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What on earth is Jeffing?

You may have heard runners who are about to race saying “I’m Jeffing it today” or even “I’m after a personal best time and I’m going to do it by Jeffing”

Clueless? Read on…

Jeffing is a method of using run/walk intervals right from the start of a run. The idea is that taking regular breaks can help you to…

  1. actually be able to finish your run or race
  2. finish without injury or exhaustion
  3. finish faster than you would if you just ran (yes, you did read that correctly!)
  4. recover more quickly
  5. get constant walk ‘rewards’ if you push yourself to keep running until your set walk interval (really good on longer distance events where positive thoughts are vital)
  6. rediscover that lost mojo when running just doesn’t seem to work for you any more

The guy who pioneered this method is Jeff Galloway. It is known as the Galloway Run Walk Run method but it’s affectionately known as ‘Jeffing

Jeff is an American Running Coach, former Olympian and writer who still runs competitively in his 70’s. He has made running and competing in events such as marathons possible for so many. What a dude!

The first time I tried Jeffing was at a track marathon. Running tracks are broken up into a 400 meter circumference and lend themselves to Jeffing as you can use the meter markers as your walking breaks. I didn’t do it to get a good time but I had a 28 mile hilly trail marathon the next day so I did it to save my legs. With 4 laps to go, my legs felt like I had run about 8 miles. I felt so fresh that I ended up running my heart out as fast as I could for that brilliant buzz to finish the event with. The next day, I was ready to go for a second marathon that weekend.

The second time, I was after a marathon pb. (personal best) and I only went and did it! It wasn’t a fluke. My first marathon set my best time and this was 32 marathons into my running career and three years later.

Jeffing really works!

I tend to do a lot of Jeffing now. I really struggle with flat events and hate running on tarmac or worse still, concrete paths. I lost my running mojo a while back but it allows me to still complete long distance events without the same level of running fitness that I had formally

(note here: please don’t use this as an excuse not to train – that is one sure way to get yourself injured!)

I’m Jeffing this weekend at the wonderful Sussex Trail Events Marathon Madness. It’s part of a crazy 7 marathons in 7 days event but I will only be doing one marathon. It just happens to be day 6 which involves laps on the undercliff path at Ovingdean on concrete – my least favourite running terrain.

Aargh! Why you ask?

Clearly there is a touch of the masochist in me. There is something quite cathartic about completing a challenge which particularly presses buttons to test your mental and physical toughness. I am absolutely sure that there will be several of the 7 in 7 day athletes who will be Jeffing.

Several of my running clients have had a go at Jeffing. I often refer them to it if they have been coming back from injury and so haven’t trained as well as they might. I also suggest it, if they decide to attempt a run when they still have niggles or an injury which is not totally fixed.

I just want to be clear here that as a Sports Massage Therapist, I never suggest that you should run a race in these circumstances but adults are able to make their own choices and I cannot stop someone who is determined to run

So how exactly do you Jeff?

I’ve added a link to Jeff’s website. It’s quite nerdy and he makes suggestions depending on your anticipated race time. He also talks a lot about additional benefits and reasons for using the method. If you are interested, then I really suggest that you read up.

I tend to Jeff using my own chosen interval ratios and you will usually need a running watch or gadget to keep check on your intervals. I may not be strictly Jeffing but using my own style of ‘Pali-ing’ based on my extensive experience as a marathon runner. All of the following run walk run interval methods and more can work. Here are a few examples:

  1. Run 1 mile/km, walk 1 minute etc
  2. 30:30 Run 30 seconds, walk 30 seconds etc
  3. Using a track, run 350m, walk 50m etc
  4. I tend to do this one: Run 0.8 mile, walk 0.2 mile etc
  5. Run to the 3rd lamppost, walk to the next, run to the 3rd lamppost etc
  6. On a trail event, use the hills as your walk breaks.
  7. Couch to 5k Training Plans use walk run walk intervals, gradually increasing the run intervals as you progress over the weeks

The key to Jeffing, is to do it right from the beginning.

The downside is when spectators or other runners assume you are having a problem. Smile sweetly and tell them it’s all part of your cunning plan and then catch them up later in the race and leave them for dust. (I did this at the Amex Marathon – I was roughly 30 minutes faster than the guy who passed me earlier in the race and asked me why I was walking)

On trail events and ultra marathons, I use the walks on the hills to drink and munch on snacks, enjoy the scenery, check directions (on self navigation events) and ‘fanny around’ by adjusting my kit and things in my backpack.

Never suddenly stop!

This is particularly so on city road events. You will have another runner run into you and will be a complete liability. Slow down gently, look behind you to check it’s safe, put your arm up and shout out that you are going to walk. When you start up running again, do it gradually.

The run intervals should be at a comfortable pace and then you should walk ‘purposely’. You should still feel good when you begin the walk breaks and if you feel exhausted, then you are running too fast or need to increase the walk ratio (I’ve had to do this a few times)

Don’t

run for as far as you can and then start Jeffing. This is called ‘running a race badly and without a race plan’ (it’s what most under trained people do and will lead to you having a bad run and experience)

Read about the Galloway Run Walk Run Method here;

I have a Leadership in Running Fitness certificate and have run over 150 marathons including about 30 ultra marathons. Consult a running coach for training plans which may suit you, or your healthcare practitioner if you have any health conditions. I regularly help runners to overcome injury so be in touch if this applies to you. Don’t forget that rest days are training days and follow my lead and incorporate regular sports maintenance massage into your training

If you have used this technique, let me know in the comments below how you got on and what interval ratios you use or have tried.

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