Our training program features a low-mileage, run/walk approach to marathon and half marathon training. This means that you will alternate intervals of running with shorter intervals of walking called “walk breaks,” depending on your running pace (e.g., walk 2 minutes, run 1 minute). This has been proven to increase speed, endurance, and recovery and reduce the rate of injuries dramatically.
If you are a walker, the following section applies to runners only. Just skip down to the Weekly Training Plans section.
Using “Walk-Breaks” in Your Training
The Time Benefit
Most runners will record significantly faster times when they take walk breaks because they don’t slow down at the end of a long run. Thousands of time-goal-oriented veterans have improved by 10, 20, 30 minutes and more in marathons by taking walk breaks early and often in their goal races. You can easily spot these folks. They’re the ones who are picking up speed during the last two to six miles when everyone else is slowing down.
The Mental Benefit
When you break 26 miles or 13 miles into segments it seems much more manageable. Even sub-three hour marathoners continue to take their walk breaks to the end. One of them explained it this way: “Instead of thinking at 20 miles that I had a long six more miles to go, I was saying to myself, ’One more mile until my break.’ Even when it was tough, I always felt I could go one more mile.”
Walk breaks: how long and how often?
A minimum suggestion for first time marathoners/half-marathoners is one minute of walking for every 3-4 minutes of running. Find your pace below to know what your run/walk ratio should be.
We suggest getting a watch with an interval timer on it to help you keep time.
Guidelines for Run/Walk Ratio Based on Pace
8 min/mi—4 min run/ 35 sec walk
9 min/mi—4 min run/ 1 min walk
10 min/mi—3 min run/ 1 min walk
11 min/mi—2:30 run/ 1 min walk
12 min/mi—2 run / 1 min walk
13 min/mi—1 min run/ 1 min walk
14 min/mi—30 sec run / 30 sec walk
15 min/mi—30 sec run / 45 sec walk
16 min/mi—30 sec run / 60 sec walk
Your pace is the average time it takes you to comfortably complete a mile over several miles. To learn how to determine your pace, click here.