Running with Ruth

Stories that Inspire & Motivate...Not for New Runners Only! By Ruth Gursky


How I Fell Into Running


Article 1:
“How I fell into running - and discovered the Galloway Program”
(Or “Try it…you’ll like it!”)

In 1986, I fell down a flight of subway stairs, tore up my right knee and following 2 surgeries, started a course of physical therapy which eventually led to my taking up swimming, cycling, power walking and strength training – things I had never done before! When I felt strong enough, I challenged myself by participating in a variety of charity events: bike rides to fight MS and lung cancer, walk-a-thons and swim-a-thons benefiting AIDS organizations, etc.

Then, one day, I saw an ad for a local duathlon (2 mile run, 10 mile bike ride and another 2-mile run). Figuring that my walking, cycling and gym workouts was sufficient training for this (Boy! Was I ever wrong!), I entered the race – and came in 3rd place! (OK, so there were only 3 women in the race…doesn’t “showing up” count for something?!)

Shortly after that, I joined a running club, learned “proper” running technique and entered many races in Central Park. I ran 5K’s, 4 and 5-milers, 10K’s and finally, in the mid-90’s, I even ran a 10-miler (alongside of Fred Lebow, who was training for the NYC Marathon!). But that “ultimate” distance – the 26.2 mile marathon – seemed to evade me.

For 3 consecutive years, I was entered in the NYC Marathon. The first year, I broke a toe and couldn't train, so I deferred my application. The following year, I couldn't motivate myself to run more than one loop of the park (6 miles) in the summer’s heat…another deferral. And by the third year, I gave up hope, believing I couldn’t do it on my own and that it was “wrong” to ask my friends, who were all faster and better runners, to help me train.

Then, in 1999, I read about an opportunity to run the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington, DC as a benefit for a local AIDS organization and I knew that this was my chance to run a marathon! I immediately signed up, began telling friends and started lining up pledges!

The night I was scheduled to meet my group, I learned that the program was canceled due to low participation. I cried as I walked the ½ mile back home, seeing my marathon dream disappear (yet again). A week later, a former US Olympic runner named Jeff Galloway wrote me a letter and inviting me to join his training program...and “the rest is history!”

I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in 1999, the Chicago Marathon the following year (shaving off 20 minutes from my finish time!), followed by the NYC Marathon, Steamtown Marathon in Scranton, PA (my "PR") and finally, the Richmond Marathon! And now that I have 5 proud “notches on my belt,” I've decided to run across the country, 13.1 miles at a time!

As a runner and group leader, I can attest to the brilliance of the Galloway training program – a plan that’s opened up the sport of marathoning to men and women across the country – most of whom (like me) probably never thought they’d ever run a marathon in this lifetime!

While crossing the finish line is the “ultimate” moment, it’s the day-to-day workings of this “sane” 6-month run/walk training program that keep many of us coming back year after year! All that Jeff asks of his runners is to run for 60 minutes during the week (which can be accomplished in one 60-minute session, 2 30-minute or 3 20-minute runs). He also recommends mid-week cross training (e.g., swimming, cycling, rowing) and strength training. The long runs, which increase from 3 miles to goal distance in 6 months, happen on the weekends in training groups; it’s the task of the group leader to maintain the pace of the group – with the slowest person setting the pace! Brilliant – or what? And as the group runs get longer and the summer weather sizzles into the triple digits, groups are encouraged to slow down their pace and take longer walk breaks to prevent injury.

The Galloway run/walk program allowed me to accomplish my dream of crossing a marathon finish line…5 times! So, if you’re like me and never thought a marathon was in your future, I say: “Try the Galloway method – you’ll like it!”