What the "Eff" is "Jeffing"?

“Jeffing?” I hear you cry “What on earth is Jeffing? 

Is it a special non-chaffing way of running? 

Is it when you eff and Jeff during your run? 

Is it when you take a friend called Jeff with you? 

No (Sorry Jeff) 

“Jeffing” is the affectionate way those who ‘Jeff’ refer to the Jeff Galloway running technique (www.jeffgalloway.com). Jeff is a 10,000 metre Olympian and founder of the run-walk-run method which has seen hundreds of thousands of people achieve their running goals across the world.

For some of us, Jeff has turned into a bit of a hero, enabling us to run further and faster than we ever thought possible.

In a nutshell, it’s running and walking for very short bursts - a bit like interval training. 

It’s NOT running until you’re knackered and then walking, rather it encourages you to incorporate walk breaks into your run. Jeff suggests working out your ratio - the amount you run and walk - by putting a timed mile into the algorithm on his website. For some, however this is a bit too fiddly so they just try different ratios until they find one that works for them.

All ratios are written with the run part first. 

For example, 30:30 would be 30 seconds run and 30 seconds walk and, 5:30 would be 5 minutes run and 30 seconds walk. Sometimes we add an extra number like this - 30:30:30 which translates as, run for 30 seconds and then walk for 30 seconds for 30 minutes. Another example is 25:30:45 . I like it written with 3 numbers because it shows you’re measuring success in time rather than distance which can be daunting.

The run parts involve running at your usual comfortable pace for the prescribed distance. The walk is described as at a ‘purposeful’ pace. To slow down for a walk break, don’t suddenly stop - just put your brakes on a little and slow to a walk over a few steps. Equally when speeding up again, just speed up over a few steps. If the ratio you have chosen means you’re tired at the end of each run section and needing the walk break to recover then either you’re running too fast or you need to shorten your run section. 

To keep track of your ratios use a running watch (check they do ratios or interval training first) or a ’Gymboss’ (a little seperate beeper that you can clip onto your t-shirt or belt - available from Amazon) or one of the free interval or HIIT apps available on your phone. Then you’re set!

The secret is that you start “Jeffing” from the very beginning of your run, this way you conserve energy for later on. As Jeff says “you are the captain of your running ship” so if you want to run a bit before “Jeffing” then go for it, it’s just not his recommendation. This can feel really strange, especially in races when you’re starting to walk after a very short time. Just remember it’s all part of your race plan. You’ll be overtaking people who walk later on so stay strong.

Often, people are really surprised at how short the run parts are. Our beginners start on 15:45:15 which for some is pretty hard work when you’re new to exercise. But, knowing it’s only for 15 seconds can make an enormous difference psychologically.

It’s important to remember that just because one is running for a few seconds at a time, doesn’t mean you’re any less of a runner than the next person. It’s a running ‘technique’ no more, no less. 

Also, there’s absolutely no rules in running. If you go to any race across the country, at some point, runners will be walking, sometimes its because they’re tired, sometimes they’re taking in a gel, sometimes they’re going up a hill. We just preplan those walk breaks because we’re clever. ;-)

I like 30:30, it’s my ‘go to’ ratio, although if I’m tired or the monkey on my shoulder is telling me I can’t do it or I have a case of “frontdooritus” I’ll switch to 20:40. I ran a half marathon using the 15:30 ratio and loved it. 

Lots of non-stop runners don’t ‘get’ “Jeffing” and see that the walk/run thing would be hard to do - “how do you keep stopping and starting?” they say “I find it so hard to get started again after I stop”, “Isn’t walking cheating?”

This is understandable but as I said, it’s a running technique and techniques take a little time to master. It’s the same as other running techniques - like improving your posture or fore front running for example. Many people who try “Jeffing” find their times improve, their recovery improve and that they enjoy running even more. I just point naysayers in the direction of the Facebook group ‘Girls that Jeff’ - an international community of thousands of female runners who all “Jeff”. Some members are beginners, some are ultra-runners and some are even e-coached by the great man himself! They can’t all be wrong, can they?

Running is, without a doubt an emotional rollercoaster. 

Whether you’re a seasoned runner chasing a PB or just starting out, the emotions we feel are raw. Beginning to believe in yourself, or pick yourself up after a ‘bad’ run can be a test to the strongest of personalities. Women are, in my experience incredibly self-deprecating - we don’t give ourselves a chance and we don’t always celebrate our achievements when we should. Society has taught us over the years to compare ourselves to others and to be that ‘perfect’ woman - whoever she is (spoiler - she doesn’t exist!)

“Jeffing” can give you options, if you’re feeling emotionally sore or full of self-doubt, you can control your runs, change your ratios, walk an extra section, whatever - you’re in charge - and still feel psychologically strong because you planned your run (and walks!). Equally, if you’re busting a PB and “Jeffing” it - the walk breaks give you a few seconds to check in with yourself, keep on track and stay mentally strong.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with non-stop running - I’m amazed at those who can and I’m certainly not suggesting that “Jeffing" is the only way to run - it’s not - running is personal to the individual and what works for one person, may not work for the next person. I do suggest that people give it a couple of tries before discounting it! 

I’ve been “Jeffing” since 2015 and during this time - and since setting up I Can Run club - I have seen women who have been close to giving up running, find “Jeffing” and achieve so much that they’ve continued to run. I have seen non-stop runners be amazed at their time improvement in all distances - 5k to marathons. I’ve seen women prone to injury take up “Jeffing” and be able to run again injury free and I’ve seen women who have not exercised for years, run up to 5k in just 6 weeks.

These reasons, to me make the technique incredible in my eyes, that all these women may have stopped - or never even started - but instead they’re out there smashing it, earning medals, pushing themselves further and faster, living a healthier life and generally being amazing.

Run Walk Run repeat……

 

emma talbot