A Run-Walk-Run Strategy for Us Older Folks

run-walk-run method

(This post was updated on 4/13/19)

Run-walk-run? Isn’t that sort of like quitting?

I used to think if I didn’t run the whole way I had somehow copped out. Not anymore! Even though I stopped running a few years ago due to a few annoying little injuries, I used the run-walk-run method for about 3 years with great results.

I don’t know of anyone else who’s encouraged this method more than Jeff Galloway. He’s a former Olympic marathoner, now in his 70s and still running marathons. He’s worked with thousands of runners using the method he developed.

You can read his story and all about the Galloway Method on his own site. I’ll give you a brief overview, though, and tell you why I like it so much.

What is the Run-Walk-Run Method?

The run-walk-run method involves using a stop watch or other timing device to time alternating run-walk patterns. It’s as simple as that. It can be 5 minutes of running to 1 minute of walking, or 3 minutes to 1 minute, or really whatever works best for you.

The idea isn’t to wait until you’re tired to walk, but to follow regular intervals.

Why I Loved It

It Changed My Mindset

Changing my mindset to giving myself permission to walk more when I felt like crud was a game-changer.

I’m sure you’ve experienced that some days you feel great and other days you don’t. I stopped forcing myself to keep running just because I was on my run. If I felt awful or lackluster, I stopped to walk. Sometimes just for a minute or two, sometimes for the rest of the distance.

This especially made running on the hot, muggy summer days (which I’ve always hated) more enjoyable.

It was Easier on My Body

I never dealt with injuries until the last three years of my running “career”—which was when I discovered the Galloway Method. That was in my late 40s.

Using a run-walk-run method meant I could keep getting out there despite them. I adjusted my speed and walking time to how I’m felt each day. It worked well.

Mr. Galloway suggests the run-walk-run method for older runners (over 45 rings a bell) as a way to be able to keep running while avoiding injury.

It Makes the Distances more Doable

Instead of thinking “I’ve got 2 miles to go” I could think “I’ve only got 2 more minutes, then I get a walk break.” I didn’t always need that kind of pep talk. But when I did, it was sure handy!

Faster Recover after Long Runs

This was one of the things Jeff Galloway says that would make a bigger difference for me if I was still training for races. I ran my last half marathon in 2012, and haven’t since due to the aforementioned string of minor injuries.

But it makes sense. Less fatigue during a long run equals faster recovery after a long run.

Anything Not to Like about Run-Walk-Run?

It Makes Running with Others Harder

Really the only disadvantage I ran into was when running with others who are “straight” runners—which is pretty much everyone else I ran with! I was used to walking every few minutes and they weren’t.

Carrying a Stop Watch

This may or may not be a big deal for you. I got used to it. Jeff Galloway sells a timer specially designed for the run-walk-run method, which I probably would’ve gotten if I had kept running.

The final word

This is a great method for:

  • Beginners
  • “Mature” runners who don’t want to give up running yet, but want it to be easier on their body
  • Those recovering from injuries
  • Those who want to try for a PR in their next race (Seriously! Jeff tells many stories of run-walk-runners breaking their own speed records by several minutes when doing this. See his site for details.)

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