Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Run-Walk-Run

Normally prior to a long run (over 6 miles), I can get quite anxious as to whether I will be able to complete the distance and whether I'll be able to successfully keep myself motivated throughout the run as I often get bored running distances over 6 miles (10km).


However, last Thursday was different.  I felt a lot less anxious prior to the run as I knew the intervals that I was planning on introducing this time around as part of Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run strategy (a ratio of 5:1 = 5 minutes running to 1 minute of walking) would help break the run up.  I just didn't know prior to the run whether these intervals would be beneficial or a hindrance!


This ratio isn't strictly following what the Galloway programme suggests for my pace at the moment but, it’s a ratio I felt comfortable to begin with to help me determine whether the walking breaks suit my style (if I have a style) of running.  I intend to experiment in future long runs with different ratio's that the Galloway programme suggests for my predicted pace as determined by the Magic Miles.  Anyway back to the run in hand...


...the 'breaks' felt weird at first as I haven't run intervals since completing the Couch 2 5K (C25K) training programme last year, but after the first few 'breaks' I started to get into the swing of them, the run started to become enjoyable and I began looking forward to the next 'break' once I had started running again.


After only 1 run using this technique I think I’m sold with what it is trying to achieve.  I found that the walking breaks helped me to recover control of my breathing especially following a difficult segment i.e. a hill and it also allowed me to time to refocus and to regain my composure which allowed me to get straight back into a comfortable running stride and rhythm.


The run wasn't without its difficulties though...the breaks came at the 'wrong' time in some of the hills i.e. the beeper went off to start running again as I started to run up a hill, but the thought of running for just 5 more minutes before another 'walk' break really helped me push myself in the running segments.  I did feel that I hadn't stretched enough at the start of the session as my thighs were getting quite tight by mile 6 and a sore foot nearly forced me to cut my planned route short after only 4 miles on the clock, but luckily I managed to keep going and the soreness disappeared.


With this technique, the miles seemed to fly by rapidly, I could enjoy the scenery during the breaks and I didn't really feel bored at any stage of the run and therefore didn't struggle with motivation as much as I normally do on the longer runs.  As a result it was probably my most liberating and enjoyable long run for a long time.  I went over the intended 7.5 miles (bad planning on my part) and racked up 8.7 miles by the time I finished and with the way I was feeling I probably could of carried on running!


The total session duration was 1hr 35 minutes which after discounting the warm up and cool down, the walking elements consisted of 13 walk breaks therefore 13 minutes of walking accumulated during the run.


I was worried beforehand that it wouldn't feel like a proper run with the walk breaks but after I finished I didn't really worry or care about that, it felt like a long run and the times for 5k and 10k (33m and 1hr 6m respectively) were comparable to other runs of similar distances that I have completed to date...if anything it was slightly faster than the average times!


Therefore to conclude, I'm looking forward to experimenting with the Run-Walk-Run ratio's in my future long runs to further establish whether this technique suits my style and helps me to run the longer distances or if it was a one off i.e. a fluke!

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