I’m sold on the Galloway Method.
My friend Marilyn, the leader of the DC/Beltway chapter of LIFE Runners, invited members to run the Father’s Day 10K on June 20 in Mason Neck State Park. As it turned out, she and her husband Chris and I were the only ones who could make it. The race was starting at 9 am, which is a bit late for a June race, and I was a little worried it would be hot. Fortunately it was cloudy that morning, which kept the temperatures down; although it was quite humid. I made sure I kept my morning coffee to a minimum (which also reduces the need for bathroom breaks–very important if you’re a runner), and brought my sports drink and plenty of water.
Ready to run for the unborn. All in Christ for Pro Life!
When I decided to sign up for the Richmond Marathon, I chose Jeff Galloway’s training plan, mostly because it will (hopefully) allow me to get my long training runs in without taking over my life. And since I’ve started running, I’ve always been intrigued by his run/walk method of training and racing. The idea is to run for a given period of time, say 3 minutes, depending on your pace and fitness level; and then walk for 30 seconds to 1 minute, and repeat that pattern throughout the run. It’s supposed to reduce fatigue, lower your injury risk, and make recovery much quicker and easier. As I’ve been mulling over all the reasons I should or shouldn’t run a marathon, injury risk has been pretty high on the list of things that would stop me from doing it. Recently on my long runs I’ve been trying a roughly 4 minute run/1 minute walk interval. Sometimes I use a timer, and sometimes it’s a decade of the Rosary while running–which takes a little more than four minutes, I think–and walking while counting off sixty seconds. (A decade of the Rosary is one recitation of the Lord’s Prayer, ten Hail Mary’s, and one Glory Be. It takes longer when you’re running than when you’re sitting or kneeling! You can learn more about how to pray the Rosary here.) When I ran the Star 10K in April, I did my “Rosary method” for part of the race (and as I got closer to the top of Mill Mountain and was getting tired, I would run for just half a decade before walking), and ended up finishing sixth in my age group.
For this race, I decided to try my 4-ish minute decade/count-to-sixty Rosary method for the entire 6.2 miles. I figured with the humidity it might not be a good idea to push myself too hard, and this would be a good practice run for longer races. I turned on my MapMyRun app–with the voice feedback turned off so it wouldn’t distract me–and off we went.
(Belmont Bay, where the Occoquan River meets the Potomac. This was the view not far from the starting line.)
On my first walk break, I tried not to think about all those people running past me, telling myself that I would probably pass them once I started running again. Sure enough, I did, and decided to play a game with myself: Could I pass more people on my running segments than passed me during my walk breaks? With the exception of one or two younger men who ran past me at the beginning and never looked back, I pretty much was able to do that. I didn’t keep an exact count, but on each running segment, I would look at the person in front of me and try to catch up with them, and if I passed them I would then focus on the next one. (I’ve heard people compare racing to playing a video game–let’s try and see how many people we can pick off as we run.) I found that when I was running, I was able to go a little bit faster than I would if I hadn’t been taking walk breaks. Here’s the breakdown of my race according to my phone app:
Mile 1: Pace 9:41
Mile 2: Pace 10:07
Mile 3: Pace 10:03
(Right around the halfway mark. I wanted to show you my fancy-schmancy water bottle that hooks to the back of my running belt that I take to every race and bring on almost every run. It’s fabulous.)
Mile 4: Pace 10:10
Mile 5: Pace 10:24
Mile 6: Pace 10:10
As I approached the finish line, I could barely see the clock through the trees, and at first I thought it said 1:09-something (which was my finish time at the Star 10K) but as I got closer I realized it was 1:03 and I would get a PR! Since it was such a small race (50 competitors–24 women and 26 men) I wondered if there was a chance I might win an award. To my surprise and delight, I did! My official time was 1:03:45, my fastest 10K, and I placed first in my age group–not including the 43-year old who was the third overall women’s finisher, of course!
(A sweet medal and a cool shirt!)
I was getting pretty tired toward the end of the race, despite the walk breaks. Last week I learned, after listening to an interview with Jeff Galloway and looking at his website for the gajillionth time, that he’s revised his run/walk interval recommendations. Now he suggests shorter run segments with shorter walk breaks; so instead of a 4/1 interval, you would do a 2 min run/30 second walk. This past weekend my friend and I tried that and it worked well, because she hadn’t run in a while and didn’t think she could do more than 3 miles. As we approached the 3-mile mark, she said she wanted to go another mile; and when we finished our 4-mile run, she told me she felt like she could run more but didn’t want to push it. Next weekend we plan to run 5 miles together with the 2/30 interval, and I can’t wait! (I’m supposed to run 11 miles. For the 6 miles I’ll do on my own, I might try a 3 minute/45 second interval just for kicks.)
I don’t know if I’ll do any more races before the Hokie Half in September, but I’m definitely using the Galloway method!