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Qualifying For Boston Using Walk Breaks

December 19th, 2013 | Posted In: Jeff Galloway, Newsletter Articles

By Olympian Jeff Galloway

Earlier this month I qualified for Boston using a strategy of run 30 seconds/walk 15 seconds.  Most runners who hear this are surprised and often shocked. Having experimented with various running segments, I am sure that had I run more than 30 seconds as my strategy I don’t believe I would have made it.

Because of what happened in Boston this year, for the first time in 10 years I wanted to qualify again.  But I haven’t run speedwork in that decade and have enjoyed running a marathon each month with my wife Barbara.  Because of my travel schedule, I could not do the ideal amount of speed training or long runs, so there were some compromises.

Having coached thousands of runners over 50 years old, trying various run/walk/run strategies, I have seen the trend emerging:  Shorter run segments keep the legs more resilient so that they are strong to the finish.  This means faster times.

I did not have the full 3 month training period for best preparation.  But I had two half marathons and one 10 race (Disney Tower of Terror) to use as speed workouts.  It would have been better to have had time to work in all of the mile repeat workouts which have maximized performance in the marathon.

I was running the Space Coast Marathon which has two advantages over most marathons: relatively flat (with some gentle undulations) and not significantly crowded.  No raceday is perfect and the minor downsides were temps just below 70F, quite humid, and a headwind for the last 6.5 miles.

I used a variety of run/walk/run strategies in training and in races and discovered that, for me, the 30 seconds run/15 sec walk—worked best.  I stuck with this until the last 3 miles when I found that a 20 sec run/10 sec walk kept me on my pace better when tired.

I crossed the line 6 seconds under my goal.  That was closer than I had wished but I qualified.  I’m still glowing from the accomplishment.

I suggest that you test out various strategies on one of your short runs each week, like I did.  Time yourself for half a mile (2 laps around a track) for 4 to 6 repetitions.  Walk 2-3 minutes between each.  As you try various configurations, each week, you will discover which ones work best for you.

Many runners who do this are often surprised that shorter segments leave one less tired and produce faster times in races.  Here are some alternatives for various paces

chart

There are solutions to almost any run/walk/run issue.  Enjoy every run!

Jeff Galloway

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