In order to improve in an endurance sports like race walking, you can choose between increasing the distance or reducing the time needed to cover a set distance.
In this article, we will look at the second option: improving your time.
Naturally, to do this, the challenge is to walk faster. So, in order to gradually improve your average speeds and your personal best times, we asked the advice of Keny Guinaudeau, the French 5000m indoor champion.
Technique, rules, specific training and GPP: let's slash those personal best times.
IN ORDER TO WALK FAST, YOU NEED TO WALK PROPERLY!
As you know, race walking is a particularly technical sport. Indeed, it is by improving your walking technique that you will gain speed. Rather than expending more energy with each stride, it is actually a smoother more simple technique that will speed up your stride motion. As you improve your execution and technique, you will also improve your endurance by not wasting your energy expenditure:
“With race walking, I start by improving my technique before trying to gain speed. Walking is an endurance sport that often involves long distances. Conserving energy is therefore essential and the capacity to conserve energy is obtained by working on one's technique.”
THERE IS NO POINT IN RUNNING… THIS IS WALKING
What's more, the importance of having the right technique is not just about saving energy:
“We must also comply with certain technical regulations: one foot in contact with the ground at all times and the supporting leg must be straight as the body passes directly above it. So, you need to work on your technique in many areas, but you also need to build up power in the foot.”
Indeed, as Keny explains, there are two sides to having good race walking technique. In addition to gaining speed by moving better, the stride is not forced and this prevents mistakes.
So the aim is to move as smoothly as possible in order to increase the tempo. Another important point is that it is the technical precision of your foot in contact with the ground that increases the power.
USING INTERVAL TRAINING TO SLASH YOUR PBS
After these elements of information on the importance of technique in reducing your times, let's move onto the speed work itself!
As is often the case in athletics, progress involves interval training:
“Then, I do interval training in order to really improve my speed. I start over short distances, 100m or 200m, which I repeat several times. Then, I increased the distance up to 1000m and repeat this several times. Thanks to this speed work over these different distances, I improve my speed and my ability to withstand long distances for the 5000m.”
So here are a few options for slashing your personal best times using interval training:
- on flat ground, walk fast for 30 seconds and then walk slowly for 30 seconds. For example, 2 series of 8x30/30, with 4 minutes of recovery between series.
- And if you like working on slopes, you can do the same exercise (2 series of 8x30/30) alternating between 30 seconds walking fast uphill and 30 seconds of relaxed downhill walking.
- Finally, as Keny explained, you can start with a series of 100m/100m, followed by 200m/200m, etc.The benefit of this method is that you can easily see the progress you are making.
A final word of advice about interval training. Give yourself enough time to recover between your intensive sessions and your racing events:
“In general, I complete my biggest interval training session 10 days before competitions.”
GAIN IN STRENGTH WITH THE GPP
Naturally, interval training coupled with a particular focus on technique can put pressure on the legs… but not only that! To improve your speed, you need to strengthen your abs. This will help you improve your technique as well as your ability to withstand high levels of effort:
“It is also very important to develop muscular resistance by building your core strength and doing a few weight training exercises.”
So let's go for the general physical preparation (the celebrated GPP)? Here are a few examples of muscle strengthening exercises:
Press-ups to strengthen the upper body and abdominal exercises to build your core strength. As for the lower body, there are lunge, chair and side leg raise exercises for working on the leg muscles.
As with all these exercises, you can start with 3 series of 30 seconds and 30 seconds of recovery between the series.
So, what are your new personal best times? Share your advice and experiences with us on your race walking speed training and feel free to tell us if you liked this article!