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Race Walking: A Step Towards Fitness

July 7, 2016 by HealthyFamiliesBC

Race Walking

Last week I wrote a list of nine ways to “step-up” your walking game. The last suggestion was to make your walk more of a workout. One of the ways to do this is to speed up your walk game through race walking.

Race walking is a sport where participants compete in events ranging from 1500 m (at the junior level) to 50 km (at the world class level). But, just like ordinary walking or running, you can race walk anytime and anywhere. To get a better picture of what this sport is all about, I got in touch with Olympic-bound race walker, Evan Dunfee and asked some questions.

Question: The rules of race walking can be a bit confusing, how would you explain it simply?
Evan: Race walking has two rules that differentiate it from running. The first rule is that one foot must always be in contact with the ground. The second rule is that the advancing [front] leg has to be straight at the knee when it comes in contact with the ground.

Question: Any tips for a beginner wanting to try it out?
Evan: Just get out there and walk. Race walking is much lower impact than running is which makes it perfect for people with joint pain that prevents them from running. For people just looking to get out there for exercise don’t worry too much about the technique, as long as you’re pumping away with your arms and legs you will see the benefits  For people who are more interested in taking up the event competitively I’d point them in the direction of their local club, or even just reaching out to me on twitter (@evandunfee) and I can help point them in the right direction.

Question: What's your favourite part of race walking?
Evan: Apart from competing (I’m very competitive) I’ve come to love the solitude that comes with a long 40 km walk and the endorphin rush after a hard interval session.

Question: How many steps do you take in the 50 km race?
Evan: My average cadence [pace] for a 50km race is over 190 steps per minute, and I take over 40,000 steps to complete the distance.

If you would like to see some live race walking action, look no further than the summer Olympics in Rio this July. What’s even better is that Inaki Gomez, Ben Thorne, and Evan Dunfee, all from British Columbia, have been performing especially well (including a silver medal at worlds!) and should be on the start line in Rio. Way to go boys and best of luck!

Related blogs

5 Summer Olympic and Paralympic Sports to Try

Recommended resources

BC Athletics: Race Walking
Australian Institute for Sports: Race Walking



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