point you will want to test yourself in a race.
Our informal Second Saturday races are a great way to start.There are many opportunities considering walkers
are welcome at most running events as well as the
more limited walking only events. For your first
race, pick a flat course and short distance. Hilly
courses are very tough on the knees as walkers straighten
the leg rather than flexing on the downhills. It
is also very difficult to walk legally downhill.
A short distance is good if you don't have racing
experience because there is a natural tendency to
start way too fast. In a short race your can usually
get through it even if you start too quickly.
a few shorter races you will learn pacing and can
tackle longer challenges. It has been shown that
fairly even pacing is the most efficient use of
effort and makes for the fastest times. Starting
too fast usually results in a big slowdown and starting
too slowly can leave you feeling good at the finish
but not doing your best time. Even pacing is more
important in walking than in running because of
the form requirement. If you get too tired, it will
be difficult to walk legally in the important latter
stages of the race. The top walkers gradually accelerate
throughout a race.
main top level racing distances in walking are the
Olympic distances of 20 Kilometers for women and
20 KM and 50 KM for men. The 50 KM racewalk at 31
miles is the longest Olympic event. Most races are,
however, held at shorter distances. One mile,
3KM (1.86 miles) and 5 KM (3.1 miles) and 10K are
also very popular and don't require quite the training
commitment. Walking is intended to be a distance
sport however and I've found that the short distances
require such intense effort that longer distances
with lesser intensity are more fun to race. It will
all depend on your own mental and physical makeup
and abilities. If your talent is speed, the shorter
events may well be your strong point. For those
like me with more endurance muscles, the longer
distances are more enjoyable.
competitive distances are long because
it is difficult to judge legal form at
the high speeds world class walkers travel.
The women's world record pace for 10Km
is well under 7 minutes per mile and the
world record for the men's 50KM race is
under 7 minutes per mile! Training distances
will depend on your racing goals. 50 KM
walkers at top levels walk 125-150 miles
a week. Obviously this is all most of
them do. Your own schedule and demands
will determine what is possible for you.
To race well at 10KM requires a minimum
of 30-40 miles a week, with speed sessions
and some longer walks of 2 or more hours.
During the base season, some 50-60 miles
a week should be done to build up the
walkers should do 50-60 miles a week with a good
mix of speed sessions and distances up to 3 hours.
To race 50KM, a minimum of 70-80 miles a week is
necessary with walks of 5 hours or more common.
You can finish these distances on less mileage,
but you cannot expect to reach top level times or
your own top potential on much less. You can somewhat
get around the total training needed if you can
at least do the high mileage every other or every
to vary your workouts in the hard-easy system anyway.
So, if it's impossible to walk 70-90 miles every
week, go for high and low weeks where you at least
hit the high every few weeks. Work your high weeks
in when your work or family schedules are lighter
and go easier on busier weeks.