Taking walk breaks mid-run can be a great thing. You may even be able to cover a longer distance, in a shorter amount of time with walk breaks than without them.
However, that’s a big “may”. If you started running using a run-walk method, such as Jeff Galloway’s popular training approach, you may wonder, “Could I be faster if I didn’t take walk breaks?”
Again, that’s a big maybe. Some people are faster without walk breaks, while others do better with them. But you’ll never know unless you try.
Cutting out walk breaks takes patience. When you’re used to taking walk breaks, it takes time to get used to running without them. Don’t just go out for a run one day and try to run the whole distance without walking. Instead, follow these steps to eliminate walk breaks from your runs:
- Slow down the pace. Backing off your running pace will help conserve energy. Walking gives your body a break so you’re able to cover a longer distance before fatiguing. Slowing down your running pace does the same thing, and this approach will help you ease into running without walk breaks. In time, you’ll be able to pick up the pace again.
- Shorten the length of your walk breaks. If you take one-minute long walk breaks, try 45- or 30-second walk breaks instead and see how you fair. If the run felt too hard, lengthen the duration of your walk breaks – if it felt too easy, do the reverse. Eventually, your walk breaks will be so short that you’ll be able to stop taking them all together.
- Reduce the number of walk breaks you take on a run. Once you’re used to taking shorter walk breaks, try to cut back on how often you take them. If you’re currently doing a 3:1 ratio (three minutes of running then one minute of walking), try a 4:1 ratio instead. After you’ve done that for awhile, go up to a 5:1 ratio, then a 6:1 ratio, and so on. Soon you’ll be able to run a mile without a walk break, then two, then three, etc.
- Cover a shorter distance. If you’ve done longer races, like a half marathon, using a walk/run method, you’re likely used to doing long runs on the weekends. Forget about running long for some time. Once you’re able to run 3 miles straight, increase your distance gradually – like you’re learning to run long for the first time again – so you don’t get hurt.
- Focus more on recovery. By taking walk breaks, we reduce muscle damage and prevent injuries because the body gets a chance to recover mid-run. But when you just run your body doesn’t get that break. So, it’s important to focus on recovery between runs. Take plenty of rest days and skip runs when you’re feeling extra sore or tired.