Run/Walk Ratio

If you’re training for a race using Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run method, you might be wondering what run/walk ratio will get you to your goal pace on race day. The truth is, it works the other way around: your goal pace should determine your run/walk ratio. Of course, there are other factors to consider, but let’s look at an example to see how it works.

Your Magic Mile Determines Your Run/Walk Ratio

First, start with a Magic Mile (MM). If your MM is around 8:20, your predicted pace per mile for a half-marathon is 10:00 (notwithstanding weather conditions, hilly courses, illness, nutrition issues, etc.). If your MM is significantly slower than that, no run/walk strategy is going to make you faster overnight. You need to put in the long runs, tempo runs, speed work, and drill runs to get in faster shape. Test yourself with a new MM every month or 6 weeks until you see a time that puts your prediction close to your goal. Doing this will help you assess your progress and set new goals!

Setting your goal pace for the race is the first step to nailing your workout paces and choosing the right ratios. This 10:00/mi pace will be used for Tempo Runs, which Jeff calls Race Rehearsals.

After a gentle warm-up, ramp up to race pace using a run/walk ratio that allows you to recover during the walks and avoid huffing and puffing during the runs. The chart on the MM page referenced below suggests 90 sec run/30 sec walk (90/30), 60 sec run/30 sec walk (60/30), and a few other options.

The 90/30 option is neither better nor more advanced than the 60/30 option just because there is more running between walk breaks. Choosing 90/30 just means you will be running a bit slower between walk breaks but taking them less often. Choosing 60/30 means you will be running a bit faster between walk breaks but taking them more often. One choice will feel better to some people while the other choice will feel better to others. It’s important to try out both options, as well as any others that you think might work for you. Each week throughout training, try out a new option until you find the one you think works for that pace. Then use that tried and true run/walk strategy in the race itself.

Can I Change Up the Run/Walk Ratio To Go Faster?

“So, if I want to go faster in the race, can I just change up the ratio a bit?” I hear you ask. Well, unfortunately changing the ratio on race day won’t necessarily change the kind of shape you’re in. Your overall shape and fitness, based on the training you’ve done, is what determines how fast you can go on race day.

Long Run and Speed Work Paces

There are a few other things to keep in mind when you’re training for your race. Your long run pace should be 2 minutes per mile slower than your predicted race pace, and your speed work pace should be 30 seconds per mile faster. Each of these paces has its own recommended run/walk strategy (check out that MM chart!), so experiment to see what feels best for each one.

Length of Walk Breaks and Adjusting for Heat

The last two things to keep in mind are the length of the walk break and adjusting for heat.

Jeff Galloway’s research and experience coaching and advising almost half a million runners over his career led him to revise his run/walk strategy recommendations in 2015, standardizing the walk breaks for most runners at 30 seconds. Except in the case of those doing more walking than running, walk breaks longer than 30 seconds actually appeared to slow runners down toward the end of long runs, not as much as running without walk breaks would have, but enough that limiting the walk to 30 seconds and finding the right run segment that feels comfortable are the current recommendations. As for adjusting for heat, all run times, be they long runs or tempo runs, should be adjusted 30 seconds slower for every 5 degrees F above 60F. Ignoring this “Hot Weather Slowdown” advice poses serious health risks.

Bottom Line – Your Pace Determines Your Run/Walk Ratio

The bottom line is that it’s all about that pace. Pick a pace that your Magic Mile and the weather conditions tell you is right for you, and then choose a run/walk ratio that feels good with that pace. And remember to smile. If you aren’t smiling when you run, at least on the inside, you’re doing it wrong.

Recommended Run/Walk Ratio Strategies:

Pace/mi Run Walk
7:00 = 6 min 30 sec (or run a mile/walk 40 seconds)
7:30 = 5 min 30 sec
8:00 = 4 min 30 sec (or 2/15)
8:30 = 3 min 30 sec (or 2/20)
9:00 = 2 min 30 sec or 80/20
9:30-10:45 = 90/30 or 60/20 or 45/15 or 60/30 or 40/20
10:45-12:15 = 60/30 or 40/20 or 30/15 or 30/30 or 20/20
12:15-14:30 = 30/30 or 20/20 or 15/15
14:30-15:45 = 15/30
15:45-17:00 = 10/30
17:00-18:30 = 8/30 or 5/25 or 10/30
18:30-20:00 = 5/30 or 5/25 or 4/30