Neil Featherby: So what’s the big deal with ‘Jeffing’ then?

Jeffing - a mix and match for runners. Picture: Archant

Jeffing - a mix and match for runners. Picture: Archant - Credit: Ian Burt

Earlier this week I asked a dozen regular readers of these On The Run columns what they would like me or Mark to write about in forthcoming articles.

Over half of them said, why not write about the current popularity of 'Jeffing'?

I have touched on this before, not specifically where, when and how the term 'Jeffing' came about – if I am honest, up until recently I wasn't even sure myself.

Jeffing is a term used by those who like to mix walking with running, particularly beginners who are new to it all. The terminology basically comes from the former top American athlete, Jeff Galloway, who has been advocating run/walk programmes since 1974.

Jeff was very much a top athlete himself and one I remember very well. Not only was he a 1972 Olympian at 10,000m and a 2:16 marathon runner, but he also has pretty impressive PBs at all distances from the mile upwards. Now in his 70s, he is still very fit and active, whilst writing various blogs and articles for magazines, and has many followers on his own Youtube channel for which he gives all sorts of advice on everything running.

However, and with regards to advocating this run/walk mix of training to beginners or to those who are desperate to try and increase their mileage, this has also been advocated by lots of coaches and experts for years.

I have also advised this approach for several years as it does most certainly allow for a more economical effort whilst also reducing the risk of fatigue and injuries. It doesn't just stop there though as mixing, or Jeffing (whichever you prefer), has also helped many a person complete marathons and other long distance races in a faster time than when having tried to run all the way and then being forced to slow down to nothing more than a very painful shuffle due to excessive fatigue. At the same time, many top ultra-runners have also broken world records by 'mixing it.'

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Nevertheless, there are those who feel that unless you are fully trained and able to run all the way, then anything else doesn't really count. In other words if you toe the line of a race, be it a 10k or indeed a marathon, you should be fully prepared and ready to run.

One former world record holder said he didn't believe starting and finishing a marathon made you a marathoner and racing one is completely different to just getting round. He also said that relying on gadgets and products to help you run better is just a distraction from teaching runners to run within their limits and coping with the stress which distance running is all about.

However, he did also say that whilst running has changed so much since his day, when all runners were running hard to achieve fast times, nowadays, particularly amongst the masses, it is more about just being part of it, which in some ways is good, but in other ways is not so good.

Without mentioning his name, he is to me and so many others a legend, but I don't necessarily agree with all of what he says. I do agree with his thoughts about distractions when it comes to those who want to be as good as they can possibly be, as for them there should only be one way and that is for them to get their heads down and train as hard as possible without looking for any short cuts.

For those whose only aspiration is to get round, though, then whether they run, jog or indeed 'Jeff,' it is probably fair to say that the most important thing to remember when all is said and done is that it all comes down to what gives each individual person their own satisfaction.

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