Entering the world of competitive race walking
Most of us, providing we’re fit and able, walk everyday without ever really thinking about it.
Ambling to the shops, pottering around the house or taking a stroll through town are all good for your health and wellbeing, but if you’re looking for ways to boost your fitness, why not try taking walking to the next level?
Competitive walking, also known as race walking, is a sport that raises your endurance, gives you a great aerobic workout and burns more calories than either walking or running. You can compete at all levels, from fun runs to serious races, and it’s a great way to get fit.
Stretching your legs
Race walking is a recognised discipline of athletes and is even an Olympic sport, but it’s also a great sport for beginners to get started in. There are some specific technique rules that make race walking different from running and power walking. For a start, you must be in contact with the ground at all times, so there should always be a part of your foot down at any one time and you can only lift the back foot’s toe when the front foot’s heel touches the ground.
You also need to keep the knee of the supporting leg straight from the time it hits the ground until it passes under the torso. For more information about the official rules, have a look at the Athletics Race Walk site.
When you first start practicing race walking, you’ll want to spend a lot of time making sure you get the technique just right. Then, when you’re confident you’ve nailed it, you can start working on your speed. Paying extra attention to technique and giving yourself time to develop muscles in the right areas means you’re far less likely to suffer an injury. Finding a local club or training group is a great way to make sure you’re learning correctly, and Race Walk have an excellent list of resources in the UK.
Enjoying the benefits of race walking
To make the most of your race walking, you should make sure that you buy the appropriate footwear. You need a lightweight shoe that has a fairly thin sole, preferably one designed for racing. It’s a good idea to buy your shoes from a sportswear shop where knowledgeable assistants can help you assess your foot type and find you the kind of trainers that will offer the best support when you get out on the road.
The aerobic benefits of race walking make it a good choice for giving your heart a helping hand while putting less of a strain on your joints than running. It’s a sport that can be enjoyed by people of all ages, whether you’re five or 95, and it tends to be a very friendly sport. Have a look at the Race Walking Associate site to find more information about the sport and make connections with other people who are keen to learn.
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