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The Complete Guide To Jeffing: How Walking Intervals Can Change Your Running Game

There are lots of different approaches to getting started with running for beginners, one of which is referred to as Jeffing, or the Jeff Galloway run/walk method.

So, what exactly is Jeffing and what is the Jeff Galloway method? Does a run&walk approach to training actually work? Will the Jeff Galloway run-walk method help reduce injuries or allow you to run faster?

In this article, we will discuss what the Jeff Galloway run walk method entails, the Jeffing meaning, the benefits of this method, and how to get started Jeffing.

We will cover the following: 

  • What Is Jeffing?
  • What Are the Benefits of Jeffing?
  • How to Do Jeffing

Let’s dive in! 

A runner looking at their watch.

What Is Jeffing?

Jeffing refers to a run-walk or run/walk approach to running.

It is so named based on the creator of the run&walk method of training, Coach Jeff Galloway.

For this reason, Jeffing is more frequently referred to as the Jeff Galloway method or the Jeff Galloway run walk method of training.

Jeffing, or the Jeff Galloway run-walk method, involves combining running with deliberate walking breaks in order to give your cardiovascular system and legs occasional breaks from the high-intensity and high-impact demand of running with a lower-cardio and low-impact demand of walking.

By following the run/walk approach, many beginners, and even experienced runners, are able to run longer distances and stay injury free.

In fact, most running coaches suggest that all beginner runners spend the first couple of weeks of training following a run&walk approach.

A person jogging.

That is, doing short bouts of running interspersed with walking breaks to help catch your breath and reduce the impact stress on your bones, joints, muscles, and connective tissues while your fitness and musculoskeletal systems begin to adapt to the high-intensity, high-impact nature of running.

Over time, many new runners shift away from Jeffing by gradually increasing the length of the running intervals and decreasing the length and frequency of the walking intervals until they are running for the entire workout session.

However, some runners find that they feel better by sticking with the Jeff Galloway run/walk method over the long term, and some people may complete an entire marathon by Jeffing or doing the run-walk method.

Jeffing Is also common among ultra runners, who use the walk/run approach during ultramarathons, often walking or what is known as “fastpacking” of the uphills and then running on the flats and downhills.

Ultimately, Jeffing can be summed up as a combination of running and walking during a race or training.

A person walking.

What Are the Benefits of Jeffing?

It may seem counterintuitive, but the run walk method for distance running may actually improve performance, particularly for older runners.

For example, some research has found that certain runners may be more efficient at walking, and thus by taking walking breaks when running, runners may be able to stave off muscular and cardiovascular fatigue for improved stamina.

For example, one study investigated the efficiency of walking on a treadmill at various speeds for walkers and runners aged 65 and older. 

The metabolic efficiency of the older athletes was compared to that of younger individuals.

The results were interesting: older runners were found to be efficient walkers, whereas older walkers were less efficient at walking than their aged-matched runner counterparts as well as the control group of college students.

Older runners on treadmills.

More specifically, older runners demonstrated the same metabolic efficiency for walking at various speeds as younger college students, whereas the older walkers who are not runners required about 7 to 10% more oxygen to maintain the same walking speeds as the older runners and college students.

This study does not necessarily demonstrate improved efficiency using the Jeff Galloway run walk method per se, but it does provide evidence to suggest that older runners, in particular, may benefit from Jeffing because the walking brakes will be “low cost“ from a metabolic and cardiovascular standpoint.

There is plenty of research to suggest that VO2 max, cardiovascular and metabolic efficiency, and overall running performance decline with age.

This means that older runners are generally unable to run at the same speed as younger runners while exerting the same amount of effort or consuming an equal amount of oxygen.

As such, all the runners typically need to run at a slower pace to stay within the aerobic zone, which compromises race performance.

A person jogging.

However, if older runners decide to engage in Jeffing, some of the disparity in aerobic efficiency will be minimized. This may potentially allow senior runners to run longer distances at a lower metabolic cost because the body is getting walking breaks.

Another study essentially corroborated these results.

Even though the study group was made up of cyclists and walkers, the results demonstrated that cyclists who were fitter than their age-matched walking peers were able to walk much more efficiently and at a similar metabolic cost as younger athletes.

Perhaps most compelling of the potential performance benefits of Jeffing, one study with recreational runners found that the Jeffing method was able to produce similar marathon finish times as running continuously for the entire 26.2-mile distance.

A person jogging.

How to Do Jeffing

There isn’t a single official way that you have to do Jeffing for it to qualify as Jeffing.

Essentially, you just want to alternate between cycles of run-walk intervals.

The length of the running intervals and walking intervals will depend on your fitness level, the distance you are trying to cover relative to your fitness level, and your personal preferences.

Most beginners start the Jeffing method by running for 30 to 60 seconds, followed by 1 to 2 minutes of walking.

You might use a 1:3 ratio of your run-to-walk intervals in a basic Jeffing for a beginner’s plan.

For example, if you can only run for 30 seconds to start, you would run for 30 seconds and then walk for 90 seconds for one run-walk cycle. Then you would repeat this pattern 10 to 15 times over the course of your training session.

A person walking.

Then, you might progress to a 1:2 run-walk interval pattern.

This might involve stepping up the run intervals to 45 seconds and keeping the walking breaks to 90 seconds, or you may be able to progress to running one for one minute and walking for two minutes.

The next stage would be a 1:1 Jeffing workout. This means that your run intervals would be the same amount of time as your walk intervals.

Beginners could do a one-minute run and a one-minute walk for each cycle. Then progressed to two minutes of running with two minutes of walking.

The next step would be to progress to a 2:1 Jeffing workout. Here, the running belts are twice as long as the recovery walks. 

So, if you can run for two minutes, you would cut the walking down to one minute and cycle between two-minute runs with one-minute walks for the duration of your workout.

A person walking in the woods.

Whether you are using Jeffing to progress to nonstop running or to facilitate longer training runs and races with less stress on your body, you would continue to reduce the ratio of walking intervals to running intervals so that you are running for longer periods of time and taking shorter and less frequent walking breaks.

For example, if you have a decent level of fitness built up and you are using the Jeff Galloway run-walk Jeffing approach to build up to the marathon distance but you have the endurance and fitness to run quite a few miles without taking walking breaks, you still might deliberately incorporate short walking breaks earlier on in your run.

Even though you would still be able to run without stopping and walking, adding in a few planned short walking breaks can help stave off fatigue so that you can make it through a longer run.

In this type of scenario, you might use a 10:1 run:walk interval pattern so that you run for 10 minutes and then walk for one minute, or you might even run for 10 minutes and then just walk for 30 seconds, or run for 15 minutes and then walk for 45 seconds before starting to run again. 

Then, you would repeat this same run/walk interval pattern throughout the duration of your long run, helping you prolong your workout and build up your mileage in the training session.

If you are a beginner looking to get started with running and want to follow a run&walk approach that will gradually transition into running without stopping, check out our 30-day running challenge here.

Two people running on a sunny day.
Photo of author
Amber Sayer is a Fitness, Nutrition, and Wellness Writer and Editor, as well as a NASM-Certified Nutrition Coach and UESCA-certified running, endurance nutrition, and triathlon coach. She holds two Masters Degrees—one in Exercise Science and one in Prosthetics and Orthotics. As a Certified Personal Trainer and running coach for 12 years, Amber enjoys staying active and helping others do so as well. In her free time, she likes running, cycling, cooking, and tackling any type of puzzle.

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