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her Q & A: Shelly Dinkin discusses Olympian Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk-Run method

If you've resolved to run a marathon or half marathon in 2013, you're not alone.

But here's something you might not know: It's OK to walk. Just ask the many people who swear by Olympian Jeff Galloway's Run-Walk-Run method, which has a strong following in the Chattahoochee Valley.

Interested? Local program director Shelly Dinkin chatted with us about the Galloway method. This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

How did you get involved with the local Galloway program?

The owners of Big Dog Running Company approached me in early 2011. They said they were forming a Jeff Galloway Run Walk program in Columbus and were planning to run the program as a sponsored service through the store. They asked me if I was interested in becoming the program director for our area.

I have to admit that I had to think about it for a minute because, like so many other runners, I wasn't sure if a "run-walk" program was for me. I took the opportunity to research the program and the method. What I learned is that the program only requires you to run three days per week and is designed to minimize the risk of injury to the body.

Why is the Galloway program a good option for women looking to get in shape in 2013?

Well, first of all I want to say that the Galloway program is a good option for anyone who wants to get in shape. The way I look at it is that the benefits come in two categories: mental and physical. The more obvious benefits of improved general health, weight control and prevention of bone and muscle loss are almost overshadowed, in my opinion, by the mental benefits such as building confidence and self-estreem, relieving stress and strengthening one's mental discipline.

Is it possible to lose weight by combining running and walking?

Oh, yes! It's not only possible, it's probable. The facts are that by maintaining a low heart rate throughout exercise, you will burn more fat and less muscle. Jeff Galloway talks about this in his book, "Training Programs," which is provided to all members when they join the program. Over the training season I have seen the physical change in so many of our runners. I think that is what contributes to greater confidence and self-esteem.

What kind of support system does the local Galloway program provide?

The social aspect of running is so important. In this program we have three group runs per week -- two during the week, and a "long" run on Saturday morning. While members of the Jeff Galloway program can certainly run on their own, we strongly encourage participating in our group runs.

Once the running groups start to gel and bond, that strength permeates within everyone in the group. Members stay motivated, coach each other, and actually feel a responsibility to one another to be there. Running is hard work and there are good days and bad days. When you have that kind of support system, you are more likely to make it through on the bad days, when you may have just skipped it altogether.

How has running changed your life?

Running has changed my life in so many ways that it's actually become my lifestyle. I started running one year when I made a New Year's resolution to lose weight and get in shape. I recall my first Saturday morning run with the Columbus Roadrunners group. Everyone was asking questions like, "What are you training for?"

The farthest I had ever run was 6 miles, so I never even considered that I could run longer distances. Seven marathons and countless half marathons later, I have not only lost and maintained weight, I have gained confidence and have cultivated a tremendous social circle around the lifestyle.

But the greatest change in my life is the gratification I feel from watching others grow and achieve their goals as they train with us. I have heard time and time again things like, "I just don't think I'll ever be able to do it." But each time one of our runners cross the finish line and get the medal placed around their neck, I know I've made a difference in another person's life.

If someone wants to try the Galloway program in 2013, what's a good starting point?

Primarily we train for full marathons, which are 26.2 miles and half marathons, which are 13.1 miles. To be successful in the Galloway program, we recommend that runners have completed at least one 5K or that they can run 3 miles. This is because we increase our mileage every week.

If a runner would like to join the program and still needs to get to the 3-mile point, I recommend the Couch to 5K program that the Columbus Roadrunners puts on free of charge six times per year. We are forming groups right now for our 2013 summer races. For more information about the Galloway program, people can contact

Big Dog Running Company, access the Jeff Galloway website at or contact me directly at I hope to see you out there!


Job: Columbus, Georgia Jeff Galloway Program, Program Director; also Manager, HR Financial Analysis at Aflac

Hometown: Milwaukee, Wisconsin

Current home: Columbus

Favorite book: Just read all three of the "Hunger Games" books and loved them

Favorite movie: All-time -- "An Officer and a Gentleman," Most recent -- "Argo"

Favorite restaurant: Downstairs at the Loft