Ask A Marathon Mommy: Run, Walk, What?

Sharon is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a background in mental health, substance abuse, and child welfare.

“I tried my hand at being a work at home mom, but in 2009 I decided that being a stay at home mom is what works best for me and my family, at least for now. As my kids like to say, I’m “The Boss” of the family, which includes my husband of 9 years, two daughters (ages 4 and 6), and a giant goldfish named Princess Leia. My girls are beautiful and curious and wild and exhausting, and life is never, ever dull! I love reading, traveling, trying new restaurants, and shopping for bargains. I’m also training to run my first marathon in February 2013.”

 

Run, Walk, What?

I’m just back from watching the sun rise over the St. Johns River during a beautiful eight mile run. I’m feeling surprisingly great. So great, in fact, that I’m feeling inspired to tell you more about the training program I’m using.

Now, I’m not an expert at much, except for maybe baking Seven Layer Cookie Bars and catching puke in my hand (c’mon, you moms out there know you’ve done it too). I’m certainly no expert at running. But here’s what I’ve learned so far. In a nutshell, Run-Walk-Run is exactly what you think it is. First you run, then you walk, and then you run some more. It’s interval training, based on your individual goals and abilities. The concept is that taking walk breaks helps prevent injury and fatigue. In theory, Run-Walkers will complete races on par with traditional runners of comparable abilities. Traditional runners start out strong but may lose steam (and speed) as a race progresses; whereas Run-Walkers are less fatigued as the mileage increases, allowing them to maintain a steadier pace throughout a long run.

Skeptical? Yeah, I was too. But so far, I’ve found it to be pretty accurate. I’m able to complete my usual 5 mile mid-week runs in just about the same time, regardless of whether I run with intervals or do it without stopping.

What’s really cool about the Galloway program is that it’s designed for runners of all abilities, even complete beginners. Runners are placed in small groups based on their “Magic Mile.” Your Magic Mile time is the fastest you can possibly run a mile without puking (this is actually in the written instructions). I ran mine in 8:29, which let me squeeze into the 8:00-8:29 pace group. Pace groups range all the way from sub-6:30 (the “Fasties”) to 16:00+ (the Walkers). Pace groups have leaders, who time the runs and the pre-set run-walk intervals. My group, for example, is doing a 2.5:1 interval – this means that we run for 2.5 minutes, then walk for 1 minute. This averages out to a training pace of about 13 minutes per mile.

Jeff Galloway even has a Magic Mile Race Predictor, where you can plug in your Magic Mile time and predict your 5K, Half-Marathon, and Marathon performance. It’s a great way to see if your goals correspond with your abilities.

Bottom line? If you’ve ever considered running but didn’t think you were fit or fast enough, this is a great way to do it! This program really is for everyone. Okay, maybe not rock star runners like my dad, who back in the 1970’s ran a 4:26 mile and can still totally outrun me at 60+ years old! But for regular folks like us – busy moms, perhaps with a few extra pounds to lose, whose primary source of exercise is lifting a 50 pound stroller in and out of the minivan. This is our chance! There are training groups all over the country…maybe even one near you.

Time to sneak in a power nap…have a great week!

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