Run Walk strategy

Hi, I was reading today that run walk is a good strategy for a 50 mile plus race. This is news to me! The article I read recommended 5 mins run and 1 min walk from the very beginning of the race.The ultra I am doing is flat so just walking up the hills would result in no walking more or less. Any help appreciated.

  • Do you run/walk?
  • Is 5:1 (5 min run 1 min walk) a good frequency?
  • Do you start run/walk from the very beginning of the race?
  • How do you measure the 5 min / 1 min? Sounds like a silly question but doesn't looking at your watch or listening for a beep drive you insane over 50 miles?



  • As I'm a newbie to this Ultra lark Khani, I'm keen to hear what others say in answer to your questions......


  • I've not done ultras but I have used run-walk on long runs.

    5:1 is as good a ratio as any other. It depends on the individual. I like 4:1 or even 3:1 and it affects overall pace less than you might think. Some like 10:1. Experiment and see what's good for you.

    I run-walk from the off. The whole point is to preserve your legs, don't wait until you're knackered and are forced to walk because then it's too late.

    Use a Garmin or watch or timer device. Otherwise, how do you measure the intervals, be they time or distance?

  • Yes.

    and yes image no seriously it doesn't really drive you mad, you just get in a habit, you have to do it in your long training runs, you need to make it a habit, and then you just don't really worry, you just do it. 

    As well as long training runs don't be afraid of the odd days hiking as great practise as well.

    I have tried everything from 4/1 upwards, and am now settling on 10/2 it's the same ratio as your 5/1 BUT, the 2 minute section i find gives me enough time to eat or drink properly, with 1 minute it's all a bit rushed.

    If you get really tired then just take out a whole chunk and walk that chunk.

    For the beeps I use my garmin it has run / walk enabled but you can get cheap watches that can do it, or there is a company that sell run/walk alert things that are a bit like kitchen timers.


  • booktrunk wrote (see)
    For the beeps I use my garmin it has run / walk enabled but you can get cheap watches that can do it, or there is a company that sell run/walk alert things that are a bit like kitchen timers.


    Like this one. Haven't tried so cannot recommend but FYI.

  • OK thanks guys. BTW there are iphone apps that beep on interval too. I would probably go that route as i can keep my phone charged with an external battery pack - my Garmin is SURE to die FAR before the end of the ultra.

    Will report how it goes on my long run tomorrow!

  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    ...your long run/walk. image
  • Important to start with the walk breaks already in the beginning.

    25/5 is common among those that run GUCR (145 miles Birmingham-London). That's a flat course and you use the clock to control it in the beginning. You get tired during that race and need to adjust the 25/5 strategy after a while to something shorter, and the short walk breaks then turns into a way of gathering strength to do some running. It then turns more into walking with running breaks.

    In hillier races it often is better to synchronise the walk breaks with the uphils. It doesn't feel right if the clock says that you should walk a downhill and run an uphill. Better to improvise.

  • I think 5:1 too frequent. You will be constantly stop starting. I'd recommend 25/5. 5 mins gives you proper time to let HR drop, feed, drink, sort stuff out etc.

  • shawkshawk ✭✭✭

    Run/walk is just one option, if you don't like the sound of it it's perfectly acceptable to run the whole thing. Or run 25 miles first and then start your run/walk, or ...

    It all comes down to your fitness level and what you want out of the race. Personally I'd rather not bother than do a 5/1 from the start, I run because I like running!

  • I've experimented with various and find 9:1 works for me, and yes I'd do it from the start. If it gets tough towards the end you can reduce the running intervals, but personally I don't like walking for more than a minute as I find it hard to get going again - even if that means I'm down to 1:1. 

  • VDOT52VDOT52 ✭✭✭
    Don't think ultras are purely classed as a running event. Almost everyone will walk at some point in an ultra or maybe even stop for a loo break. If you can finish faster by walking occasionally that is the right tactic.
  • The main problem is that you keeprunning past folk, then being overtaken when you stopruiining, and do your walk breaks. it's jut not very sociable, as there's no way too keep a grouptogether.

  • Yes I end up apologising saying I'm not taking the piss overtaking you then falling behind etc... image 

  • for flat sections I have decided that my favourite split is .9 of a mile running and then the last .1 of the  mile walking... so more than a 9:1 split....


    It helps me to keep going during the mile .... and I know when i hear the beep I have to get going again


     How did it go today


  • It was brilliant! I set my Garmin for interval training 40 repeats of 5 min run and 1 min recovery. My average pace was only about 15 seconds per mile slower than my 22 mile run from a couple of weeks ago and I felt a lot fresher at the end. Ok I was knackered but i was not completely wiped out.

    Oh and mid run I decided to up my run from a planned 24 miles to an actual 26.2 image

    The garmin won't last through the ultra so I will try with my phone and an interval app next week. I will definitely use 5:1 intervals for the ultra. The anti social bit of it is quite worrying but I just want to get this first ultra completed and I can try running with others at future ones.

  • Ultra running is by its definition antisocial image

  • I found that setting a beep was annoying, and I thinkk it was bad for the battery, I use a duracell rechrger to top up my Garmin mid- race ( it'sa forrunner 405, I think)- not all of them still work whilst recharging, but mine does.

    It would be good to have an inaudible alert to switch- perhap vibration, rather than a beep, but I can't figure out how to do it.

  • I'm 99% sure my Garmin 210 can not be charged while it is being used image Even if it could, the stupid clip thing would never stay on. I wish I had a Fenix 2 or a 920XT but I can't justify the outlay. I will use the watch until it dies just as a point of reference - but i will rely on intervals and route recording from my iPhone, which CAN be charged via an external battery while being used. 

  • sounds good carnivore.......i much prefer hilly routes as i know exactly when to run and when to walk  .....image

  • I use run/walk for all my long runs above 10 miles. I frequently do 29 milers but not done longer yet. The smaller the segment the quicker the recovery. For ultras where you may be looking at 13+minute miles, believe it or not 30 secs/ 30secs  is perfectly adequate. In fact 20/30 or even 10/30 will give many people this and leave them fresh for hours. The idea is that it enables you to maintain what you are doing from the beginning to the end. Why crawl to the end, totally wrecked if you can get there with some semblance of a smile still on your face. 

    Look at the Jeff Galloway site, and just in case you think this is for whimps look up the National Director for Galloway Programs USA, Chris Twiggs. He is a hardcore runner- ironman, marathon runner and doing the Hardrock 100 next year. If it works for him....

  • Nice! Will check out the site.

  • Ok I had a play today. Went out and ran 7.2km non stop. Then came home and as it was then daylight changed into a tshirt and then did a 18.1km run/walk trying it at shorter intervals I did 1 minute run followed by 30 second walk and repeated. 2:20 for the 18.1km and average heart rate 66% of Max.

    The heart rate is funny all the little crenellations image 

    I found the first 10 minutes really hard, as I could not get into any sort of rhythm, but after 10 minutes it clicked and it was quite relaxing. 

  • only any use on a flat course though   .. image.. tonights 20 miler in the dark will have hills. so i am already working out where to walk... image


  • Yes, I guess but at that ploddy space smallish hills you just run up them at normal effort. But stuff like UTLD not a chance image great for Thames Path 100m image
  • I vary my R/W ratios depending on the terrain e.g. On my 18 miler the other day, I was supposed to be going between 12 and 13 min/mi to keep the stress down (raced the weekend before so in recovery - Abbey Dash 10k). Long run was on the following Friday. 

    All negative splits - 

    10/30 on hills

    30/30 downhill

    20/30 mainly flat

    I use a Gymboss interval timer to track RWR and can alter ratio in seconds now. I even altered it in the middle of the Abbey Dash. 

    I'm 61 so my times will be slower than yours but you hopefully get the principle. I find 30secs walk gives me good recovery, 20 secs isn't bad, below that I find it's too short because I glide into my walk for a smooth transition, this means I'm probably faster than a pure walk, but slower than a run,for 5 secs of the walk segment.

    I also find that any walk longer than 1 min is too long to keep momentum up. Obviously drink stations are different.

    I use a normal walk gait, def not speed walking as it stresses the hamstrings and hips.


    hope this makes sense.

  • Just looked up my pace for that run 13:10min/mi. Not bad for a negative ratio, certainly more than fast enough for an ultra. 

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