February 7, 2011

The Fifteen Five Technique

A Trail of Snow in Chicago
This last weekend I tried a new training technique that should hold some promise for some long races this season.  I was in Chicago for the weekend which is nothing but flat and mostly road/asphalt running (and lots of snow!).  This stuff really tears me up if I'm running anything longer than 2 hours.  Since I needed to get 30 miles in I did a 10 miler on Saturday and a 22.6 miler on Sunday.  

The Primanti Sandwich -- A Pittsburg Favorite
I knew I was going to be on my feet for up to 4 hours on Sunday so I decided to try something different than the typical long grind pavement.  I decided I'd do 15 minute/5 minute run/walk combination the entire time.  I've heard several accounts of ultra runners doing planned walking like this during races with very positive results.       

How did it go?  I think it is something I'll be doing on a regular basis when I'm putting in longer aerobic runs.  There are many benefits to the run/walk approach.  First, I'm able to keep my running form during the entire time.  Turnover, leg lift, and stride, the things that tend to get sloppy on longer runs, are maintained with the run/walk approach.  Another benefit is my average heart rate remained pretty low, 132 bpm, even in during the later miles. 

Another benefit of the run-walk technique is recovery.  Neither during the run nor after did I ever feel the soreness normally associated with running on roads.  My legs grew tired, but not enough to slow my pace or change my form.  Run-recover-run-recover.  Unlike when I finish most long runs, I felt relaxed and ready to keep running.  Relaxed enough to enjoy a Primonti Sandwich and a Guinness before the Superbowl at Dunlay's on the Square! 


LearningByReading said...

I dont think most people realize how mind altering running can be. That is usually reserved for substances right :) When I am despondent running helps me shake the doldrums!

Rachel said...

i've also heard from many runners who have had a lot of success using this approach (or some variation). i'm planning on incorporating walk breaks from the start of my first 50 miler (AR 50) in hopes that i will feel stronger and fresher for longer.

EricG said...

First of all, I see a bloody mary in there too which you forgot to mention. Looks damn good I might add.

Second, I agree with taking planned breaks either timed or at certain landmarks or hills. Most of us walk often during ultras so why not train for that (walking uses different muscles). 100% helps with recovery. Peace EricG

Will Cooper said...

yes, eric, a bloody mary indeed.

Unknown said...

in a way, this is similar to Jeff Galloway's method (Run 8 minutes/Walk 1) which i've used for years for my longer distance training.

I must admit, though, i like the idea of trying this ratio. My only fear is that on a really tough run, i may not have the motivation to start running again at the end of the five minute interval.

Thanks for posting this and your results/opinion.

shannon said...

Great post! I listened to a podcast by Jeff Galloway a few weeks ago, and he was extolling the praises of run/walk too. You have listed several of the benefits that he talked about. Galloway also said the time difference is minimal between runners that run continuously and runners that run/walk. The walk/run decreases fatigue so runners can finish faster and stronger at the finish.

Thanks for the reminder, I'll have to try this. :)