Whether you are new to running or trying to get back to it after a break, the goal is to find a rhythm and consistency so you can keep after your goals. Even if the first few runs go great, there often comes a workout that feels like a struggle—maybe because of the hot weather or you had a stressful day.

As much as you want to keep your pace consistent, you inevitably decide you have to hit the brakes and slow down to a walk. Don’t worry—it’s not the end of your running world.

Why the run/walk strategy is a good thing

We’ve been conditioned to see walking as the ultimate running-fail—a sign that you’ve given up, that you didn’t train hard enough. But Jeff Galloway, an Olympic runner and creator of the “Run Walk Run” method, wants you to reconsider your approach to slowing down.

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“The idea that we need to run without stopping has been drilled into us since our elementary school PE days (then solidified by the “run faster!” race signs you see on every course),” Galloway says. But the truth is, “adding walk breaks to your runs reduces your risk of injury and increases your overall speed.”

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There’s one caveat: The idea isn’t to walk when you’re on the brink of exhaustion; the point is to plan your walk breaks so you never feel that way in the first place. And yes, that means you can still meet—and even exceed—your overall pace goals.

See for yourself with this run/walk pace calculator. Just enter your running and walking pace, plus your total time running and walking, and we’ll calculate your combined run/walk pace and corresponding race finish times.

How to calculate your run/walk pace

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Surprised by how fast your finishing times are? Galloway isn’t. He says that people who follow his run/walk method cut an average of seven minutes off of their half marathon time, and 13 minutes off of their full marathon time. So, it might be worth giving the walking pace calculator a try.

It makes sense: Incorporating walk breaks into your runs not only allows you to work in more sprints, it also keeps you feeling fresh, recovered, and zero-percent burned out. This means that you’ll be better able to pick it up for those last few miles at the end of a race, then head to brunch without limping. “Beginners are more likely to stick to the sport using this strategy, and advanced runners are surprised by how much they reduce their risk of injury,” Galloway says.

That last part is crucial: Galloway says he hasn’t had an injury in the 40 years since he adopted his own method, and a Journal of Science and Medicine in Sport study found that people experienced less muscle pain after a marathon when they used a run/walk strategy. Even better: Their finish times were comparable to those who ran continuously, though their experience may have been more enjoyable.

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Kiera Carter
Kiera Carter has a decade's worth of experience covering fitness, health, and lifestyle topics for national magazines and websites. In a past life, she was the executive digital editor of Shape and has held staff positions at Fit Pregnancy, Natural Health, Prevention, and Men’s Health. Her work has been published by Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Travel + Leisure, and more. She spends her free time boxing, traveling, and watching any movie or show with a strong female lead. She is currently based in New York.