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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.