Sunday, January 24, 2010

...I Did It My (Gallo)Way


I was browsing through my blogroll last week and ended up reading two very interesting accounts by Jet Paiso (I'm Jet Paiso) and Sir Rene Villarta (Jazzrunner) of their recent 45k LSD that they completed using legendary runner Jeff Galloway's run-walk method. Their respective blogs about their "Calibre 45" LSD piqued my interest, and made me want to learn more about the Galloway method. I thought that, once I familiarize myself with the nuances of this technique, I might be able to use it for the upcoming Condura Skyway Marathon.

The Galloway Method

Thank God for the Internet. I googled "Galloway Method" and fortunately stumbled upon an article written by Jeff Galloway himself. It was indeed very informative. According to the article, the run-walk method is very simple: "Run for a short segment and then take a walk break -- and keep repeating this pattern." The article goes on to explain that a runner can "gain control over the amount of fatigue in a race or long run by taking walk breaks, starting at the beginning." It also pointed out that, according to surveys, the run-walk method allows runners to run faster -- up to 13 minutes faster in a marathon with walk breaks than in a continuously run event. Because a lot of fatigue is erased with each walk break, the runner's legs are strong at the finish, and allows the runner to "celebrate that evening and recover fast." This is VERY interesting and intriguing.

The article contains a table of recommended run-walk ratios based on the runner's target average running pace. For instance, according to the table, a runner who intends to maintain a pace of 8:30/mi can employ a run-walk ratio of 5:1 (i.e., 5 minutes run, 1 minute walk).

Galloway concludes his article by summarizing the benefits of the run-walk method:

+ it gives the runner control over the way he feels;
+ it erases fatigue;
+ it allows endorphins to collect during each walk break;
+ it breaks up the distance into manageable units;
+ it allows for faster recovery;
+ it reduces the probability of aches, pains, and injury; and
+ it allows carry on the rest of his day without debilitating fatigue.

Wow. Imagine all of those benefits. I'm really sold! I will definitely use the run-walk method for my upcoming marathon.

The article is very helpful, and gives a concise summary of the nuances and benefits of the Galloway method. I say it's a must read for runners who are not familiar with the technique. To read the article, click here.

Putting Theory Into Practice

Earlier today, I completed a 30k LSD using the Galloway method. And boy, was it effective! I used a 5:1 run-walk ratio, and I meticulously stuck to this during the entire run. As prescribed by the article, I had walk breaks even during the early stages of my run and even when my legs were not yet exhausted. I noticed that I felt recharged after each walk break. From a psychological standpoint, I noticed that breaking up the entire run into five-minute intervals made the 30k distance very tolerable. I treated each five-minute run interval as one goal, and each one-minute walk break a reward. Instead of telling myself "c'mon, just 15 kilometers more," I would instead tell myself "c'mon, just two minutes more." All of a sudden, the task at hand no longer seemed very daunting. The attainment of each "mini-goal" kept me highly motivated throughout the entire run.

For the entire run, inclusive of the walk breaks and pit stops, I ended up with an average pace of 8:12/k - well within my target race day average pace of 7:30 to 8:30/k. Here's a map of my run from Garmin Connect:

I did 30k in 4:06:17, and that already included three pit stops at convenience stores (for hydration and some in-run snacks) and one bathroom break. I did two loops up and down Upper McKinley in McKinley Hill in Kms 13 to 17, and although I had already been running for a little over two hours at that point, my legs easily overcame the gradient of the course. After the run, I still felt strong, and I knew I still had enough left in the tank and in my legs to cover 12 more kilometers and complete the distance for a full marathon. My legs, knees, and feet were tired but were not painful. Compare this to last weekend, when I did a 25k LSD in 3:19:04 without using the run-walk technique. Because my legs were already tired by Km 22, I had to walk for most of the last three kilometers of the run. This time around, I was strong all the way and my legs held up -- and actually could have handled more kilometers. I cleared Km 25 in 3:22:08. Despite the walk breaks, it only took me 3 minutes longer to clear 25k during this run.

Given the outcome of my 30k run using the Galloway method, I believe it's entirely possible for me to finish a marathon faster than I would if I were to attempt a marathon without following a structured run-walk technique. Why? For one, because I was able to conserve my legs via the walk breaks, my pace throughout the entire run was almost constant. This can be seen in the following graphical representation of my 30k run (the blue line shows my pace), again from Garmin Connect:

As you can see, there were hardly any significant fluctuations (except during the walk breaks, of course). In contrast, during my 25k LSD last weekend, I ran almost 19 kms without taking any walk breaks. The result? There were greater fluctuations in my pace. I even ended up taking reeeeally long and slow walk breaks during of my run. Check this out:

Without regular walk breaks, there's a big possibility that I'd hit the dreaded Wall and end up taking a lot longer to finish the marathon -- or that I'd never get to finish the marathon at all.

The 30k run is the longest distance I've run since I started taking running seriously, and will be my last long run before the Condura Skyway Marathon on February 7. It's now time to taper my mileage in preparation for the big day. I will therefore find out whether I have what it takes to finish a marathon -- all 42.192 kms of it -- only during the marathon itself. However, I am confident that I will be able to get the job done because I was able to cover 30k in 4:06. That gives me almost two more hours to cover the remaining 12 kms to complete the marathon (the cut-off is six hours). With the run-walk method, I should be able to do that.

Talking Trash

Skyway, two weeks from now, I'm going to run-walk all over your sorry @ss hahaha! :)


  1. Congrats! Yes, doing the Galloway run-walk method needs quite a high EQ as you need to force yourself to walk at the early stages wherein you still feel strong. It is quite tempting to run all the way during this stage. Its good to know you were able to notice the big difference.

    Good luck and see you Gallowaying through the Skyway!

  2. nice atty cervantes! (ikaw pala yung hubby ni bambam hehehe)

    see you in condura skyway marathon!

  3. I see that you've mastered it already, Julius. Nice run and see you at Condura,:-)

  4. You have now the necessary endurance run and better yet a strategy that works for you. I wish you all the best on the Condura. No doubt you can do it!

  5. Hi, Neil. Thanks for dropping by. You're definitely right. The run-walk method does take a lot of EQ hahaha! See you at Condura!

    Jet, small world! Bam did say you guys have frequent dealings. Hope to meet you personally at Condura, bro. And please, just call me Julius hehehe :)

    Sir Rene, thanks a lot. I'll see you at the Skyway!

    Sir Amado, thanks for dropping by, and thanks in advance for the Reinier/ aid station at Condura. Hope to meet you personally one of these days.