I first heard of walk breaks from the great German coach Ernst Van Aaken. He was a brilliant man. He coached several Olympians but also worked with many average folks who were just trying to be healthy. Walk breaks were one of his primary tools. He used them with everyone. He claimed they had a restorative effect that allowed the athlete to recover and run much greater distances...while becoming healthier and more aerobically fit in the process. I'm a huge fan of the man.
When most people hear of walk/run, they think of Jeff Galloway. Jeff popularized the "Galloway Run Walk Run" method. I read a bit of Galloway's stuff but didn't really take to it. I'm not sure why. Maybe it was a little too commercial or I just wasn't buying all the claims that they were making. But Jeff is no shlub. He was a 1972 Olympian and has coached a couple hundred thousand runners using this method. I suppose there has to be something to it. However, I always felt the Galloway method was something for people who just trying to survive a long event like the marathon...not actually race it. And it had been my experience that if you took a break of any kind on a harder run, it was often hard to get started again. There was nothing restorative about it.
But then I stumbled onto a Bobby McGee. Bobby is a masterful coach. He's coached for a long time and, like Ernst Van Aaken, has coached everyone from coach potatoes to Olympic gold medalists. And from what I can tell, he loves them all. I read about his walk/run protocol here... at the web site of a world class triathlete.
Two things struck me; Firstly...here was a world class triathlete using a walk/run method with success. Secondly, there was an interesting bit of detail...something I had never seen...about how you should do the walk when you do the walk/run protocol.
According to Bobby McGee...The key to the walk is that the walk is done with high cadence...~65 steps (130 if you count both feet) per minute...AND you keep your arms bent in the running position. It's not a stroll...and it's not to be thought of as a rest. It's just a transition to a quick cadence walk for a minute or so...a little less as you get fitter. When I first read this I thought...geez I've never tried that...let's see what happens. After trying it, I can tell you that these little details make all the difference. The transition back to running is smooth and effortless and you feel like you have "re-set" your entire system.
I should also point out that it works much better if you insert the walk periods early in the run. If you wait until you are out of gas, it's not nearly as effective.
Again...rather than re-hash it...you can read about the Bobby McGee walk/run protocol here.
If you want to follow what my experience has been using this method...just click on my training log. But let me just say...I haven't felt this good...or run this many miles...in a long, long time. I don't want to jinx it by blabbing too much about it...but it's hard to restrain my enthusiasm.
There is one drawback though...the ego might not be crazy about the walk breaks...as they are a bit dorkish looking...hee hee...
Please ask questions...if you have any...