Galloway: Evil Genius or Just Plain Evil?

Posted by Filed Under: Training

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?

jeff1.jpgJeff 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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 What?

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.

About Jeanne

Cocky, headstrong, and genetically insecure, Jeanne is known by her friends as the Tall One. Whether its running a marathon, or ringing bells in choir, this love-able rapscallion finds ways of landing in all kinds zany, madcap adventures. You can find Jeanne musing about life, running, bell ringing, and other things at her favorite hangout, Not Born to Run. When not regaling her public with tales from the trails, Jeanne works as a Web editor for a national newspaper. She is also a freelance writer. Jeanne lives in the leafy suburb of Bethesda, Md., just outside the Beltway.

  1. jank on September 26th at 7:55 am

    Jeanne – right on! Galloway is phenomenal for getting people out the door and meeting goals. For which he needs to be congratulated.

    Amen to the big tent, amen to the runners are runners. During my long-ish run on Sunday, I passed a huge guy chuffing along around the block. Gave him a wave and a huge smile – he’s out there which is enough to make him a runner in my book. He waved back, and his eyes brightened a bit as they came off of the pavement to see a smile on my face.

  2. Mark Iocchelli on September 26th at 8:38 am

    I think Galloway’s method definitely has value. It’s how I learned how to run long distances. That said, I weaned myself from the run/walk thing during training for my last couple of marathons.

    He is for sure responsible for getting alot more people out the door than most other running “gurus”.

  3. Donald on September 26th at 1:15 pm

    What I don’t like about Galloway is that he claims this method works for all caliber runners, even world-class. It’s pretty much a misrepresentation that doesn’t really pan out. When Galloway was racing, he was as hardcore as they came – VERY high mileage weeks, lots of speed training, etc. He’s great for beginners, though.

    The comparison to Galway? Inspired.

  4. Mark Iocchelli on September 26th at 2:28 pm

    I agree with you, Donald. There is one post on the coolrunning link Jeanne provided that really well explains the impossibility for run/walk to work at the very elite levels.

  5. DREW on September 26th at 4:43 pm

    I’ve struggled lately with the whole concept of what makes a runner and whether or not “ANYONE who wants to call himself or herself a runner” should be seriously considered as such. I somehow want to be able to seperate myself from others who are less committed to the sport, but the more I consider it, the more convinced I am that it really doesn’t matter. For every “jogger” or “gallowalker” out there that calls himself or herself a runner, there are probably faster more dedicated runners than myself who might laugh at my mileage per week and pace. It really is about moving beyond your comfort level and getting out the door. It’s about starting, wherever you might be, and pushing yourself forward until you reach your goal.

    Thanks for a great article from your perspective!

  6. Blaine Moore (Run to Win) on September 26th at 7:46 pm

    Drew, “the difference between a runner and a jogger is an entry blank.” (Per Dr. George Sheehan)

    I was listening to the phedippidations podcast some months ago, and Steve (the host) spent about 20 minutes trying to define a runner, eventually settling on the official definition from the baseball (MLB) rulebook. You can listen to the episode by going to and downloading episode 14 from last October.

    Baseball rulebook defines it as, “A RUNNER is an offensive player who is advancing toward, or touching, or returning to any base.”

    I figure Sheehan said it best, and (except for race walkers and jogglers which have their own sports) I don’t differentiate in any other way.

  7. Karen in Calgary on September 27th at 9:22 am

    “Keep your eyes on your own paper” – I like that. I learned to run my first 10k by initially taking walk breaks and then shrinking and eliminating them. I did my first marathon almost entirely with 10/1s, which I called “drink breaks”. Walk breaks are good, skipping walk breaks are good.

    Right now, I’m mostly walking with outbreaks of running (to heal an injury). I am an experiment of one, and hopefully over time will keep on experimenting with both methods.