Mention the name “Galloway” in a room full of runners and you’re bound to get a range of reactions.
So, who is this person Galloway and why should you care?
Jeff Galloway (not to be confused with this guy) is an Olympian (1972), set a world record in a 10-mile race (1973), won the first marathon he competed in (the first Atlanta Marathon), is a veteran marathon runner, who in the mid-70’s changed the world of marathoning forever with his with now well-known, if not necessarily universally-respected, run/walk method.
Galloway posits that you can go farther faster by going slower. To be more precise, by inserting regular walk breaks into your running, you’ll end up staying fresher and stronger, longer. Galloway regularly cites marathon runners who have used his method-to win.
So, Does It Work?
But enough about him, let’s get back to me. I actually used this method, so I have a few things to say about it.
- It will get you across the finish line. I completed my first marathon in October 2005, having trained with the National HIV/AIDS Marathon Training program (yes, one of those charity programs; but I’ll save that for another post) for the preceding six months. I had no previous running experience. The orientation promised that “anyone can complete a marathon” with just one Saturday long run and two 30-minute runs a week. I dutifully followed the schedule. I was on a 3-minute run/1-minute walk ratio. During the week, I gradually built up to running straight for 30 minutes. I trained long and hard in the humid Washington, D.C., summer. And I finished the marathon—in six and a half hours.
- Run/walk is just as hard as running, maybe harder. It’s almost been a year since my first marathon. And I’ve been running since then. Running, not run/walking. Some people can follow a run/walk schedule and still clock an impressive pace. I’ve seen them do it. I was not one of those people. That meant my long runs were really, really long runs. And my marathon time was equivalent to the finish times of some ultra-runners. That also meant that hydration and nutrition became even more important because I was out on the course for so long. This year, my long runs are still long, but they are definitely easier (and I use the word loosely). I’ve trained harder and smarter and have put in a boatload more miles. So long runs are still hard, but they don’t leave me incapacitated for days.
- Moving from run/walk to running is really, really hard. When I made the decision that, once and for all, I was going to learn to run or die trying, every training run became an exercise in mental gymnastics to keep myself from walking. Often, it wasn’t that I even felt the need to walk; it was just ingrained in me that I could or that I should. I still fight that battle, even when there is no obvious physical need. It can be disheartening, and when I give in, I feel like I’m giving up for no good reason.
- Run/walk didn’t teach me to run. It taught me to run/walk. Obvious, huh? I was blissfully, totally ignorant that there was any controversy surrounding this method or that run/walkers were in any way disdained or looked down upon. Until I one day stumbled across these discussion boards. Talk about sewing seeds of doubt. I had a major loss of self-confidence after reading the vitriol there. I had to run/walk away from them. It was there I learned that “gallowalk” was a pejorative term. That I could not claim to have “run” the Marine Corps Marathon. That me and my charity minions were bolloxing up the works for the real runners and we needed to get the hell out of the way.
- Run/walk didn’t teach me to run, but it made me want to learn how. If I hadn’t gone through that program, I would never in my wildest dreams, have thought myself capable of running. And never, in my wildest dreams thought I’d ever run a 5k, a 10K, a 10-miler, a 20K and a 20-mile training run—all of which I did this year. Would I have had the guts to sign up for a learn-to-run class a year ago? Nope, probably not. But I was ready to learn to run/walk. And then run/walking gave me the desire to learn to run.
- I didn’t run the Marine Corps Marathon; I ran/walked it. All the way to the finish. Do I deserve a medal for that? The Marines thought so.
So nothing. If you’re expecting me to diss Galloway or “gallowwalking,” I’m sorry to disappoint you. It had its flaws for me. I didn’t learn to run from training this way. I was way slower than I wanted to be. During my run/walk training, a chip was apparently inserted into my brain that periodically shouts “just walk, already!” I blame Galloway for that. But the method introduced me to running. Or more specifically, to wanting to run. I blame Galloway for that, too.
So is there where I take a stand and say thumbs up or thumbs down to Galloway and his ilk? Or, is this where I take the easy way out?
The Galloway method worked for me—to a point. Ultimately though, as my goals changed, it didn’t suit my needs.
But it’s a great big world out there. As a manager, from time to time I have to remind my employees to “Keep your eyes on your own paper.” In other words, do not compare yourself to your colleagues and what they are getting in terms of perks or pay. If you believe you are underpaid or overworked, let me know about it rather than sit and stew. Because chances are, you do not have all the facts.
And how, Jeanne is this little story about your superior management skills related to Galloway and running? Well, I apply the same rule to running: Keep your eyes on your own paper. Set your own goals for yourself, and stop worrying about what anyone else is doing. This running community is a big tent. Entry is open for anyone who wants to call himself or herself a runner.