Jeff Galloway, accomplished author of several running books, preaches the philosophy of taking walk breaks to help improve one’s distance and speed. According to Galloway, incorporating walk breaks before you are exhausted will help you to increase your distance, keeping you motivated and destroying mental blocks.
How do walk breaks work?
Let’s say that you can run 2 miles without stopping but you want to get up to 3 miles so you can complete your first 5K in three weeks. Here is what you might want to do in order to get that last 3.1 miles.
Three Weeks before the race: Increase one run to 2.5 miles, taking a short (30 seconds to 1 minute) walk break after you finish your 2nd mile, then try to run the remaining distance, even if at a slower pace. If you need to take another walk break, do so, but try to keep it less than 1 minute.
Two Weeks before the race: Increase one run to 3 miles, taking a short walk break after 2 miles and then if needed again at about 2.5 miles, trying to finish strong.
One Week before the race: Try to run the 3.1 miles, at a slower pace (about 1-2 minutes slower than normal pace). Take walk breaks as needed but cover the entire 5K distance.
The above example is one I often use when getting first race runners to see that they can cover an upcoming 5K. Then on the day of the race they no longer need to worry if they can complete it (they already have), just enjoy it. Most even realize that they are able to finish the 5K without taking walking breaks.
What if you still need to take walk breaks?
Don’t let vanity get in your way and burn you out during a run. Just because you take walk breaks during any run (or race) doesn’t mean anything. There are runners of all distances who have taken walk breaks during their runs. I know experienced marathoners who have taken walk breaks and runners who have taken walk breaks during a race and have realized faster times when they reached the finish line (me included)!
As you develop your running program or look to increase your distance, look at incorporating walk breaks into your program. You may be surprised at your results.