I know for many runners, walking sounds like a swear word; it’s just not done. But I want to change that perception and start getting runners like you to understand that walking while running actually ends up being your superpower. 

The Run-Walk strategy is a well-known method in marathon running that involves alternating between running and walking at planned intervals. 

This technique aims to reduce fatigue during the race, allowing you to go further for longer.

For the Berlin Marathon, implementing a typical Run-Walk strategy could involve running for a specific period and then taking shorter walking breaks, repeating this pattern throughout the race, allowing you to get the best time possible at this fast, flat course

When executed correctly, this strategy offers numerous benefits and can help you achieve your time goal for the marathon.

To make the most of the Run-Walk strategy during the Berlin Marathon, it’s essential to train using this technique in your long and easy runs before race day

Properly preparing and familiarizing yourself with the intervals will help you effectively implement the strategy during the actual event.

In this article, we will cover the following:

  1. Can I Use The Run-Walk Method In The Berlin Marathon?
  2. How To Implement a Run-Walk Strategy in Your Berlin Marathon Training
  3. Assessing the Effectiveness of the Run-Walk Method: Pros and Cons
  4. A Guide to the Berlin Marathon Run-Walk Strategy
  5. Run Walk The Berlin Marathon In Under 3:30 hours, 4 hours, and 5 Hours

Let’s dive into the run-walk strategy…

Can I Use The Run-Walk Method In The Berlin Marathon?

As long as participants complete the marathon within the designated time limit of 6 hours and 15 minutes, they are permitted to walk or use a run-walk strategy throughout the 26.2 miles.

The event organizers provide support for all participants, including those who opt for walking, making it completely acceptable and encouraged to follow a run-walk approach during the Berlin Marathon.

How To Implement A Run-Walk Strategy In Your Berlin Marathon Training

At Coach Parry, we highly endorse the run-walk strategy as an effective approach for marathon training. 

To start, it’s not necessary to practice the run-walk method in every training run. Instead, focus on implementing it during your easy and long runs. This allows you to establish a comfortable and consistent rhythm.

The key to a successful run-walk strategy is not the exact ratio of running to walking but finding a routine that suits you, and more importantly, starting from the beginning. 

Too many people start walking only when they need to walk, and by then the eccentric damage to their muscles has been done and it is too late. So you really do want to start this strategy early in the race. 

For instance, you could run for three minutes and walk for one minute, gradually building up to running 10 km (6.2km) and taking a one-minute walk break.

The further back you are in the field, the more effective the run-walk strategy can be, especially if you practice it more frequently. 

For those positioned farther back, I recommend incorporating one to two minutes of walking every three to six kilometers. 

Additionally, consider adding extra walk breaks on hilly sections. (Although Berlin Marathon doesn’t have too many hilly sections, this will still apply to your training.)

When it comes to hills, the run-walk method still applies. For steep or lengthy hills, try running for one minute and then walking for one minute, or use visual cues like running two poles and walking one pole. 

The goal is to find a pattern that feels comfortable yet allows you to earn your walk break by covering enough distance.

These walking breaks aim to keep you feeling fresh and maintain good leg performance for the long haul, ultimately improving your average speed throughout the race.

The more you practice this method during your training cycle, the more comfortable and natural it will become, making it easier to execute during the Berlin Marathon.

As for varying terrains, flexibility is essential. When facing a hill, don’t hesitate to take additional walk breaks to conquer the incline. Similarly, even on downhills, embrace walk breaks as they provide relief to your muscles and prevent fatigue.

Above all, aim to take short walk breaks before you feel absolutely exhausted, ensuring you can sustain your energy and performance.

Now that you know how to incorporate the run-walk strategy into your training, let’s look at why it’s beneficial to use it on race day.

Now, you might be wondering about the effectiveness of the run-walk method on race day at the Berlin Marathon. How well does this strategy work in this particular race?

The Effectiveness Of The Run-Walk Method: Pros And Cons

Pros of the Run-Walk Method During the Berlin Marathon:

  • For beginners, adopting a run-walk strategy provides a sense of control over their race and pacing strategy, making the marathon experience more manageable.
  • Walking breaks serve as quick boosts of active recovery, reducing fatigue, conserving energy, and aiding muscle recovery during the race.
  • Incorporating walk breaks helps reduce the impact of repetitive stress on joints, lowering the risk of running-related injuries during the marathon.
  • Contrary to expectations, including walk breaks in your race strategy may lead to a faster marathon time. Walking preserves energy, allowing you to finish the second half of the marathon with more strength and endurance.
  • Following a run-walk strategy keeps your mind focused on the plan, helping you stay on track amid the multitude of distractions and events happening during the Berlin Marathon.
  • It also allows you to perhaps work your walk breaks around your nutrition strategy thereby also ensuring you do not forget about your all-important nutrition

Cons of the Run-Walk Method During the Berlin Marathon:

  • One potential drawback is that during the excitement of race day, with fellow runners and enthusiastic supporters around, it can be challenging to stick to the planned walk breaks.
  • It may be harder to maintain a consistent pace with the run-walk method, as the transition between running and walking can disrupt the rhythm. However, I find that if this is something you have practiced in your easy and long runs, this becomes less of an issue. 
  • Some runners may feel like they are being overtaken by others who are running continuously, which can be a mental challenge, especially for those like me who are competitive. You need to just remind yourself, though, that you will end up passing many of those people later in the race 😉 

Overall, the positives of the run-walk method far outweigh the negatives when applied during the Berlin Marathon. 

Now, let’s have a look at how you can effectively implement the run-walk strategy on race day during the Berlin Marathon.

A Guide To The Berlin Marathon Run-Walk Strategy

For the Berlin Marathon, the run-walk strategy can be effective if you plan strategically, especially with the 6-hour and 15-minute cut-off time in mind.

To make this method work for you, it’s crucial to find the right ratio of running to walking that aligns with your individual running ability and race time goal.

If your goal is to simply finish the Berlin Marathon using the run-walk strategy, you have several options. 

For instance, if you aim to run a 10-minute mile (approximately 6 minutes per km), you could try running for 90 seconds and then walking for 30 seconds, repeating this pattern throughout the race.

Alternatively, you can choose your run-walk ratio based on a specific mileage number. 

For example, you might run for 1 mile (1.6 km) and then walk for 30 seconds.

To support your training journey, we’ve designed the ultimate beginners’ Berlin Marathon Training plan

However, if you have a particular time goal in mind, it’s essential to adjust the strategy accordingly to meet your objectives.

What Is The Best Run-Walk Ratio For The Berlin Marathon

When it comes to choosing the right run-walk ratio for the Berlin Marathon, it’s all about being smart with your approach, especially since the marathon has a 6-hour and 30-minute cut-off time.

But what’s the perfect run-walk ratio? 

Well, it’s a bit like picking the right shoe size – it’s different for everyone.

There’s no one-size-fits-all answer because what suits one runner might not be the best for another. It’s a highly individualized process.

The key is to discover a run-to-walk ratio that works for you while keeping your race time goal in mind. 

Let’s break it down a bit:

  • If you’re aiming for a 3:30 Berlin Marathon finish, you might consider running for 4 minutes and walking for 30 seconds. This keeps you on pace to hit your target time.
  • Or, you could try running for 2 minutes and then walking for 15 seconds. This ratio can help you maintain a steady and consistent pace towards your goal.
  • If your goal is to finish the Berlin Marathon in 5 to 6 hours, you could think about a 30-second run followed by a 30-second walk. Alternatively, you might go for 15 seconds of running and 15 seconds of walking.

But if your aim is just to complete the Berlin Marathon using this strategy, you have plenty of options. 

For instance, you could train by running for 90 seconds and walking for 30 seconds to complete a mile in 10 minutes. Then, stick with this ratio for the entire race.

One important thing to remember is that running and walking use different muscles. 

So even if you can breeze through a marathon with pure running, using the run-walk technique can be a whole new experience. 

It’s about finding what works best for you and your body, so you can cross that Berlin Marathon finish line with a big smile!


Shona is the former Head of Sport Science at the High-Performance Centre, University of Pretoria. She returned from Madrid, Spain, in 2013 where she completed her MBA in Sport Management with Universidad Europea de Madrid (Real Madrid FC). Shona’s current work and interest lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) conditioning and sport science working with elite ultra-endurance athletes such as Caroline Wostmann (2015 Comrades & 2Oceans winner). Aside from football strength & conditioning, Shona’s other passion and expertise lies in endurance sport (running/triathlon) as well as Women in Sport. She has competed in 4 Half IronMan distance events and three 2Oceans Ultramarathons herself. She has also worked with other elite female athletes such as London 2012 bronze medallist in canoeing, Bridgitte Hartley.

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