Today, on my long run, I had a go at ‘Jeffing’.
Now, just in case your mind veers that way, this is not a variant of dogging, or even a euphemism for nipping into the bushes for a wild wee.
No, this is a method devised by Jeff Galloway, an American Olympian who developed the run/walk strategy.
Whenever I’ve been in races in the past, especially Half Marathons, I’d noticed that one or two people were walking before we’d even got to the first mile. It used to surprise me and I’m sorry to say, I was a little bit judgemental about those people. I just assumed that they hadn’t trained properly and didn’t have a respect for the distance, and I got annoyed when I nearly tripped over them as they went into walking breaks.
I’ve since vaguely heard of Jeffing as a thing, but hadn’t really paid any attention until more recently. There used to be a UK based podcast, called ‘Marathon Talk’ and I’ve been slowly working my way through its back catalogue. Episodes 63 and 64 contain an interview with Jeff, and that made me want to have a go myself.
The interviewer, Tom Williams, who is now Parkrun’s Global coordinator, hadn’t been particularly enamoured by the idea of using run/walk as a strategy. He thought that most people doing a run would want to aim to run as much of it as they could, if not all of it.
I have to say I was of the same mindset, and I still am, even after the interview. I would like to fully train for and run a half marathon or a marathon. I know the last Half I did involved a few walking sections in the later stages, and I think my next one, in just over two weeks’ time, is going the same way given my inability, right now, to get over ten miles with any degree of comfort, but I still plan to run as much of it as I can.
The chat was fascinating, however, and Jeff comes across a really lovely guy. The thing about it that really caught my ears and made me want to try it out, was the speed of recovery after these runs.
Now, if I am going to work towards that Marathon next September, and it’s still a big ‘If’, considering my lack of progression, I will need to be on my feet for an inordinate amount of time. My last two or three long runs have been tough, and they’ve managed to wipe me out for a big chunk of the rest of the day. That could be partly to do with the extra levels of heat we’ve been having, plus that pint of blood that I handed over recently, but I’ve been needing one or two rounds of paracetamol in order to ward of the killer headaches that I sometimes get through over exertion.
I was aiming to go for at least ten miles today, or maybe more if I felt up to it. I used an 80/20 ratio, so I ran for four minutes and walked for one. There are lots of ratios that are worked out on his website depending on how long it takes you to do one mile. My recent track effort and Parkrun showed I can currently do a mile in around 9 minutes.
So how’d it go?
Well on a long slow run I’m usually around 5 miles an hour. This time, I knocked it on the head at 9.3 miles in 1 hr 57. A little bit slower than my normal then, but not that much. My legs were tired but that is possibly because my running sections were very often faster than they should be on a slow run. I could have carried on for a bit longer, but I suddenly remembered that I’ve got a long bike ride planned tomorrow so I stopped early.
On the running front, I’m not sure about the stop/start of it all. It felt a bit like I was stopping my momentum, especially when I was fresher. Towards the end, I was longing for the walk bit, thinking that I wouldn’t be able to start running again, but I did, surprisingly.
Post-run, I did feel achy in my legs, but I haven’t had to take any paracetamol for my head, and I don’t feel wiped out. Again, the temperature drop could be a big factor for this so it’s hard to tell.
I may give it another go, or a few goes, when I start building up my distance for the marathon next year. Jeff Galloway says that one of the big benefits of his Run/Walk strategy is the massive drop in injuries for the people he has trained, and I can see how regularly changing the group of muscles you’re using can help in that.
I see it as a means to an end, with the end being running the whole distance. I can’t see myself Jeffing in a race situation. I now have nothing against other Jeffers, but if you could move over to the side before you suddenly break into a walk, that would be good.