Why everyone is using this running coach
Jeff Galloway's run-walk-run method has been taught to more than 1 million people around the world. Will you be next?
The next time you see a marathon runner slow down, it may not be because they're tired. They may just be using the tried and tested run-walk-run method.
The logic behind it is simple: Running for a long time will eventually lead to fatigue. This form of interval training - where you switch from running to walking every minute or so – conserves resources and helps prevent injuries. And since it allows you to run further distances without getting winded, it motivates beginners to get off of the couch and run.
The method is the brainchild of Jeff Galloway, a former U.S. Olympian who now manages a running empire from his Atlanta headquarters. Run-walk-run is one of just several techniques he teaches at seminars that have attracted an estimated million people over the years. There are Galloway running clubs across the globe – including in the U.S., Canada, Italy, China and Germany. He's written several fitness books and writes a regular column for Runners World Magazine. Each day – either via email, phone or in person – he coaches about 100 people.
"There are a host of problems that keep people from enjoying running or reaching their current potential in running," Galloway told From The Grapevine when we interviewed him between coaching calls on a recent afternoon. "The problems are all the way from motivation to get out there, to aches and pains, to pacing yourself correctly, to solving specific problems that come up over and over again."
Gila Alter, a mother of two who was living in California, knew those problems first-hand. She had run three marathons and got injured each time. Seeking a solution, she read one of Galloway's books before her fourth marathon. The advice worked, and she ran injury-free. "I've never looked back since then," she told us during a Skype interview.
Alter, a native of Israel, returned to her home country and launched a Galloway outpost there. Now, according to Alter, "everyone who runs long distance in Israel knows what Galloway running means. And we are growing all the time." The group just ran a half marathon in Tel Aviv and is planning to do one in Vienna next. "We have an advantage in Israel that it's quite close to Europe, so we can travel to nice marathons in Berlin, Rome and Florence."
Galloway's groups around the world stay in touch with headquarters on a regular basis. Alter checks in from Israel on a weekly call.
"What's really nice with Galloway is that it's a different language," Alter told us. "We have visitors from other countries that visit Israel and join us for the run. And immediately, even if they don't speak the language, it's like they understand what we are doing. It's like a dancer who travels, and they understand the language." On the flip side, Alter can join up with groups when she travels, as she did on a recent trip to America where she joined a New York Galloway club for a run. "In one second, we are like old friends," she said. "It's really nice."
As for Galloway himself, who runs about five miles a day, he sees more to running than camaraderie and exercise. "It has been determined now from thousands of studies around the world that running turns on the circuits for a better attitude, for more vitality, and for personal empowerment better than any other activity that's ever been studied."
So when's the best time to run? According to Galloway, procrastinating running to later in the day isn't the smartest idea. "The monkey brain is going to anticipate the build up of stress based on past experience," he said. "If you think about exercising and you're allowing the monkey brain to be in control, then it's going to start secreting anxiety hormones and negative attitude hormones."
He also likes to exercise first thing in the day for another reason. "A run in the morning has been shown to activate the circuit in the brain that helps you control your appetite," he explained.
Galloway doesn't see himself slowing down anytime soon. "I dearly love what I do," he told us. "It is so gratifying to me. I never have a bad day. Out of these 100 runners that I talk with, either in person or via e-mail, almost always there is this statement, 'You have changed my life.' The methods that I have are so easy to understand and so easy to do, that the barriers are broken down and then those brain circuits are turned on."
He pauses before adding: "And it's life changing."
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