Club Northwest Racewalking
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Copyright 2012
Club Northwest




2. Runner’s cross-training


Many of our racewalkers, lined up here to start a 5K, also run in other events.

Ever get in a slump running where you know you can’t do more miles because you get one ache or pain after another, or maybe your knee or back get sore, or your quads are strong but your hamstrings act up? Ever feel like just one of the pack and you get lost in the crowd? Racewalking may be the answer.

Racewalking, because one of the rules is one foot must be on the ground at all times, doesn’t beat you up like running does. The skeletal system gets a break. Even in my best marathoning days, I could do 2-3 hours running and be trashed for several days. In racewalking, I did five hour walks at times, and the only symptom was I got tired. The only real limit, unless some specific overuse injury crops up, is how much energy do you want to use?  Even there, I could pop into a Seven Eleven and chug a soda and cookie, and continue on. Racewalking is thus much easier on the knees and back than running because running works against gravity, while walking works with gravity. You don’t need to leave the ground to walk.  

Because of a straight knee on landing, racewalking doesn’t require lifting the quads, but instead the calf and hamstrings do the main work. This helps balance the leg muscles used in running and strengthens the hamstrings and provides excellent cross-training. Racewalking doesn’t pound you while providing aerobic work and this muscle strengthening work. Since racewalking also emphasizes armswing, this can carry over to running as I see many runners who could use  better arm action. And the vigorous arm action also strengthens your core chest and abdominal muscles. I’ve found I need much less sit-up type work now versus running.

I’ve also had minor running or racewalk injuries, during a time I both ran and racewalked, where I couldn’t run but could racewalk, and vice versa, so had a fitness option. I’ve had several friends who switched to racewalking temporarily while a running injury healed, with great success in maintaining fitness. There is enough carry over from the two sports that you can compete successfully in both and many racewalkers use running as their cross-training.

So, give racewalking a try to spice up and vary your training. Another advantage is there are fewer racewalkers so when you show up for a racewalk event, your odds of a high finish increase dramatically. With a little talent and effort, you can be at the front of the pack, versus the middle, and may decide this is the new sport for you. (return to home page)