Run-Walk is back for 2018

Last year I got an overwhelming response to my “Can I run-walk a 2:40 marathon” experiment.  This year I’m adamant to come back and achieve what I set out to accomplish last year.
This year I will be running the Buller marathon on the 10th of February. I will again use run-walk via the 19 and 1 protocol I established last year.

Will O’Connor wins 2017 Buller Marathon


For those of you who are new to the run-walk method, the theory is fundamentally about preserving yourself early in the marathon to allow yourself to finish strong. This is achieved by;


> Allowing your cardiovascular and metabolic systems short “catch-up” periods

> Allowing for different muscle recruitment patterns during walking

> Ensuring optimal digestion of fluid and nutrition at aid stations

> Providing an appropriate pacing strategy


The big feedback I got from people over the year was “I didn’t realise it was ok to walk”. Some people even thought it was cheating if you walked.

These misperceptions are why I want to show people that if I can run a fast marathon with the run-walk method, then you should take full confidence that it can work for you too.

Outside of the race itself, many factors can help you run faster; training, nutrition and recovery but with the race, the number one factor in running a good marathon is pacing, plain and simple if you start too hard you will not finish strong. A lot of newbie runners don’t realise that you are meant to feel good at the start of a marathon. Remember if you are fit enough to run an entire marathon then the first 10k is going to feel easy and if you’re pacing yourself correctly it should feel easy. This is why it is important to go out without a clear goal in mind because if you run to how you feel you will no doubt run too fast early on because it feels too easy. You may even look at your watch and know that you’re running too fast while thinking in your head “no this feels good I’ve got this”. You don’t got this!

Having a pacing strategy like the run-walk is going to help because you’ll have a clear plan and in the case of bad weather or unexpected injury issues, you have short breaks to reassess how you feel allowing yourself to slow down if necessary and as a result still finish strong.

To implement the run-walk strategy you must first apply it within your weekly training. If you run slower than a 4 hour marathon I don’t recommend using run-walk in all of your training runs since it is still important to train without walking to produce enough fatigue so that you continue to get a training adaptation. In this case, the run-walk method is more of a race strategy than a specific training method. However, for the slower than 4 hour marathon group your fitness level is such that you will benefit by using a run-walk method in training because you will be able to train for longer without increasing fatigue too much and then not being able to recover. I have devised some simple 6 and 12 week training plans that can help you to put together a practical running training schedule to build up to a marathon using the run-walk method.
There are many factors that start to enter into the run-walk method the faster you get such as matching walking breaks with the terrain and ensuring you do not walk 30sec before an aid station I have touched on some of these in my recap article and video of the initial experiment.

If you’d like a personalised plan or analysis of your marathon course, please contact me via the Performance Advantage Facebook page or email


Will O’Connor – PhD
Sport Scientist
Performance Advantage