How to Get Started with the Run–Walk Method
As a beginner runner, running for longer distances or duration may seem daunting. However, running is more than just logging long miles. When you incorporate running into your daily routine, your heart health improves and stress reduces. Moreover, running boosts your overall fitness. So, it is important that you start slow and follow methods that will help you ease into a suitable running routine comfortably. You may explore different training methods. One of the most popular training techniques that we cover here is the run-walk method.
What is the run-walk method?
The run-walk method is an effective technique for improving endurance whether you are a beginner or an advanced runner. A beginner runner may not have the aerobic capacity to sustain running for a prolonged period. The run-walk method helps you to take intermittent recovery breaks much like advanced runners do during speed workouts.
The intervals between run and walk vary. For instance, a sedentary person who joins a run-walk program may alternate between 30 seconds of running, followed by a 2-minute walk. Conversely, a beginner who is relatively fit may start by doing a 2-minute run followed by a 2-minute walk.
As mentioned earlier, apart from beginners, even advanced runners use this method to complete their long runs, participate in ultra-distance races or difficult trail runs, or while returning from an injury.
What are the advantages of the run-walk method?
Listed below are a few plus points of this training technique:
1. Helps in reducing fatigue
Adding walking intervals to your run can give your body a short, active rest period. When you are running for a long duration, the same muscles are constantly being worked, which can lead to fatigue or aches. Moreover, during running, your muscles are absorbing more shock when landing compared to walking. Walk breaks can help reduce fatigue, as the muscles get some time to recover. This may allow you to run longer or farther.
2. Promotes faster recovery
The reduced fatigue aids in faster recovery from training. Taking short walking breaks between runs is good to start the recovery process. As you keep moving, the muscle contractions help in promoting blood flow. This leads to better removal of metabolic waste that builds up during intense workouts. This helps to decrease fatigue and inflammation and promotes faster recovery.
3. Lowers the risk of injury
A high-impact, repetitive activity like running can impart a significant amount of stress on the body. Runners are prone to overuse injuries such as shin splints and plantar fasciitis. Often, they need to take appropriate precautions to prevent such injuries. Adding regular walking intervals can reduce the load on the body and stress on the joints. This is beneficial, especially for those who are relatively more prone to injuries and for individuals who are getting back to running after an injury or a break.
Also read: Running: Early Signs of Injury and How to Avoid Them
4. Helps build endurance
As a beginner, one of the primary focuses of your training is to build endurance. The run-walk method can help beginners to develop endurance progressively. This method helps you to stay on your feet longer compared to continuous running, as the muscles are less fatigued. So, you can sustain the activity for a longer duration.
5. Eases the mental challenge of running longer
Running continuously for longer distances or extended periods may seem difficult for a beginner, which may make them feel like quitting. The walk breaks in the run-walk technique can help you deal with the mental challenge associated with the task. It is because this method helps break down a running workout into smaller intervals of running and walking, making it easier for you. So, this approach will keep you motivated and focused.
Getting started on a run-walk program
The strategy behind the run-walk method is to incorporate a good ratio of running and walking adjusted for pace, which can help you reduce fatigue and stay on your feet longer. Here is a step-by-step guide for a beginner to get started with the run-walk method.
Also watch: How to Walk Faster?
- Do a brisk walk for about 10-15 minutes post your warm up
- Buy a good fitness watch. Several watches help you time your intervals. These watches can be set to beep. So, you will get an indication regarding when to walk and when to start running. This will give you a precise duration of when to switch between walking and running.
- Set the timer of your fitness watch to reflect your current fitness ability. For instance, a beginner can start with a running to walking ratio of 1:2, ie, you can start with a 45-second run, followed by a 90-second walk.
- Make sure you run at a conversational pace during the run phase and do brisk walking during the walk phase.
- Set the timer to do these repetitions for a reasonable period, which may be a total duration of 30 minutes
- Increase the duration after one to two weeks as you get fitter and progress till you can sustain this routine for 60 minutes
- Raise the run-walk ratio gradually after two-three weeks
By following these steps, eventually, your aerobic capacity will improve to the extent that you will reach a stage where running continuously for 30–45 minutes is not difficult.
What does a sample 3K run-walk program look like?
Here is a sample 3K run-walk program. Make sure that you warm up before and stretch after every session. On rest days, relax adequately so that your body can recover well.
The run-walk method is a safe and easy way to improve endurance and keep your heart rate within manageable limits. It is an ideal program for anyone who wants to stay fit without the exercise discomfort that comes with hard workouts. Likewise, it suits seasoned runners that need to make an extra effort in handling an unusually long run or an ultra-race.
Also watch: How to Pace Yourself on Race Day?