Running is not an easy sport to begin. Even if life-long runners take just a few weeks off, when they come back it can feel incredibly taxing to jog 2-3 miles easy. For someone new to the sport, it can take several months before running several miles straight, without a break, feels comfortable.
For these beginner runners, one excellent way to start building aerobic fitness and strengthening the muscles necessary for running is to employ the run/walk method. Essentially this method begins by prescribing short intervals of running followed by longer intervals of walking, so that the runner has a chance to rest before beginning another segment of running.
As the program progresses, the intervals of running will become longer as the intervals of walking become shorter. The goal of the program is that the runner will eventually be able to run for a certain distance, such as a 5k, without needing to walk.
Some runners, though, just continue using the run/walk method for their entire career, because it is less taxing on the body. Another group that may find the run/walk method helpful are longtime runners coming back from serious injury. For many recovering athletes, it is important to not jump back into training too quickly, which could re-aggravate an injury.
Utilizing the run/walk method is a more gradual way to reintroduce oneself to running, thus decreasing the likelihood of re-injury.
For those interested in beginning a training plan based on the run/walk method, here is a sample 8-week training schedule with the goal of being able to run a 5k without stopping at the end of the 8 weeks. Do each of these workouts 3 times during the prescribed week to maximize effectiveness. On the days in between, you may either take them off or go for light walks. Make sure not to go too hard in the early stages of training and remember that there is absolutely no shame in starting slow. Whatever pace at which you feel most comfortable is the right pace for you!
Week 1: 5 x [1 min run/5 min walk]. 30 minutes total
(Key: 5 x [1 min run/ 5 min walk] means that you do 5 sets of 1 minute of running followed by 5 minutes of walking followed by 1 minute of running followed by 5 minutes of walking and so on until 5 sets are complete.)
Week 2: 5 x [1:30 min run/4:30 walk]. 30 min total
Week 3: 5 x [2 min run/4 min walk]. 30 min total
Week 4: 5 x [3 min run/3 min walk]. 30 min total.
Week 5: 5 x [4 min run/2 min walk]. 30 min total.
Week 6: 4 x [6 min run/2 min walk]. 32 min total.
Week 7: 4 x [6 min run/2 min walk]. 32 min total.
Week 8: 4 x [7 min run/1 min walk]. 32 min total
If you follow this plan and trust in yourself, you will be
amazed how strong your body will grow.
Whether you are new to running, coming back from injury or you just need a break from intense training, the run/walk method is a great way to increase aerobic capacity in a less intense form of workout. Regardless of your reason for choosing the run/walk method, be excited by the knowledge that you are getting faster, stronger and one day soon will be running miles and miles with no need to stop!