differing philosophies

Wednesday, July 07, 2010


Jeff Galloway -- former Olympian and creator of the Galloway method, a run-walk-run training program that many people swear by -- spoke at Fleet Feet tonight.

Maybe it was his Atlanta accent, but something about Galloway's presentation reminded me of church. There we were, a group of about 70 runners or so, sitting in rows of chairs in front of a man who spoke very passionately about his beliefs.

And I felt like I had to decide if I wanted to become a disciple, to convert from my current "faith" in Hal Higdon and Danny Dreyer and start incorporating walk breaks into my running.

To be honest, this is a tough concept for me. I feel like if I start walking, I'll just want to keep walking and not run anymore. But Galloway said people have cut their marathon times by as much as 20 minutes using his method; apparently, the walk breaks -- when incorporated from the start and at regular intervals -- allow the muscles to recover before they become fully fatigued, and therefore you remain fresh as the race progresses. He said many Galloway runners can actually increase speed in the final miles while the competition slows down and starts bonking. The philosophy is interesting -- and I was intrigued enough to buy one of Galloway's books.

But there were quite a few things about his talk tonight that I questioned. (Of course, right? After all, we are using religion as the analogy here, and if you know me, you know how I feel about that subject.) Someone in the audience asked about stretching, and Galloway basically said don't stretch. Flat out: Don't stretch. This is the first time I've ever heard this. I know you're not supposed to stretch before a run, when your muscles are cold, because you can injure yourself. But not stretching at all? Not even after a run? That seems slightly insane to me -- and like a path to injury and soreness.

But according to Galloway, the body is supposed to be tight because a tight body is better built for distance running. He even cautioned against yoga, which made me raise yet another eyebrow. I personally recover faster and feel better when I incorporate stretching and yoga into my training regimen. Plus, I can't imagine giving up yoga -- the spiritual satisfaction and stress relief it gives me is pretty unparalleled.

So I'm a little confused here -- and a little pessimistic. But I'm still going to read Galloway's book and ask other runners for their thoughts on and experiences with the Galloway plan before I make any judgments. In the meantime, I'm sticking with my pal Higdon.

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