How to Start Racewalk Training

Learn the Technique to Boost Walking Speed

Racewalking Sequence
Racewalking Sequence. Dorling Kindersley/Dorling Kindersley RD/Getty Images

Do you want to tone more muscles, burn more calories per mile and win competitions? Racewalking may be just the sport for you. See how you can achieve high speeds without breaking into a run.

Racewalking vs. Speedwalking

Racewalking is not just walking fast or speedwalking. Although a good fast walking technique borrows posture and arm motion from racewalking, it doesn't use the straight leg technique that gives racewalking its hip rotation. You can walk fast without racewalking if you'd rather not have a form that includes hip rotation.

You can use the racewalking technique to walk faster in events such as 5K charity runs and half marathons. You may beat many runners to the finish line. But racewalking is its own competitive sport as well. You can win judged races at the local level and, if you are good enough, make the Olympic team. It's not just for the young, racewalking also offers opportunities to compete and to achieve national standing for people of all ages.

Racewalking burns more calories per mile than regular walking as the straight leg technique forces you to use more muscles. You will find that it can raise your heart rate from the moderate intensity level to the vigorous intensity level. You might use racewalking as a way to boost the intensity of your walking workouts.

Basics of Racewalking Technique

Coach Judy Heller of ERO-FIT and Associates shares a beginner's course in racewalk technique for you to learn the basics of the sport. It includes:

  • Racewalking Technique Step by Step: See the technique you use to racewalk. This includes posture, arm motion, and the distinct stride. You must keep your knee straight from the time your forward foot contacts the ground until it passes under your body. You must keep one foot on the ground at all times. This results in hip rotation that is the hallmark of racewalking.
  • Racewalking Mistakes to Avoid: These mistakes can get you disqualified or just slow you down. They include violating the lifting and bent knee rules. But you might also be using the wrong arm swing, overstride, or lean too much.
  • Racewalking Workouts and Drills: Once you learn the technique, you need to put it into practice regularly. See a workout schedule to build your racewalk speed and endurance and drills to help you with different aspects of your technique.

Racewalking Coaching and Resources

You will need coaching and feedback to learn the correct racewalking technique. It's easy to get it wrong and will take a lot of observed practice to do it right. Use these resources to further your interest in racewalking.

  • Racewalking Books and Videos: Find out more about the basics of racewalking and advanced techniques with books and videos at They include full clinics on DVD. These books and videos are very helpful in learning more about the sport.
  • Racewalking Clinics and Coaching: Finding a coach or clinic is essential to learn racewalking. You can search for a racewalking coach on LinkedIn. Coach Dave McGovern offers clinics several times each year around the United States. Racewalking is simply too unnatural of a motion to get right without coaching.
  • Racewalking Clubs: Find racewalking clubs around the world to meet and compete with. Being part of club with regular competitions and being judged for your form is the best way to develop as a racewalker. Plus, you will begin to gather ribbons, medals, and trophies from races.

Racewalking History and Humor

It's a noble sport with deep roots in track and field competition, including a long history in the Olympic Games. But that doesn't stop modern viewers and commentators from casting aspersions on racewalkers. You can take umbrage, learn to roll with the punches, or leave them in your dust.

  • No Respect for Olympic Racewalking: NBC sports commentators can't resist making snide comments about racewalkers during the Olympic Games. It doesn't matter that they are racing in an event that is longer than a marathon or setting world records. And then there is that Snickers commercial...
  • Racewalking Slogans and Comebacks: Racewalkers get a lot of comments when they pass by runners, regular walkers and people just hanging around. Here are the lines they wish they had said in response, plus edgy and fun sayings suitable for t-shirts.
  • A Brief History of Walking: Walking had its glory days, with kings competing, huge prize money at stake, and actual respect. All of that ended once running took over in the past century. Find out more about the history of this noble sport.
  • Fastest Marathon and 50K Walkers: See the records set over the years by men and women who have walked the long distance races. The standard 50-kilometer distance is several miles longer than the 26.2-mile marathon.
Was this page helpful?
Article Sources
  • Ainsworth BE, Haskell WL, Herrmann SD, et al. 2011 Compendium of Physical Activities. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. 2011;43(8):1575-1581. doi:10.1249/mss.0b013e31821ece12.