Olympian Jeff Galloway’s 57-year journey of running has brought him to this year’s Cowtown Marathon on Sunday.
The Georgia native has maintained his pace by following his own advice.
He’s the creator of the “Run-Walk-Run” concept, which is strategy of using a ratio of running and walking. Depending on the runner’s conditioning, Galloway suggests running for, say, nine minutes, and walking for one. And repeat.
For runners just beginning, the ratio might be a run of 30 seconds and a minute walk.
The “Run-Walk-Run” method has kept Jeff Galloway injury free for 38 years.
Runners are able to reduce fatigue and physical stress. The method has kept Galloway injury free for 38 years.
His first run of 26.2 miles, the marathon length, was at 18, five years after he discovered his life’s joy.
“When I was 18 years old, I entered the first Atlanta Marathon,” Galloway said. “My longest run had been 15 miles, and at 15 miles I hit a wall. But I was able to keep going.
“I told myself I would never run another marathon.”
For his 70th birthday last summer, Galloway finished his 200th marathon.
I knew that to keep them in the game I had to put walking in there. At the end of 10 weeks, every one of them ran either a 5K or 10K.
Jeff Galloway, on developing his running method with a beginners’ group in 1974
Galloway was an All-American at Wesleyan University in Connecticut, where he first met Frank Shorter, who was at Yale. The two would later be teammates on a club team in Florida and then the U.S. Olympic team in 1972.
He’ll run the half marathon Sunday.
How did you come to develop the “Run-Walk-Run” method? In 1974, I was asked to teach a course on beginning running and indeed none of them had been doing any running for at least five years. So I knew that to keep them in the game I had to put walking in there. At the end of 10 weeks, every one of them ran either a 5K or 10K. But the big deal was there were no injuries. I had never been with a group of 20 runners for 10 weeks in which there were no injuries. I really felt that it would work, and I started applying it to beginners for a few years and the beginners started beating veterans by using the method.
You ran the 10,000 meters at the 1972 Olympics in Munich. Talk about the terrorist attack. There was a high-rise building between where we stayed and where the hostages were taken. We didn’t know what was going on. A group of five of us went on a run the next morning and normally there was nobody at the gate to get out. One time, the guard was actually asleep, but that morning we saw this big crowd on the other side. We made it through the gate and walked out and all these reporters and they were slamming us with questions. “What did you see? … Did you hear any shots?” And we didn’t know a thing. They told us what happened. We had a series of days where there was very little information. Part of it was on purpose, part of it was because no one knew.
I realized that even on the days when I was really exhausted from the workout, I felt better than I had ever felt, and I wanted to keep that.
Galloway, on falling in love with running at age 13
When did you fall in love with running? I was a lazy kid and quite overweight, and I didn’t want to exercise. At 13, it was required for all boys to go out for athletics, and I fell into a group of kids who were runners because they were funny. I really wasn’t interested in running, I just wanted to hang out with my friends. After a few days, I realized that even on the days when I was really exhausted from the workout, I felt better than I had ever felt, and I wanted to keep that. I fell in love from the beginning.
What is your most embarrassing running story? I taught school for one year after the Olympics. I would have to get up at 4 o’clock in the morning to get in my 10 miles. It was always dark even when I finished. Well, one morning, I get out about two miles and I had to go to the bathroom. There was not a bathroom anywhere around. I kept looking for bushes; it was a very nice suburban neighborhood. Super houses. Finally, I found this perfect place; it was a magnolia tree. I get back on the road and not a half a mile later down the road this police car came up to me with flashing lights. He says, “Get your hands on the car.” I asked what was wrong. “We have reports of a prowler back a ways here.” I said, “Was it the house where the big magnolia tree is?” He said yes. I told him, including the details. All he could to keep from bursting out laughing.
Saturday-Sunday, Will Rogers Memorial Center
Saturday: 5K, youth 5K, 10K
Sunday: Half marathon, marathon, ultra marathon