Sunday, January 09, 2011

run v. run-walk

I'm running a marathon in two weeks. Yes, I'm nervous. Yes, I'm freaking out a little when I think about it. Yes, I've run one before so I know this is typical taper madness. No, I'm not feeling good about this one.

My last marathon was 3 months ago -- St. George (UT). I went into that one totally prepared to walk away with a shiny new PR, but it didn't happen and my training since that time has been spotty. I was sick and had a terrible cough for 4 or 5 long weeks in November/December. It has just been in the last two weeks that I've been feeling 100% healthy again. The less-than-stellar training has really shaken my confidence. I've managed to get in the long runs but anything over 17 or 18 miles has been tough... like, really tough...

My running peeps have suggested I employ a run-walk strategy for the upcoming marathon. It would be my first time doing this in a race so I have lots of unknowns with how that'll work for me. Yesterday I ran 12 miles and alternated 10 minutes of running with 1 minute of brisk walking. I noticed that my running periods were at a faster pace and overall it didn't seem to make much of a difference with my time. But that was just 12 miles. My greatest fear is that my walk breaks will start to increase in time further down the marathon and that picking it up to run a faster pace again will become increasingly more difficult.

My friends have finished marathons in the 3:45 to 4:00 range using this method. When they run the full 26.2 miles, their times are (surprisingly!) not that much different from those they've posted using the run-walk strategy. They tell me the key is start the run-walk routine earlier than you think you'll need it during the marathon, like at mile 2.

So I'm wondering... do you use this strategy? How does your time vary? Is it difficult in the end to maintain the run-walk? Would love to hear your thoughts!

9 comments:

Stephanie said...

I definitely use this strategy. I haven't run enough races to determine if its in my best interest but its what works for me as far as getting back into the race with a better mind frame.

Sarah said...

I wish I had something more valuable to contribute.... I've never run a full marathon, but the method definitely sounds logical. I do wish you good luck and safe running though!

the Mommy said...

I ran San Antonio Marathon in November and tried to run the full thing. It was painful. I then ran White Rock Marathon 3 weeks later and walked every water station, and dropped 9 minutes off my SA time. I'd say do it.

laurel said...

I am running my first marathon this Saturday, using the run-walk strategy. Since I haven't done a marathon before, obviously, I can't speak to that. I was hesitant to do it, but after reading one of Jeff Galloway's books about it, it really seemed logical. He was very emphatic, that if you employ the method from the very beginning, before you feel like you need the walk breaks, that you would be able to finish in the same time as you would running the whole thing, or often, would be able to finish faster. I know that for several of my long runs, I ran the whole thing, and others I did a walk-run...my time was about the same but mentally, the walk-run was a LOT easier. I am really curious to hear what else people have to say about their experiences.

Team Hanni said...

I have always tried to run the entire time. I have this fear that if I stop running... (especially 20+ miles) I may not be able to start again. I am interested to see how your race goes! Good luck!

M4 said...

Hi, there. I am so excited to come across a Marathoning Mom blog!! I have run four full marathons (2 in '09 and 2 in '10). My last time, in a hillier race, was 3:57 - an exciting PB for me. Last summer I began running with a heart rate monitor, so I knew where I needed to get my rate up to, during the runs, and then after the walks, I found I had perhaps almost a 2 minute window where I could get good speed without a higher HR because of the rest. I start the tens and ones, immediately. Although, I find they are a 10 and 1, and after that it becomes running 9 and walking 1, because the alarm goes off every 10 minutes. It is a great psychological break, too. I take my water at these walk breaks, and then have them refill the bottle I bring, so I am never deprived if I need it.

Good luck to you!!

cherl said...

Wanted to post back real quick... I decided not to employ the run-walk strategy afterall. Since it wasn't really tested, I was afraid of the unknown and was really afraid the walk breaks would become longer and my running would become less. I also feared that later in the race I wouldn't be able to "pick it up and run" as easily.
So instead, I decided to run and to start very slowly. My first miles were at a 9:15 pace -- normally I would be at an 8:30 or less right out of the gate. This slow, steady start gave way to a slightly faster pace that I was able to maintain for a good portion of the race. The slower start and keeping it slower overall was key for me. :)

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