Review : Jeff Galloway marathon training method

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I used the Jeff Galloway run / walk method to train for my first marathon, which I completed successfully on April 3rd of this year. I bought the Jeff Galloway marathon book and did the plan on my own.

For my first marathon, I could not see myself running for over 4 hours and I absolutely wanted to finish injury free. This method resonated because Galloway says …”walk breaks allow your running muscles to recover before they are injured and conserve your energy so you can exercise for longer periods, which builds the endurance you need”. Made sense.

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I would summarize the plan  :

  • He method is based on alternating between a run and a walk. The training runs on the weekend use a run/walk method. The marathon is also done fully run/walk.
  • It is a six month plan that builds very slowly. The long run on the weekend increases every 2 weeks for the first 3 months and for the last 3 month, the weekends alternate between the long run, interval / speed work, and the third weekend is a ‘shorter’ long run, with a time trial (the magic mile). He specifies the distance and speed.
  • During the week, Galloway proposes 3 runs, and the time is specified. You can do run/walk or just run. Because I am over 40 there was the option to do only 2 of these runs
  • You have the option of cross training, except for one day, the day preceding the long run which is a rest day.
  • There is an initial time trial that will determine what your run/walk ratio should be. 2:1, 3:1, 4:1, 5:1…and will give you your plan with which paces you should hit during the week, long runs and on weekends with speed work.

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What I did :

  • I followed the plan probably 95%. On the weekends where the mileage was the lowest I would either add in a 4th run during the week, or run a bit longer than what was on the plan.

What I liked :

  • No injury ! I have had injuries in the past and was a bit paranoid about getting injured. I think that the run/walk method, and 3 runs a week kept injury at bay. I have never run so frequently or with so much mileage and I had no problems.
  • I felt the plan was very flexible. As long as I got my 3 runs in a week, I was fine. With work, travel life, I got in ALL my runs, no problem.
  • I liked that the long runs build slowly and take you to marathon distance, before the marathon. They are run more slowly than marathon pace but build the endurance you need : 11, 13, 15, 17, 20, 23, 26, 28 miles. This is a huge confidence builder and helps keep the wall away. Not once did I hit it.
  • There is a 3 week recovery plan after the marathon.

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What is more challenging but manageable  :

  • Figuring out the right run/walk ratio. I played around with this the whole 6 months.
  • The long runs are LONG. You are meant to do them 2 minutes slower than your marathon goal time. And it takes you up to 26 or 28 miles, to push your endurance level. This meant I was out on my long runs between 4 and 6 hours !
  • It is hard determining how fast you should run on the ”run” part. This took time and experience to find the good pace.
  • The psychology of not “running” the whole time. You need to accept that you are different than 99% of the other runners ! NO ONE in France has heard of Jeff Galloway method.

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What I didn’t like :

  • I feel the book is a bit dated, like it hasn’t been updated in ages. For example, I didn’t agree with most of Galloway’s chapter on nutrition. Nutrition science has made huge leaps and bounds over the past few years and I felt this part wasn’t up with today’s thinking.
  • I should have immediately bought a timer. I spent the first 4 months looking at my watch which is really annoying. Best 20 dollar investment ever.

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The plan might not be for you if :

  • You are used to training plans with paces. This one focuses on endurance and while it does tell you what pace you need to hit for your mile repeats and for the marathon, it is a very small part of the plan.
  • If you are against walk breaks and feel you have to run.
  • If you feel like 6 months is too overwhelming.

Here are some of the elements that resonated with me and cause me to choose this plan and looking back at my experience, all are true :

”…The long run is what builds up your endurance… as you push a mile or 3 further on your LR, you increase the limits of your endurance.

…by walking often and early you vary the use of the muscle and reduce the intensity of its work. Because you are not using the muscle in the same way continuously you can significantly increase the distance you can cover before fatigue sets in.

…most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they do not slow down at the end of a LR.

…you get the same endurance from the long run if you run slowly as you will if you run fast. However you will recover much faster from a slow long run. ”

 

Ever tried Galloway ? What do you think ?

Disclaimer : I am not a doctor or in the medical profession so please consult your doctor before trying a marathon training plan.

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Comments: 16

  1. Marcia April 28, 2016 at 12:39 pm Reply

    I’ve not tried a Galloway plan but I know many who’ve had great success like you did. There’s much to be said for running long runs way slower than you think you “should”. As a coach I see so many people going way too fast. Walking to aid recovery resonates as well. The hardest part for me would probably be getting my head around spending so much time on those long runs.
    Marcia recently posted…Relays, Ducks and DogsMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 28, 2016 at 8:41 pm Reply

      I know, but because the build is slow slow, I was actually looking forward to my long runs, and pushing the distance a bit more each time.

  2. Karen April 28, 2016 at 4:04 pm Reply

    Great post! I am still working on mine.
    The length of the plan is scary, but I always try to calm that with I am going to work out anyway…
    It is fantastic you mad e it through your whole training cycle with no injury!
    I do not want to run the full marathon distance though before a race, so i know I would do a modified plan.
    I do love my timer 🙂 I use it often to do timed intervals for speed work, it is quite handy.
    I know exactly what you mean about how fast to run the “run” parts!!
    I say well done Karen, it is hard to try y something new and you tackled this perfectly!
    Karen recently posted…Capturing Race MomentsMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 28, 2016 at 8:40 pm Reply

      I really liked having the structure and surprised myself that I was so disciplined with the plan. I am not ready to start up again though… not yet !

  3. Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy April 28, 2016 at 5:04 pm Reply

    I retried Galloway last summer, but on my own terms. Which means I take the parts I like & then make up my own plan!

    It’s been working well for me (despite minor, nagging injuries) & I plan to stick with it, again on my own terms, I really think the fact that he takes you past your race mileage is not a good thing — I don’t care how slowly or how much you walk, that opens you up to injury and illness.

    You did great! If it hadn’t been such a warm day, my guess is you would have hit your time goal, too.
    Judy @ Chocolaterunsjudy recently posted…A Failure as a Girl Scout: TOLTMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 28, 2016 at 8:39 pm Reply

      I liked the long mileage it really helped my confidence. 24 or 25 miles I think would have been enough. 28 ? no way. I was too tired with training.

  4. Darlene April 28, 2016 at 6:12 pm Reply

    I think for a marathon, Galloway is great. I would use it too.

    I am not disciplined enough to use. I run until I am tired and then I walk.
    Darlene recently posted…TOLT: Lake George Half Marathon RecapMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 28, 2016 at 8:38 pm Reply

      Sounds like a good plan !

  5. Pam and Christine April 28, 2016 at 11:33 pm Reply

    This is a great review of the run walk program by Jeff. I used this plan when running the Goofy Challenge (half and full marathon on consecutive days) to stay healthy and be able to complete both races. I think this works really well for first time marathoners and the GymBoss timer is a lifesaver. I looked at my watch for my first few marathons and then got a timer. As you mentioned, it was the best $20 spent on running accessories! Have you signed up for your next marathon yet???
    Pam and Christine recently posted…Random thoughts from a runMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 29, 2016 at 7:31 am Reply

      Yes, my second marathon of the year will be NY in November ! I got it 🙂

  6. Lisa @ Running Out Of WIne April 29, 2016 at 1:15 am Reply

    Great break down of the plan! Sounds like it could definitely benefit some runners. I think it sounds like a good way to train while avoiding injury!
    Lisa @ Running Out Of WIne recently posted…Port to Fort 6k Race RecapMy Profile

  7. Sharon April 29, 2016 at 2:48 am Reply

    The plan is very interesting! Especially to see that you run/walk 26 & 28 miles. That would be a great confidence booster. I have actually been meeting up with a group on Tuesdays that run using the Galloway method. It has been a nice addition to my workouts but I’m not sure if I will use it for my marathon training plan yet. They are slower paced than my pace and it is really nice to not feel tired at all during the run. Those walking breaks do help.
    Sharon recently posted…North Table Mountain Ecological Reserve Hike with the FamMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 29, 2016 at 7:30 am Reply

      You are definitely right about not feeling tired. It is major advantage.

  8. Chaitali April 29, 2016 at 4:54 pm Reply

    I do the run/walk strategy for my half marathons but I use the Hal Higdon training plans so far. I’m beginning to research more plans and the length of the final long runs in the Galloway plan scare me a bit. Very few plans go up to such high mileage so I’m a bit worried about that. It’s good to hear that you didn’t feel the extra mileage was a detriment 🙂
    Chaitali recently posted…Goat cheese polenta with spinach and roasted tomatoesMy Profile

    • Karen - Fit in France April 29, 2016 at 9:36 pm Reply

      No, the total mileage was completely manageable, and the long runs build so I never had an issue. I felt very confident after each run. But it.was.long.

  9. I’ve never tried this myself but I know lots of moms in our group swear by it. Injury free is always good glad it worked so well for you
    Deborah @ Confessions of a mother runner recently posted…5 Great Mother’s Day Gifts For The Fit Mom In Your LifeMy Profile

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