Check out this month's Colorado Runner Magazine, featuring a great shot of some speedy F4 women racing in Moab last month...
Thanks to Coach Scott G. for submitting this photo to Colorado Runner Magazine to help them illustrate how much fun it is to be a part of a Club/ Team/ Training Program like FastForward Sports. Way to rip up the Canyonlands course AND for lookin' good for the camera... (l to r) Kristi, Deanna, some lucky dude, Mary, and Marci.
Recently, world-class running coach, and FastForward Tech Adviser, Bobby McGee joined us for a workout and then afterward presented some VERY compelling reasons for us to add the Run/ Walk Method to our bag of tricks for training and racing this season.
The Run/Walk Method by Bobby McGee
Using the run walk method is one more tool that the runner can use to improve performance. Once you can overcome the embarrassment that some may experience when they 1st try this approach to their running the health & performance benefits are astounding.
A simple example – a professionalthat I coach has dropped his zone 2 run pace from 7:52 at sea level to 6:47 at altitude & this with a 9:30 run/30sec walk interval!
This run/walk approach designed by Olympian Jeff Galloway is for you if you have experienced being passed by a run/walker walking faster up a hill than you are running!
·Much easier to tolerate heat when using the R/W approach
·Speed – you will go faster overall in training & racing
·Heart rate – it is easier to keep the overall heart rate down
·Volume – increasing your mileage becomes easier & safe
·You will experience accelerated recovery from workouts
·Fat (Visceral & other) is easier to lose than with straight running (lower intensity/HR & more core/abdominal support work)
·Mental –it’s easy to run for 10 minutes! Passing people in their droves in the last 3rd of a race is always nice
·Plateaus – it is very easy to get stuck in the grey zone & not improve, walking helps the runner break through to the next level
·Frequency – the secret to becoming an efficient runner is to habituate correct neuro-muscular form. The RW method helps you learn more quickly as there is less break down due to fatigue & more frequent opportunities to “start again”. This method also allows you to run more frequently, as you are less sore after runs interspersed with walking than you would be after simply running the same distance
·Even Pace is the key to getting the most out of your physiology & fitness on race day. By using the RW you are able to govern & control your pace better & repair the costs of any pacing errors you may have made early on; especially at altitude!
FINDING WHAT WORKS FOR YOU
The idea is to find the pattern which allows you to run the distance required the fastest. So a beginner may require 1min run/1 min walk to reach the finish at best pace – an alternative for the beginner may be; run as far as possible & then walk it in, a much slower alternative it would seem.
Run far enough to optimize your ability – typically somewhere between 5 & 10 minutes
Use shorter intervals the longer you go – e.g. For an easy 40min run you may go 10min run, 15-60sec walk & for a long run you may go 6min run, 1min walk
For shorter races, speed is the governing factor. Most runners lose 15 – 20sec per mile on a 10min run/1min walk interval. So determining how fast you can run on this interval vs. continuous running is a matter of individual experimentation. The stronger/more powerful athlete &/or the heavier runner may find they can easily run fast enough to overcome the time loss & recover on the walk interval & so post a faster time overall. The high endurance/lower power athlete may find they cannot produce the speed, but they can maintain a given speed for longer; this athlete may run the entire short race. The bottom line however is: the lower average overall heart rate & the less steeply it climbs the greater the likelihood of a superior performance. So you can go as lean as 10min run, 15sec walk in the shorter races.
For longer races: Ah now this is a lot simpler – the RW method keeps the rate of HR increase (cardiac drift) & the overall HR lower & therefore the chances of the almost limitless fuel source – fat, being used is highest, especially in those that have trained their bodies to utilize fat, by training this way & ingesting higher good fat sources versus somewhat lower intakes of carbohydrates – especially high glycemic index ones. Add to this that heat, humidity, hilly or windy courses are better managed with the RW because it helps manage peripheral (leg muscle) fatigue far better. Thus a RW interval of something like 6/1 becomes a great option. Take a test run & see which works best for you.
At altitude most runners are NOT able to run at zone 1 & 2, it is simply too demanding on the system & thus many runners end up doing most of their easy training in the grey zone. This leads to injury, delayed recovery & definitely retarded fitness gains. A simple way to overcome this problem is to walk & use the run/walk method. By doing “runs” that need to be zone 1 & 2 as walks you expand your base training & prepare yourself to be able to run higher levels & volumes of quality.
Determining where to start with the walk run method would depend on your current level and volume of run conditioning. I generally subscribe the following guidelines: · If you run regularly (4+ X per week), then use for runs longer than 35 to 45:00 · For experienced runners I would suggest breaking up long runs & tempo runs (the latter defined as half marathon to marathon pace/effort) · The basic model I use is 10:00 of running & 1:00 of walking, but I easily adapt this to suit the athlete’s capabilities. The following ranges are what I recommend from easiest to most skilled: 1. Phase 1: Beginner: This assumes no running at all prior to this. 1:00 run, 1:00 walk, build rapidly (weekly) to 5:00 run, 1:00 walk. 2. Phase II: This assumes low running volume (fewer than 4 runs per week) & looking to build volume. Add 10 – 15% to all runs weekly, but break runs up into 6 to 10:00 sections, with a 1:00 walk. If using 10% increases, then move closer to 10:00 run, 1:00 walk, if increasing by 15%, then stay closer to 6:00 run, 1:00 walk 3. Phase III: This assumes advanced runner looking to increase both volume in long runs & speed in quality workouts. Have the basis be 10:00 run, 1:00 walk & build from there. I have had runners break runs into sections as large as 30:00, but sometimes find that on chunks larger than 15:00 some athletes have a hard time starting the run again. In the majority of athletes this is easily rectified by ensuring that the walk stride rate stays high (rather shorter steps & high cadence), that the walk is brisk with a purpose to covering ground, rather than thinking, “ah, rest”! Also ensure that the arms are kept in running mode—allowing the arms to drop down, slows the stride rate, increases the stride length, which in turn leads to “switching off” & the lengthened levers put the core, pelvis & hamstrings under increased stress. By following these guidelines the runner stays facilitated & easily restarts the next section with renewed vigor. 4. Threshold Workouts: I usually break these up into fixed times or distances any way. I design these around a total volume of 30 to 40:00. I find that longer walks here ensure a more rapid progression, i.e. velocity at the same heart rate increases fastest when longer rest periods are incorporated. Sample workout would be 3X1.5 mile at LT (heart rate or pace, depending on the phase of training) with a 5:00 walk between each. If the athlete does not have the speed, for example, to complete the quality sections in under 40:00, or is fast enough that the quality work is less than 30:00, then I would either break it up into time sections for the beginner, like 3X10:00, or lengthen the reps for the advanced, speedier runner, like 3X2.2 miles. 5. Tempo Workouts: Here the workout goal would be determined by considering specific event requirements. In the earlier part of this preparation phase I emphasize time sections at a specific heart rate, e.g. for half marathon run 4X15:00 at ½ marathon heart rate, with a 2:00 walk between each. Then in the latter part of the final preparation phase I’d have the same athlete run 3X5km at goal ½ marathon pace with a 2-3:00 walk break between each. I suggest a similar approach to marathon pace tempo runs. With the marathon I generally keep total volumes below & up to 15 miles (25km). 6. Long Runs: The purpose of long runs is to develop muscle endurance & train the body’s ability to metabolize lipids as a fuel source. A coach can objectively measure increases in vascularity in long runs by observing the athletes decoupling rates, (i.e. when pace slows, while HR remains constant). The basic idea is to be able to increase long run pace while maintaining predetermined sub AeT (aerobic threshold) heart rates. This is by far the most effective way to improve through using the walk/run methodology. I find best results when I keep the ratio at 10:00 run, but move the 1:00 walk down as the athlete improves (by 5 to 10sec per jump) until a minimum walk period of 15sec. Gordo Note: "10:1 worked really well for me. I tried 11:15/0:45 and that really increased the demands of the session. For now, 35-40s seems to be "about right" for getting the reset that Bobby talks about". 7. Racing: For runners who run the marathon in slower than 2:30 (at least sub 3:00) I strongly recommend racing the walk/run method during racing as well. Sub 2:30 marathons have been achieved by runners in this fashion. This implies that if you are going to race this way, train this way. However, for the runner who wishes to run considerably faster & is able to run sub 2:30, I would still use this approach on the majority of occasions, but there would have to be long runs & tempo runs that are continuous running.
ADVANTAGES OF THE METHOD:
1. Increased volume (per workout & per week/phase)
2. Reduced recovery time
3. Mentally easier to train & race
4. Faster in the majority of cases
5. Improved lipid metabolism
6. Increased functional leg strength
So what’s not to like?
"I noted #1 to #4 very quickly in my own training. The hardest part is the humility required to walk!
I love the run/walk technique! I love that it works for beginners to elite-level athletes.
Good points & info in this post. A big thing for me/friends is not equating the walk time with "ah rest" as you said. I have to keep my cadence up & my arms in running mode vs. "shake it out" mode.
F4 Athletes were racing all over Colorado and the U.S. this weekend... getting fitter and smarter as many "A" races are coming soon!
A few thoughts on how best to process post "practice" race results from F4 Head Coach Scott Fliegelman:
Whether you were thrilled with your results or perhaps a bit disappointed, the plan going forward is exactly the same... Continue to take your training one day at a time and plan to do your very best to complete each workout as ‘accurately’ as possible, based on your personal zones. Now is not the time to ‘push a little harder’, or ‘sneak in a few extra workouts’, as endurance training simply does not reward this type of thinking and there are NO SHORTCUTS.
Secondly, what can be learned from these “practice” race experiences? As I ran in yesterday’s Earth Day 5K, I can surely say that knowing how your body is supposed to feel at different points in the race can be a huge advantage. Many may’ve felt that they “went out too hard”, which was quite likely given the downhill/ downwind first mile, and the fact that the first mile mile marker was surely placed too soon. As an experienced 5K racer, I sensed that the pace was a little too quick after only about 1/4 mile, and eased back a bit allowing many to pass by. When I reached the first mile marker “too fast”, I knew that I had made the proper correction earlier, and guessed the marker was misplaced. Either way, I knew that I felt much more comfortable running 5-10 sec./ mile slower than how I’d started and settled in at this pace focusing on good, efficient form, and looking to “borrow” a few other runners to help block the wind when needed:)
By mid-race, many who’d stuck with the too-fast pace started to come back to me, as their fatigue began to affect their form. Interestingly, afterwards one of those racers asked me if my plan was to start out easy and then “surge” at mile two, but in reality I simply maintained the correct pace/ effort, while that runner was slowing considerably as the race went on. Surely, over the last mile I began to feel rather uncomfortable, but I knew that those were the exact sensations I wanted to feel in order to maximize my performance on the day, and that within a few minutes they’d be replaced with elation and pride in my ability to keep my “foot on the floor” despite the overwhelming desire to let up just a little bit. Once again, it is hard to do these things when not in a race environment, so we’ll continue to offer workouts that have a race “feel”, as well as some additional practice races before Bolder Boulder.
Feel free to chat with your Coach and share more from your recent ‘practice’ race experience!
This semi-annual event, held in Boulder in the spring and Denver in the summer, is designed to reveal current fitness and guide upcoming workouts by providing athletes four customized training zones. Congrats to all Racers Results Available Here