By LARRY VAUGHT
PIGEON FORGE, Tenn. — Jeff Galloway says he was a “fat, lazy kid” who only joined the cross country team because friends told him the cross country coach was the most “lenient” coach in the school.
“They told me you run trails and you just run 200 yards to the woods and then tell the coach you did the rest,” said Galloway.
That changed for Galloway on his third day when an older kid told him to run with them. Galloway said they were funny and he wanted to hear their jokes and gossip, so each day he started going a little bit longer with his run.
Today he is one of the nation’s running gurus. He was an all-American at Wesleyan University in Connecticut. He won the first Peachtree Road Race in Atlanta in 1970. He made the 1972 U.S. Olympic team in the 10,000-meter run.
Now he conducts a range of training programs, owns two running specialty stores, writes books on running and does a monthly column for Runner’s World, the Bible for serious runners.
He’s in Pigeon Forge for the RetroWeekend and conducted a 90-minute seminar Friday and will do another 90-minute segment Saturday.
“Within two days after I started running, even when I was physically destroyed, I felt better in spirit and in my head than ever. The friendships with the guys I was running with were trusting and wonderful,” Galloway said. “I wanted that to continue. It has been 57 years no and none of that has gone away.”
He encouraged those of us here — mainly in the over 40 age group — to enjoy Saturday’s race of 5 miles, 900 yards.
“I could have been voted the least likely to succeed at any level of running,” he said. “It took me five years in high school to get into the state championships (where he won the 2-mile run). I just wasn’t good. I hung in due to friendships and the fun we had running together,” Galloway said.
After college, he spent three years in the Navy during the Vietnam War before returning home to Atlanta. That’s when he was one of 110 entries in the first Peachtree Road Race that he won.
He went to graduate school at Florida State and met his wife, Barbara, a track team member. For the last eight years, they have run a marathon every year. They usually do one or two half-marathons in between their monthly marathons.
Galloway explained his run-walk-run philosophy makes that possible. They run 15 seconds, then walk 15 seconds.
“That allows us to recover and can run the next day after a marathon,” Galloway said. “Run-walk-run is what we are designed to do, not run long distances. You can train that way, but you pay for it in injuries, recovery time and exhaustion. If you don’t have problems running non-stop, then go for it. But 30 seconds provides the maximum benefit for a walking break.”
Two years ago he qualified for the Boston Marathon for the first time in 10 years. He had been running marathons at the pace his wife preferred. However, he trained and used a program where he ran 30 seconds, walked 15 seconds for the 26.2 miles and qualified for Boston.
“My legs had the pizzaz at the end to keep going,” he said.
He offered a variety of training tips and techniques. He also handed out these words of wisdom:
— “The No. 1 reason you get injured on long runs is doing it too fast,” Galloway said. “You cannot err by going too slow on long runs.”
— He said to always pick running when it is cooler with higher humidity than warmer with lower humidity. “You want to run when it is cooler. That is a no-brainer. The safest time to run is before dawn when it comes to heat.”
— “The whole beauty of running is that we are captain of our own ship,” Galloway said. “Non-stop running is not something we were designed to do. At some point, non-stop running will result in injuries. Run-walk-run reduces injuries significantly.
“I am against aches, pains, puking. Our body is designed to improve and heal if we let it. You want to get to where you want to go but do it in a way so your body can recovery.”
— This is something every runner should remember. “We enjoy running faster but I have never had anyone tell me that because I am running a minute a mile faster, my life is fantastic. Times are for egos,” he said. “We enjoy running for so many reasons, including new growth of brain cells which is important for us Retro runners who may have destroyed some or still will.”
See more on RetroWeekend at https://goretrorunning.com/