Monday, June 8, 2009

My Long Run Experiment - Running the Galloway Way

Emily swears by it. Rob is a recent convert to it. I had to see what this run/walk method was all about. Sure, I walk during some of my training runs and races but it's never been structured. I've walked when I couldn't run. Like up long, steep hills or down them if the footing was too dangerous to attempt running. This run would be different. I was planning to walk before I had to walk. This was my first attempt at the Galloway method and I decided to try a 10:2 run/walk ratio. This meant I would run for 10 minutes and then walk for two minutes. This process would be repeated throughout the entire run.

At first this felt a little awkward, walking after only 10 minutes of running. Heck, I wasn't even warmed up after 10 minutes yet I was walking. Running again after my first two minute walking break I still felt stiff. I was already thinking how much I wasn't liking this. After I repeated this process a few more times it became easier to make the transition from running to walking and back to running again. This method does take a degree of discipline. A few times when I had gotten onto a nice running grove I really didn't want to go into the walking break because running was feeling so good. But, I stuck to the plan and walked the walk.

Ten miles into my run I noticed my overall pace (running and walking combined) was actually FASTER than my normal "all running" pace compared to my last time on these trails. Hmm, was there something to this Galloway thing? My running continued to feel very comfortable up to mile 15 or 16. After that I started to struggle a bit but not as much as I did on my last 20 mile run. I finished up with 20.4 miles at a 10:58 pace. That is about one minute per mile faster than my usual "all running" 20 mile trail pace!

OK, I'm not ready to say I'm convinced this is the way to train for all my long distance runs but it definitely makes me want to try it a few more times to see it the results can be repeated. I'm also curious to see how this method effects recovery time. I'll update you on my little experiment in the coming weeks.

Now for something less serious: I saw these 9 little ones following Mommy down the trail to Silver Lake. One tripped and rolled over a few times, sprung to its feet and got back in tow without missing a beat. Too funny!

I'm getting a little bored with this Breakheart - Lynn Woods loop but it's the best local training ground in the immediate area.

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About 2500 feet of gain on my run today. Not a ton but enough to keep me honest.

Ultra marathons are Gallowaking festivals....


  1. Dan,
    I used a similar strategy whith the 50k except I used the heart rate monitor and only deviated when I hit a steep hill, in which I didn't slow down to a complete walk but almost a crawl/jog.

    Sometimes the walk would only be for a minute or so, other times it was as long as a couple or three.

    In the end I checked my 10 mile splits and was very suprised with how even they were considering the terrain and that it was my first run over 4.5 hours.
    I think it shows how well a strutured run/walk can work.
    Also my recovery , I think was very quick.

  2. Those are incredibly even splits. That’s the way a race should be run but few can do it. I’m thinking about getting a HR monitor so I can incorporate low HR running into my ultra training program.

  3. Great job Dan. There may be something to this method. The real test will be race day.

  4. Not sure what I think of this. Will definitely be interested in seeing how it works for you over the long term. I really hate taking myself out of a strong groove to walk or stop.

  5. Dan, New York Times had a recent article on the run/walk method. The idea is that you walk early on (rather then when you get tired) and thus conserve glycogen. Glad it worked out for you. I would probably try it if I ever run an ultra. My issues with this plan is that walking breaks my running stride. I absolutely love to get lost into running and taking walking breaks would interfere with that. Different strokes for different folks, I guess:) Ana

  6. Chris and Ana
    I too hate to stop running if I'm having a good stretch of running. I'm using this to see what will work for me in a 50 mile event. If you don't practice it in training it would be hard to pull of in a race. Unless you're an elite, walking is something you just have to in an ultra.

  7. Reading this makes my legs hurt!!! I just have a hard time to stop once I run, unless there's a big hill coming up!

  8. I have often thought it definitely makes sense to use this method for a long ultra, (100 miler or 24 hour race). The thing that stops me from trying it, is there are hills and terrain that would force me to walk at times when I should be running if following the run walk ratio as planned. I think it would be impossible to do Galloway on mountainous rough terrain training runs or races, but many runners do Galloway (without calling it Galloway) in track or road 24-hour events. Often the ones that end up winning follow a pre-planned run-walk ratio. There is a lot to be said for the method.

  9. Laurel
    If I decide to follow this for my first 50 I would still walk all the uphills and run all the downhills even if it didn't fall into the designated run/walk cycle. It just doesn't seem right to WALK the donwhill ;-) Then I would follow it as planned on any flat sections. I just need to experiment with the ratio of run vs walk. Thanks for your input!

  10. Dan, what a great post. One of my favorite topics as you know! I use a 5:1/run-5:walk-1 minute ratio. Conserving glycogen is for sure but also using different muscles early on helps the legs last, PREVENTS injury and speeds recovery. This method isn't for everyone, as noted, but can help make a long run/race better, especially if under prepared in training for the distance. In that case more walk breaks earlier than planned. The hard part is taking a walk break when you don't feel you need it, letting everyone go (I saw to myself "see you at mile 24"). In trail marathons I use the run:walk method and also allow the terrain to dictate the walk break. At the 6 hour, I walked all the ups AND downs until the later stages and then ran them the last 2-3 laps. My legs felt fresh. This is also how I could complete the distance with very low mileage.
    Again this isn't for everyone one but I love it an walk breaks can turn an okay run into a great one.


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