How to Use the Run / Walk Method for Long Runs

How to Use the Run / Walk Method for Long Runs

As I was getting ready for my long run early this morning I thought about my go-to tricks for long training runs. I needed to keep a few of my tried and true tricks handy because last week’s long run was rough. I ended up cutting it a few miles short because I felt tired, thirsty, bored and I felt like I’d hit a wall towards the end.

Marathon Training Secret 3Marathon Training Secret 3

I did NOT want that to happen again. I couldn’t let it happen again. Yes, I think missing a run due to travel, illness, etc. happens to most runners during a 12 week (or longer) half or full marathon training plan. It’s not a big deal as long as you stay on track moving forward.

And cutting a run short or doing an easier run than planned also happens to most runners over the course of a training schedule. It’s important to listen to your body and take it easy as needed. (I’m talking about mental and physical fatigue. If something hurts – don’t run.)

But the secret to half / full marathon training success is to learn from your bad runs. Don’t just go home and get mad at yourself or feel discouraged. That won’t help you.

After a hard run – put detailed notes in your Running Log with any relevant information. Relevant information may include (but is not limited to)…

Note in Your Run Log:

  1. The Planned Run & What You Did
  2. How you felt physically – any pain? fatigue? soreness? imbalance?
  3. How you felt mentally – what was going on in your mind leading up to the bad run?
  4. What you ate & drank before
  5. What you ate & drank during
  6. Weather, Course, Gear, Time, etc.
  7. Why the run was good/bad/other? – share any and all thoughts, this is your private run log and random things may help you assess the situation later.

*Scroll to the bottom of this post if you need a Running Log! I’ll send you a free printable one to start using now.*

Last week I think my long run was hard for a few reasons that combined to make it extra rough. First, it was HOT and I didn’t start drinking early enough during the run. I planned on drinking from my water bottle at my car at mile 5 and mile 10 – but that wasn’t enough on a hot day. I also didn’t start eating early enough in the run. I brought my fuel with me but was hoping to eat it when I saw a water fountain for a quick sip. I thought my planned route had water fountains, but – nope.

Second, I got bored – I was listening to a book that I expected to be good, but was meh. I kept waiting for it to get interesting and distract me – it never happened. I always have a few podcasts I’m super into and can switch to those if I get tired of a book – except for this time! So, I didn’t have a quick fix for this during the run.

The hot weather, hydration fail and boredom combined so the second time I passed by my car for water – I decided to just call it a day. If I’d been enjoying a good book or podcast I could have made myself keep going. If I felt great physically I could have made myself keep going. But being both mentally and physically tired was enough to stop me.

Since one secret to marathon training is to learn from the bad runs – I had the opportunity to learn from that long run and do better this time.  It was a fuel/hydration failure and a mental training failure, so I needed to address both.

I was just about to walk out the door when I thought, ‘I need to make sure I start fueling earlier – I have to remind myself’… and I remembered how my friend Coach Steve used to set an alarm to beep every 15 minutes to remind his runners to drink or eat on long runs.

How To Run Walk for Long Runs How To Run Walk for Long Runs

So, I decided to set my running watch to Run/Walk Intervals so it’s easier to drink or eat something during a walking interval. Since I don’t use this method right now it made the run more interesting and encouraging – which was a great for fighting mental fatigue. It was fun to count down the intervals instead of just checking to see miles.

Note: My Run/Walk interval times are NOT the usual recommended lengths. If you are a new or returning runner check out this post for How to Do the Run/Walk Method 

The Run/Walk Method can be personalized for different runners. Many advanced Run/Walk plans keep the walking breaks to 30 seconds. I’ve heard more is too much and less isn’t enough to get the full benefits. I decided to stick with 30 second walk breaks and make my running time 8 minutes and 30 seconds.

Again, I was getting ready to start my long run it was very early in the morning when I decided to do this. In order for my watch to indicate the intervals I had to plug it into my computer to set it up (there may be a way to do it straight on the watch, but I don’t know how and it would’ve taken longer).

I didn’t think this out enough and would do it a little different next time AND I should’ve done one more interval because my long run did fall a little short on accident (I had to guess the distance based on time).

Tip: If you’re using this method for long runs only I’d incorporate 30-60 seconds of walking every 10 minutes or 1 mile, depending on your pace and preference. 

Example: 10 minutes Run / 30 seconds Walk – Repeat to complete the distance on your plan.

The 30 seconds of walking go by fast – especially if you use that time to drink or eat. By the time I pulled my chews out of my running belt and put it in my mouth it was time to run again. So, if you need more time to drink/eat I’d go up to 60 seconds of walking.

The Run/Walk Long Run Results:

The moral of this long (run) story: It went great! I felt so much better towards the end of the run. I thought the walking breaks would be tedious and mess up my flow, but they didn’t. It helped remind me to drink/eat.

I skipped the first few walking breaks because I wanted to get into the zone. That is NOT something the true Run/Walk method would approve of because the point isn’t to try and avoid walking breaks, the point is to take small timed breaks from the beginning so you don’t walk the entire second half of your run (or quit or feel like crap). But, I was mainly trying it to help me fuel better and make it a little more interesting.

I might do this for all my long runs now. I still want to get my speed back and taking walking breaks seems counterintuitive to getting faster. But, I also need to build up my endurance for the upcoming half marathons and full marathons I have on the schedule. Plus, the Dopey Challenge is the ultimate endurance race series!!

I’ll probably use the Run/Walk method for long runs and keep the rest of my training plan the same. I have a lot of speed runs, tempo runs, strides on my current training plan that don’t work with this method (and are meant to help me run faster). I’m just going to roll with it.

Post Run Eats and Diego

Post Run I did my usual (or new usual) nutrition right after – iced coffee with collagen and a recovery smoothie. I made smoothie packs the other day and used one of those.

How To Run Walk for Long Runs How To Run Walk for Long Runs

Later I had chocolate cake. It looks better than it tasted. The milk chocolate on the top is mousse and I’m more of a cake girl. I know some people love frosting. Well, I love the CAKE and this was all frosting and not enough cake.

How To Run Walk for Long RunsHow To Run Walk for Long Runs

And I saved the best for last…

Here’s a pic of Diego because it’s important. He lerbs everyone.

How To Run Walk for Long Runs How To Run Walk for Long Runs

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