**Updated December 2017
Well, you now have the perfect pair of running shoes, and are set for the road. There are a great many programs that are geared for this next step, but perhaps the two most known and beloved are Cool Running’s The Couch-to-5K Running Plan and Official runDisney Training Consultant Jeff Galloway’s Run-Walk-Run Method. From a best practice standpoint, both avoid the “two steps forward and four back” that plagues many eager beavers. The reality is that slow and steady really does win the race, and keeps you out of a physical therapist’s office. Even amongst the most youthful, strongest, and fittest of us, running injuries are prevalent. In large part, this is because running is a repetitive and stressful activity. (Hence the Repetitive Stress Syndrome, RSS, and cumulative trauma that leads to “runner’s knee”, shin splints, achilles tendonitis, ITB Syndrome and other dreaded disorders that are seemingly synonymous with the sport.) It doesn’t have to be that way. The PT biz is thriving enough, thank you.
So how do you choose the running program that will ensure your success? I’ll boil down (way down) each to compare and contrast:
The Couch-to-5K Running Plan
– 20-30 minutes, training 3 times a week
– Session 1: Brisk 5 minute walk warm-up, then alternate 60 seconds jogging with 90 seconds of walking for a total of 20 minutes
– Half-way point: (Week 4) Brisk 5 minute walk, jog 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, jog 5 minutes, walk 2 1/2 minutes, jog 3 minutes, walk 90 seconds, jog 5 minutes for a total of 2 miles.
– Goal: (At the end of the 9 week training program.) Brisk 5 minute warm-up, then jog for 3 miles for a total of about 30 minutes.
Run-Walk-Run Method (Using the 5K/10K program, for comparison.)
– 10-15 minutes for 2 days; 1 mile on the third; training 3 times a week. Suggested rest, walk or cross training (strength/flexibility activities) on the non-training days, with 1 day rest only.
– Session 1: Standard warm up (walk 3-5 minutes) Run-Walk-Run, at your pace, 10-15 minutes. (True beginners are advised to begin with 5 seconds of running to 55 seconds of walking, and adjust that ratio gradually with time.) Standard cool-down (walk gently for 10 minutes).
– Half-way point: (Week 7) Run-Walk-Run 25-30 minutes 2 days that week, 2.5 miles, at your pace, on the third day.
– Goal: (At the end of a 15 week training program.) Run-Walk-Run 3.1 miles at your pace.
Here’s Jeff Galloway explaining pacing intervals at the 2011 Meet Up, Fly Away event during the 2011 Disney Wine & Dine Half Marathon Weekend (along with some bonus tips about eating before a race, so stick with it to the end of the video).
I encourage you to use the links and look at each program in more detail, as the above is a summary only. Both are available as an app if will be running with your smart phone; Couch-to-5K App and Jeff Galloway. Both plans call for running 3 days a week, and use walking for warm-up and cool-down. Two major differences will no doubt be obvious:
– The Couch-to-5K Running Plan uses interval training (or “wogging” as some call it) until enough endurance is achieved for running/jogging only. Run-Walk-Run Method purposefully builds in walk breaks, no matter the distance (marathons included).
– The Couch-to-5K Running Plan assumes a beginner will be running approximately an 8.5 minute mile at the end of the 9 week training. Run-Walk-Run Method has a beginner goal of “finishing in the upright position”, and finish times are variable.
To be transparent, I have written many times that I use Jeff’s program, and attribute him for making me a runner after many, many years of thinking that running was just “not for me”. By employing Run-Walk-Run I have avoided irritation of my partially torn ACL, and have finished two half marathons without swelling. In fact with both, I was virtually pain-free the following days! From a scientific standpoint, Run-Walk-Run simply makes so much sense. Soft tissues are not over stressed and overstretched to the point of injury when they are given time for recovery during each run. Though I have joked with Jeff that his program is “not good for business”, it is the first thing I discuss with patients undergoing rehab for running injuries. An ounce of prevention always wins over a pound of cure.
Another sound resource I highly recommend is 35 Amazing Health Benefits of Running, According to Science (+10 Tips for Beginners).
No matter which training program you choose, you can benefit from my Top PT Tip; your resting pulse will determine your fitness level!
Step 2 of Train Like a Princess is now complete. Stop by next Tuesday for another Top PT Tip. Until then, trust me,