While even a daily walk at a casual pace can have numerous health benefits, speeding up your pace can be even better for your cardiovascular fitness and weight loss. What’s more, there are several different walking styles that can help you speed up your pace. Here’s what you need to know about brisk walking, power walking and race walking.
- With your hands relaxed and your elbows bent to 90 degrees, swing your arm forward as the opposite leg takes a step. Your elbows should stay close to your body (avoid chicken winging your elbow) and your forward hand should rise to the level of your sternum.
- As your foot passes beneath the body backward, the opposite arm should follow. This allows your arm to swing behind you. In power walking, this motion is exaggerated slightly, and your hand should complete a motion similar to grabbing an item from your back pocket.
- Be mindful of letting the arm cross diagonally in front of the body. Keep your arms in a plane that allows a smooth front-to-back motion without any wasted effort.
Race walking is a competitive sport with events ranging from 3,000 meters up to 100K. It’s also an Olympic sport and focuses solely on speed. The Olympic distances are either 20K or 50K, with top competitors being able to hold an average pace of six minutes per mile or under.
The key differences between race walking technique and other forms of walking involves the strict adherence to few rules that are assessed by judges along the course. These include:
- One foot must remain in contact with the ground at all times to avoid disqualification
- The leading leg must remain straight from the point of contact until the body passes directly over it
Because of these requirements, you’ll notice race walkers have a rolling hip movement that is distinct to this style. The arms are also normally kept low, rising only to the level of the belly button or just above. Steps are also shorter and quicker in order to achieve the super fast speed needed to compete at the top level of the sport.
WHAT TO KEEP IN MIND
Any time you attempt to increase your walking speed or try a different technique like brisk walking, power walking or race walking, it’s important to start slow and ease into the activity to avoid injury. You can approach this in a few different ways. One method is to ease into your faster walking (or power walking) speed by giving it a try during your current workouts. If your normal walk is 30 minutes, continue walking at the pace you’re comfortable with for the first 10 minutes. After you’ve warmed up, walk at your faster pace for two five minute blocks, resting for a few minutes in between to recover. Finish your walk at your normal pace.
Another way to do it is to set aside one or two of your weekly walks to focus on upping your speed. These interval-type sessions can consist of one to two minutes on (at your faster pace) followed by one to two minutes off (a slower, recovery pace). As time progresses and you build fitness while maintaining proper technique, you can include more or longer fast-paced sessions into your routine.