Learn to Use the Walk Run Method

Full disclosure, I was a couch potato all of my life. When I turned 48, I knew I had to change. I had gained weight (or never lost it from having two babies) and I was totally out of shape. My exercise was going to the wine cellar and opening up a bottle of a nice California red blend. After driving on the Wantagh Parkway on Long Island and seeing so many people running, I knew I needed a change. 

Since then, I have completed dozens of half marathons and the NYC marathon. I have also competed in tons of triathlons – both Olympic and Sprint triathlons. Before the pandemic, I was even preparing to swim my first open water marathon, a 5-mile swim in the Cross Bay. 


Preparing for the NYC Marathon

When I got accepted via the lottery to the NYC Marathon, I was thrilled. I always wanted to do this race, but didn’t know where to start. I had hired virtual trainers in the past but it didn’t work out quite how I imagined it would. Since I knew Jeff Galloway from interviewing him on my podcasts and quoting him on my blogs, he offered to train me for the NYC Marathon. How could life get any better?

I was amazed at how quickly I adapted to the walk/run method. In the past, I would walk through the water stops and then run as much as I could until I couldn’t, then I would walk a little. The truth is, whatever I did before I met Jeff, didn’t work. 

Jeff taught me the right way to use the method and I ran the marathon, finished and felt amazing after it. I even went out to dinner with my family to celebrate afterwards. I felt great.

After that, I became a Galloway program director and have been teaching the method for the last four years.



So how do you use the run/walk method?

Most of Jeff’s books are outdated. He used to recommend a 1-minute break in-between. That is no longer recommended. 

As a matter of fact, with my faster runners, I recommend a 15-second rest. Before I tell you about the method, I want to say that I have runners who run a 7-minute mile and runners who run a 16-minute mile. The method works for fast, slow and everything in between.



If you’ve never used the method, here’s how to start:

If you are a newbie and have never run before, start out by walking. Try to walk at least three times during the week. For two days, walk for 30 minutes. For your long walk do it on a weekend and try to go out 3 miles. You can do it!

On week three, try to add intervals to your walk. Run for 5 seconds, then walk for 30 seconds and repeat. Do this on your long run as well.

At some point, maybe after a month or two, up the intervals. See how it feels. Many of my new runners start with a 5 second run/25 second walk. Some shorten the walk, others increase the runtime to 7 seconds or 10 seconds. At some point, you will know what is working for you.

One thing I must quickly add in here is that when you run the 5 seconds, run it. Don’t jog it!

I had two new runners run the Bronx 10 Miler. They were running an average pace of around 14 minutes a mile and running an 8 second run/25 second walk. Two other runners who also use the Galloway method ran 90 second run/30 second walk. These runners laughed at my runners saying that the 8/25 was ridiculous. To make a long story short, my runners beat these two girls by more than 20 minutes!

You really need to know your ratio in order to nail the method.


collage of woman standing together outdoors in running gear


What about for someone who is an advanced runner?

For someone who has some running background, run two days a week for 30 - 45 minutes. On the weekend, start your long run with a five-mile run.

During the week, make sure to do track workouts and hill repeats to increase your speed and endurance. Also, don’t forget about strength training! I also recommend cross-training to my experienced runners, like cycling and/or swimming. Both help with the run!

On the long run on the weekends, go out slower than you normally would at a race. You are building endurance on these runs. One of my runners uses a 15 second run/30 second walk for his intervals on the weekend. He continuously nails a pace of 11-minute miles. 

I have other runners who are a little faster. They use a 2 minutes run/15 second walk method. One runner was just running. When we started to experiment with the method, she ran the same 9-minute mile pace on the 2/15 as she did on the 90/15. When we increased her time to 3 minutes run/15 second walk, her pace decreased. 



One thing that’s important

Jeff Galloway has a chart on his site that tells you the pace you should be using. You may want to run a 7-minute mile but you are running a 9-minute mile. Don’t go by what he says for the 7-minute mile pace because it won’t work. Believe me, I tried it. 

You don’t need to run longer to run faster! As a matter of fact, you will run faster if you have shorter intervals. 

The best bet is to experiment and see what works for you. I can run a 30 second run/15 second walk and run that at a 13-minute mile pace and I can also run it at a 11-minute mile pace. The key here is consistency and when it’s time to run, RUN!

The run/walk interval method is 1) easier to do when you get started, 2) better for you as you get older, 3) prevents injuries when done right. 

I hope this helps! Happy running!



Woman crossing the finish line during a marathon


Hilary JM Topper is a Running Coach and a certified USA Triathlon Coach Level I. She is also a blogger at ATriathletesDiary.com, where she writes about new products, race reviews and personal experiences. She also has NYLifestyleBlog.com, which talks about her NY Life. In addition, she hosts a podcast, HilaryTopperonAir.com, a small business podcast to help people grow professionally and personally (of course talking about running and triathlons) which she has recorded since 2011. She is also the CEO of HJMTPR and author of the new book, Branding in a Digital World, available at hjmt.com or Amazon.com.