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Beginner’s Luck: If You Can’t Run, Then Run-Walk

Walking in a race will slow you down, right? Not necessarily.

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Walking in a race will slow you down, right? Not necessarily. “Beginner’s Luck” columnist Meredith Atwood writes about the power of Jeff Galloway’s run-walk method. 

I had the honor to sit down with the legendary Jeff Galloway for a recent podcast interview. Jeff came to the sport of running in eighth grade “because he had to” in school. Turns out that this “fat, lazy kid” ended up becoming an Olympian and hero in our running world with his amazing “Galloway Method.” It is a precise methodology that incorporates planned and timed walk breaks into running in order to increase overall speed, distance and—most importantly of all—the ability to train faster and farther with fewer injuries.

One of the things that Jeff discuss in the interview was the difference between “Monkey Brain” and “Human Brain”—which he also discusses in his book, Mental Training for Runners. The key to making the biggest gains in running is not only getting to race day healthy, trained and free of injury, but also harnessing the mental aspect of running. By learning to use our “Human Brain” to control our “Monkey Brain” (which as you might surmise is the subconscious brain), we grow as athletes. Interestingly one of the most methodical ways to control this subconscious brain that might be screaming things like “stop running!” and “you are slow” and “this is painful” and “you’ll never finish” is to pick a pace that we can run and then pick a logical pace that we can walk. When these are combined using the protocols with the “Magic Mile” and Galloway’s other methods, we set ourselves up for using the Human Brain to control our runs.

“Here’s the thing,” says Galloway, “The Monkey Brain will produce certain thoughts and emotions under stress—those thoughts will trigger the negative thoughts and actions that can really get in the way of our progress as runners, especially beginners.”

My first dip into the Galloway method was at Ironman Louisville in 2015. I used the method as a Hail Mary for my race, having crashed my bike and been involved in a car crash which seriously impeded the final weeks of peak training. Using Galloway’s method, I ran 3:1 run/walk intervals, taking me straight to a marathon PR in the race. (Note: I am not a fast runner, but a 13:28 pace is where I ended up in the marathon for the Ironman race.)

Since opening Phidippides, his running store in Atlanta, Ga., in 1975 Jeff has been on a mission to help runners across the world. The students in the Galloway run-walk programs report incredible low injury rates (in Jeff’s words—“almost 0 percent”) and increases in speeds.

Are you a hardcore continuous runner and shaking your head at the run-walk?

Well, think again. Galloway’s students and methods boast an average improvement in their half marathon of 6 minutes and 13 minutes faster in a marathon using the Galloway method. Compare those non-stop runners in the same events, who tend to slow down 5-12 minutes in a half and 10-20 minutes in a full. Also, Galloway set his 2:16 marathon PR taking walk breaks. How’s that for some Human Brain food?

Do you rely on the run-walk method? Tweet us at @Swimbikemom and @Triathletemag and tell us about it!

Check out the full interview with Jeff Galloway on The Same 24 Hours Podcast, Episode 18, “Jeff Galloway: Running and Walking and Running,” available on iTunes, Stitcher and Podbean. Learn more about Jeff Galloway and the Galloway Method at

Meredith Atwood (@SwimBikeMom) is a recovering attorney, writer, motivational speaker and author of Triathlon for the Every Woman. Meredith has teamed up with amazing experts to bring programs from peak performance to nutrition to her own sobriety group to her social following. She lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children, and writes about all things at