Spencer’s Corner: Race Walking Can Grow!

For sure Racewalking is not the most popular sport. In fact in T&F Athletics it is rated rather low on the popularity ladder despite being for example in the States by far the most recreational sport 20 years ago, and the number of walkers has further increased since from over 70 million to close to 100 million. This is three times more walkers than runners and joggers.

It is strange that not more people take their walking just one step further and have a go at Racewalking. Walkers are already two thirds of the way to being a RW. Learning the lower body movements is the other third and it is that third which is the cause of so much comments about Racewalking.

We just have to educate the millions out there and tell them what this great sport is and what fun we have doing it. Maybe the new announcement of the WP monthly newsletter called “Walk n’ Talk” will help spreading the good news and increase our numbers in WP.

Last preps for next weeks GP at Youngsfield. All distances are available from 1km for the very young, right up to 20 and 30 km for the hardened and fully converted. I hope for a good turnout, fine weather and as little wind as possible. See you all there.

The session on track for this week.

  1. Warm up, the usual, don’t skip anything.
  2. 100/100m 3 laps, easy bends, getting faster on the straights. Use easy 100’s for technique drills.
  3. Practice 180 degree turns, for reminding your ankles what they must do at speed in GP. Complete 10 fig. 8 walks.
  4. Pacing for Saturday’s GP 8 -15 times 400m, 2min rest after each, at your target race-pace, do not go faster, put pace in your memory bank.
  5. 1200m, 3 laps at 60 to 70%
  6. Stretching for 10 minutes

Good advice
We discussed this point before, but worth mention again in a bit more detail.

You perfected your technique, you worked hard on your endurance and speed, however, you would like to improve further, you would like to tackle longer distances, like 20,30 and 50 km perhaps, without feeling tired, fatigued, washed out and aching leg muscles. Let’s take a closer look at our walking shoes, maybe they have something to do with the problem.

The shoe should protect the bottom of the foot. Adequate protection and a proper amount of cushioning without elevating the heel too far from its natural position. A too high heel distorts the racewalking motion. Anything in excess of 1,5 cm is excessive. A long distance, heavy, thick soled and highly cushioned running shoe, is not suitable for racewalking, at least not if you want to walk fast and for a long time. As a walker’s heel comes down on a soft high heel shoe, it acts like a micro version of walking on sand. Your foot sinks into the sand as you load your weight on it and you quickly get tired leg muscles. Walking fast in the wrong shoes causes a similar fatigue. Remember you can walk slow in any type of shoe, even without any shoes at all.

The shoe platform should not be rigid at the forefoot, like so many cross trainers and jogging shoes are. A forefoot sole that is rigid acts like a governor, it hinders you, it fights the natural bending movement of the foot at toe-off and causes fatigue in the legs. Each foot has 26 bones, 56 ligaments, and 38 muscles. It is a very complex piece of biomechanical work. For all this lot to function naturally without any impediment you have to help the best you can, not restrict and hinder the proper racewalking technique to be applied.

A good walking shoe should have a firm heel counter at the back of the shoe, the forefoot should be flexible, have a low enough heel, a wide toe box to accommodate the widening of the forefoot when the body weight is loaded onto it. The toe box should also be high enough to give toes adequate clearance.

Previous Heel and Toe: Lopez almost breaks 38mins for 10000m
Next Spencer’s Corner: Old Race Walking Rules vs New Race Walking Rules

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2 Comments on "Spencer’s Corner: Race Walking Can Grow!"

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Robert @55CommunityGuide

Any recommendations on shoes for race walking? Brands/models?


Hi Robert, personally i like a flat and flexible shoe. I have always been a fan of Adidas and current use the Adizero range for racing and the glider range for training.

Mizuno also make a great shoe for race walking, Wave Rider for training and the Siyonara for racing.