Spencer’s Corner: WPA Grand Prix 30km Race Walk

With the 4th Grand Prix on 3/9 over, we can now look forward to the SA Racewalking Champs on October 8th. No doubt, many walkers on hearing the wind whistling at their bedroom windows at 05h00 decided to give this GP a miss, turning over for a couple more hours of snoozing. Turnout could have been better that day. Despite unfavorable conditions I decided to join Martin Mroko, Fundiswa Sandi and Frieda Blignaut for the 30km event, managing a respectable 3:24:57 and second place behind Martin. It was Frieda’s first attempt in a fine 3hrs 35 min. and Fundi on 3hrs 33min. some distance behind myself, could not get near her previous PB of 3hrs 21min. Best walking performance of the day surely goes to the twelve year old young lady Nikita, who has recently joined Bellville AC, 3km in a time of 18:20 with better things to come, no doubt.

Let’s hope the southeaster will stay away on next month big national event at Youngsfield.

Let us make full use of the next few weeks and train hard and smart. Come along Wednesday’s for a good speed session, you be surprised what improvements you can make. I looked up some archives from GP1 and 2. From a few walkers. Make it your goal to improve and set new targets. Here are some results to remind you of the past. No Km’s mentioned times are self-explanatory.

Nikita 19:33, (see comment above), Amore 32:27 & 18:33 Gerhard 28:07, Isabel 74:59, Erdine 65:23, Frieda 69:51 & 2:22:00 & 3:35:00, Carlyn 65:48 & 64:40, Gail 64:46, Pam 67:50, Carol-Ann 73:03, Suzelle 66:07,Wendy 70:26, Leza 71:59 & 70:44, Eswee 2:15:00, Kenny 2:17:00, Adam 2:04:00. Ebrahima 2:05:00 & 2:04:00, Dennis 2:06:00 &3:10:27, Raymond 2:15:00, Deborah 2:18:00, Jackie 2:19:00, CJ 2:25:00, and more recent Fundi’s 3:21:00 as mentioned earlier.

This weeks session.
1.Warm-up, 1 lap 50%, followed by dynamic flex. exercises, followed by1 lap technique drills.

2.Warm-up, 5 laps 60/70% not faster. Speed is at an easy conversational tempo.

3.Speed work, 95/100% effort, faster than race-pace, with short recovery rest periods. 1200m (3laps) 2min. rest followed by 800m (2laps), 90sec. rest, 400m (1lap), 60sec. rest, 200m (half a lap), 45sec. rest, 200m again to finish at base. Repeat same sequence after 4 min. rest period. Note this applies only for walkers racing 10km and longer distances. 3/5km junior athletes, complete only one set.

4.Warm-down with 1 easy lap and a good static stretching session.

Good advice.
Today a few points to ponder on.

Keep your body calm and quiet.
Excessive body movement will draw unwanted attention from judges. A bobbing head, arms all over the place, bouncing shoulders, high leg swing and knee drive, these are all unnecessary. Furthermore they waste energy which is better saved for the last five minutes or so in a race. Focus on quieting your body down, put your concentration on going forward, not up and down and side to side. Concentrate on a low knee drive and the lowest possible follow through with the advancing leg/foot. You could get instant feedback of how good you look by doing it on a treadmill in front of a mirror. If you have the chance, try it.

Short front strike.
A shorter stride in front of the body supports less weight on the advancing leg and at the same time makes it easier to maintain a straightened leg and walk legally correct. The main reason for the dreaded “V” sign from judges is reaching out too far in front. The weight is then loaded on to that leg and the leg begins to bend at the knee. Then the quad muscle has to fire in an attempt to straighten it again. Lengthening your stride is fine at the rear, but that is another point we will cover another day.

Hip drive and rotation
Reach forward with your hip, not just your leg. Using the leg/hip combination in your advance is the single most beneficiary aid towards faster and more efficient racewalking. There are a number of drills and exercises that can help to improve hip rotation, flexibility and general action and awareness. To just concentrate on hips is not likely to make much difference. Strengthening all the main muscles used in racewalking and improving the strength and flexibility of hips, hamstrings, calves and shins, combined with good core strength will help you changing your hips into a powerful weapon while racewalking.


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