For only the second time this year I was back with our Tuesday night training group at Battersea Park . Although tonight there were just two of us – Dan and myself – along with our coach, Mark Culshaw, who had his camera.
Dan and I race at a similar speed over the shorter distances (29 to 30 minutes for 5km and a little over the hour for 10km) but as you will see in the video, we have very different styles.
Definition of Race Walking (From the I.A.A.F. Rule covering Race Walking)
- Race Walking is a progression of steps so taken that the walker makes contact with the ground, so that no visible (to the human eye) loss of contact occurs. The advancing leg shall be straightened (i.e. not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the vertical upright position.
Race walking events are normally judged under either ‘A’ grade or ‘B’ grade rules. ‘A’ grade applies both of the above two rules (continuous contact with the ground and straight leg) but ‘B’ grade only applies the continuous contact rule – which at my speed, isn’t a problem for me.
I don’t really have any ambition to compete in ‘A’ grade races although I am sure that I will one day – once I resolve my bent knee problem.
And races of more than 50km in distance (my focus is on 100km+ events) do not usually apply the ‘A’ grade straight leg rule anyway. It would be almost impossible for a race-walker to maintain a straight leg for 24 hours for example as during races of that length the body goes through a lot of stress, exhaustion, etc, and the athlete needs to regularly adjust their stride and style in order to keep moving forwards.
But having said that, it is interesting to view the differences in styles between Dan and I.
Dan has a faster cadence (leg turnover) than I do (and in most of the video I am trying to turn my legs over as fast as possible). In training and long distance races my cadence is much lower than in the video.
In the side on shots you can definitely see that my knee is bent. Coach Mark says that I need to pull my toes up just before my foot hits the ground and that should help to straighten the leg.
As a runner I used to have a long stride and in walking my stride is also considerably longer than Dan’s. This is probably due to my height as much as anything.
One good thing I have going for me is that I have good arm drive. In race-walking, as in running, your arms and legs are in sync, and what I discovered very quickly after I took up walking was that if I moved my arms faster, my legs would automatically move faster, and therefore my speed would increase.
Anyway, they are some general observations. I will ask Mark to add his thoughts / comments to this blog post at some stage, and then hopefully in six months time we can do some more video analysis and compare the differences, and (hopefully) the improvements in both my technique and my speed.