5 Common Misconceptions About Race Walking

5 Common Misconceptions About Race Walking
5 Common Misconceptions About Race Walking

I am always surprised by the comments I hear or read from people, around what they think about race walking in general.

Most of the time I sit back and have a good chuckle to myself! What I find more amusing, is that most people find it safer to say negative things from behind the steering wheel or behind an online alias.

So lets go over 5 Common Misconceptions About Race Walking.

Race Walking is a Dying Sport

There are certainly a  few low points over the years with race walking being excluded from the last Common Wealth games.

But in general local and international counts indicate that there is a steady rise in overall participation. Internationally, it continues to grow; at the 2008 Olympic Games, 30 countries were represented in the women’s 20k walk (as against, for example,  22 in the women’s shot put and 18 in the women’s 10,000m), so walking is well up. Added to this growth, is special interest shown in local events like the annual 702 Walk the Talk events in Joburg which draws around 50 000 for a single event!

Race Walking is Only for Old Ladies

As people come on in age, walking in general is a great activity to promote health and fitness and it is not uncommon to see the elderly walking in the local park, pumping their arms in the air. Many people participate in Power Walking or Social Walking which is most of the misconstrued and being race walking.

At it’s very core, Race Walking is exactly that…walking to race! And for this very reason, race walking is for mostly competitive individuals looking for a great sporting challenge.

Race Walking is not a Sport!

The definition of the term sport is as follows “an activity involving physical exertion and skill in which an individual or team competes against another or others for entertainment.” Race Walking ticks all these boxes! Try walking, let alone run a 5000m under 30mins(The top guys go under 19mins)! Race Walking even has a dedicated World Cup and Grand Prix events on the IAAF Calender.

Your Hips Must Hurt!?

Well, to cut the answer short…no, my hips don’t hurt 🙂 It really looks like a race walker is wiggling with their hips but most of the movement is a combination of core muscles. If a race walker would chose one muscle group that gives them grief, it would probably be their shins! Have you ever felt how sore your shins are after sitting in traffic for long periods of time with your feet in flexion. No imagine flexing your shin to promote a heel strike for 2 hours plus!

Competitive Race Walkers are Actually Running

“Hey, that guy is going so fast that he must be running” We get this this all the time but lets look at the definition of race walking. In short, the advancing leg knees to strike with a locked knee and maintain that position until under the buttock. Secondly, both feet when advancing must be in contact with the ground. Now, the faster you go the more chance you have of breaking contact and sometimes when you view a video or photo of a race walker you will notice that they are breaking the rules. Thankfully, the judges on the track need to judge unaided of technology.

Photo sourced via http://racewalkingphoto.blogspot.co.za/

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Pieter V

Stef, great articles. Keep up the good work. Talk the Walk!