Walk Before You're Tired
In the 1980s, I had the good fortune of living on East 90th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues in New York City, just a few blocks east of Central Park. So it was easy to pop into the park after work and run a few miles. Kicking up the challenge a notch, I joined the New York Road Runners Club and began participating in their shorter races, such as 5Ks and the infamous Bagel and Hot Chocolate Run (carbs and cocoa are always a good incentive for me!). I contemplated training for the New York City Marathon.
By 1990, however, I realized that running had its limits for me. A congenital lack of cartilage in a major joint in my right ankle, diagnosed in 1991, led to a podiatrist telling me, "Running may not be your best sport." So I hung up my running shoes, opting instead for low-impact sports such as cycling and hiking.
By 2007, I had the ankle joint surgically fused, and my bionic joint is now held together with two brackets and a three-inch screw. I considered a return to running. But a herniated disk led to lower back pain that dictated otherwise. So I stuck with hiking, yoga, and cycling.
Until 2015...when I discovered the Galloway Method.
Long-distance runner Jeff Galloway promotes this approach as a way to give your body short periods of rest and recovery as you run. By walking and running at set intervals (and these can vary from runner to runner, depending on what interval works best for each person), you allow your body to rest before you get fatigued. You might be thinking, "But won't that slow me down?" While the answer to that question depends on what intervals you choose, the answer is, "Not necessarily." Many Galloway runners maintain the same overall pace they would run if they didn't take walk breaks, and some even achieve a faster overall pace.
For me, I began with a 2-minute walk and 30-second run. I gradually shifted to a 1:30 walk/30-second run and then a 1-minute walk/30-second run. I completed the 2016 New York City Marathon doing a 30-second walk/30-second run — what I call my "happy back pace" — proving that, indeed, you can make the Galloway Method work for you. Along the way, my legs became stronger, my heart rate dropped by 20 beats a minute, and my aerobic capacity and stamina improved.
It takes a lot of time to train for a marathon, so I am now sticking with half-marathons and shorter races. Not something I would have expected at age 55! If you're considering a return to running but have been hesitant to do so, check out the Galloway Method. It could be just the right prescription to get you back out on the roads!