Most beginner runners start out using a run/walk technique because they don't have the endurance or fitness to run for extended periods of time. Some experienced runners also use run/walk as a strategy for increasing their overall mileage, completing endurance races, and reducing their injury risk.
Here's how to do the run/walk method:
- The run/walk method is simple: After you've warmed-up with a 5-minute walk, run for a short segment and then take a walk break. Beginners can alternate very short run segments with short walks, such as 1 minute running, 7 minutes walking.
- Keep repeating your run/walk pattern until you've covered your goal distance or time. For example, if you want to run/walk for 16 minutes, you can run/walk at a 1:7 ratio for two cycles. Make sure that you're using the proper form (applies to both your running and walking segments).
- You should start your walk portion before your running muscles get too tired. This will allow your muscles to recover instantly, which extends the time and distance that you can cover. If you wait until you're very fatigued, you'll end up walking slowly and it will be difficult to start running again.
- If you want to time your running and walking intervals, you can use a watch or other device that beeps to signal when you need to switch. A simple running watch such as the Timex Ironman has an interval timer feature. Another product that is a favorite among run/walkers is the Gymboss, a small, easy-to-use interval timer that can clip onto your shorts, shirt, jacket, or hat.
- For the walk portions, make sure you're not taking a leisurely stroll. You should use good running form and pump your arms, so that your heart rate stays elevated. That way, you'll still be getting a good cardiovascular workout and it will make the transition back to running easier.
- As you continue with your run/walk program, try to extend the amount of time you're running and reduce your walking time.
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- If you'd like to aim to run for 30 minutes continuously, try this 8-week run/walk program for beginners.
- Once you can successfully run for long stretches, don't feel as if you have to abandon the run/walk method. Some long-distance runners use it in training runs and races to help reduce muscle soreness and fatigue.
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- Drink water at the end of your workouts to rehydrate. If it's hot and humid, you should also drink some water (about 4-6 ounces) halfway through your workout.
- Use your breathing as your guide during your running segments. You should be able to carry on a conversation while running and your breathing shouldn't be heavy. Not only will you be able to run/walk longer, but you'll also prevent side stitches.
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