The following describes some of the benefits of introducing walk breaks into your long runs and possible intervals used. Please let your coaches know if you are interested in learning more about run/walk programs and/or in trying run/walk intervals at the weekend group runs.
Advantages of talking walk breaks
Walk breaks offer the following advantages when taken from the beginning – while giving all of the endurance benefits of the distance covered:
- They conserve energy so that you can exercise for longer periods (and therefore longer distances) because you are shifting the workload between the running and the walking muscles and therefore increase your overall performance capacity.
- They reduce the chance of over-training and avoid injuries of the running muscles as the muscles get a chance to recover before they accumulate fatigue.
- They force you to slow down early in a run so that you do not start too fast. This conserves your energy, fluids, and muscle capacity.
- They help most marathoners to run faster in the marathon itself as they will not slow down at the end of the run. You will lose only about 15-20 seconds when you walk for 1 minute. The short distance you lose on extra walking earlier will almost always be recovered at the end because you keep your legs fresher.
- They leave you feeling good after the long runs and help you to recover faster.
- They break the 26.2 (or 13.1) miles into segments which you know you can do.
When to take walk breaks:
Walk breaks must be taken early (start in the first mile) and often even when increasing long run length to reduce pounding and fatigue and to allow the primary running muscles to recover fast.
It is better to take 1–minute walk break every 5 minutes than to take a 5-minute walk every 25 minutes. By breaking up your run early – with even a short break – you allow for quicker and more effective recovery.
You do not need to take walk breaks on runs that are short enough and easy for you to run continuously – like some of your runs during the week.
After 18 miles walk breaks can be reduced or eliminated.
Don’t get too rigidly locked into a specific ratio of walk breaks. Even if you run the same distance every day you will find that you need to vary the frequency of your walk breaks to account for speed, hills, heat, humidity, time off from training, etc.
You will find different recommendations in the literature when it comes to determining the right run/walk ratio for you. Here are some:
1. Average runners: Run 3-8 minutes / walk 1-2 minutes
2. Advanced runners: Run 8-10 minutes (1 mile) / walk 1 minute
3. First time marathoners: Run 3-4 minutes / walk 1 minute
4. Based on Marathon time goal:
Time Goal (Hour) and Matching Interval
- 6+ Hours Run 1-2 min / walk 1-2 min
- 5:30 – 6:00 Run 4-5 min / walk 1 min
- 5:00 – 5: 29 Run 5-6 min / walk 1 min
- 4:30 – 4:59 Run 6-7 min / walk 1-2 min
- 4:00 – 4: 29 Run 7-8 min / walk 1 min
- 3:30 – 3:59 Walk 40-60 sec after every mile
- 3:22 – 3: 29 Walk 30-40 sec after every mile
- 3:16 – 3: 21 Walk 20-30 sec after every mile
- 3:08 – 3: 15 Walk 15-25 sec after every mile
- 2:50 – 3: 07 Walk 10-20 sec after every mile
Determining Your Walk-Run Ratio
Walk-Run ratios can be very flexible so don’t stress. To help you match yourself up with the right numbers here are some steps to determine your run/walk ratio for your runs:
Step 1: 3-Mile Run to determine pace
Time yourself for a 3 mile run. Use the total time to determine your pace.
Step 2: Matching Pace with Interval
Based on your 3-mile pace time, use the following table to determine your run/walk interval:
- 9 min/mile Run 5 min / walk 1 min
- 10 min/mile Run 3 min / walk 1 min
- 11 min/mile Run 3 min / walk 1 min
- 12 min/mile Run 2 min / walk 1 min
- 13 min/mile Run 2 min / walk 1 min
- 14 min/mile Run 2 min / walk 1 min
A big promoter of walk breaks during all long runs and the marathons itself is former Olympic athlete Jeff Galloway. He has written a number of books about marathon running and you can find more information on his website at: http://www.jeffgalloway.com