Racewalking Workouts, Drills, and Schedule

Racewalking. rhoon/Digital Vision Vectors/Getty Images

Once you have learned the racewalking technique, you can put it to work with walking workouts and drills. By varying your walking workouts, you will develop speed, improve your aerobic metabolism and V02 max, and build muscle and performance.

Racewalking Training Effects

Racewalking employs more muscle groups than regular walking, which means you have a higher exercise intensity when racewalking, similar to running. It is a vigorous-intensity activity while brisk walking is a moderate-intensity activity. Your heart and lungs will be working harder.

The key to racewalking workouts is not to exceed your lactate threshold, which happens if you work out so hard and long that your body builds up lactic acid in the muscles. This occurs when you work out at 90 percent or more of your maximum heart rate for more than 50 minutes. By knowing your maximum heart rate and using a heart rate monitor, you can ensure that you are working out at the right pace for the various workouts.

Racewalking Workout Schedule

This weekly suggested schedule is recommended in Dave McGovern's racewalk clinic. It's designed to hone all aspects of your racewalking performance—speed, endurance, and aerobic fitness. With each workout, pay attention to your racewalking form and posture.

Each hard workout day is followed by a recovery day or rest day so your body has time to repair and build new muscle and the blood supply needed to nourish that muscle. You can modify this schedule as best suits your lifestyle, but try to alternate hard days and easy days.

  • Monday: Rest day. No walking of significant distance or intensity.
  • Tuesday: Economy Workout. This is the speed-building workout. As Dave says, to go faster, you need to go fast.
  • Wednesday: Recovery. Take it easy to let your body build new muscle and energy systems.
  • Thursday: Threshold Workout. This workout builds your aerobic capacity and takes you to the limit.
  • Friday: Recovery
  • Saturday: Threshold Workout.: You can use the same threshold workout as on Tuesday or change it up with intervals vs. steady state workouts.
  • Sunday: Distance Workout. Prepare for longer races with this long, slower workout.

Racewalking Drills

These drills may be practiced during a warm-up. Initially, they should be done slowly to develop correct movements. Later, they can be done at a quicker pace. Begin with at least five minutes of slow walking, then perform the drills for 30 to 40 seconds. Do several repetitions.

  • Shoulder Rotation: While walking, place your hands on your shoulders with your upper arms horizontal and parallel to the ground. Rotate your arms in a backstroke motion.
  • Arm Circles: While walking, hold one arm straight at your side, rotating the other backward (as in the swimming backstroke). Feel a full extension along the side of the torso of the circling arm.
  • Cross-Hip: While walking, cross one foot over the center line of the body with each step. Maximize your hip flex (twist) while keeping your upper body quiet.
  • Still Upper Body: Bend your arms at 90 degrees. Hold your upper arm close to the side of your body, with your forearms parallel to each other. Racewalk with good technique as you hold your arms absolutely still.
  • Back Leg Extension: Racewalk with a long extension behind you, keeping your rear foot on the ground as long as possible. Apply a slight forward lean. Focus on the back leg and roll off the toes before the foot leaves the ground.
  • Quick Step: Take very short, fast racewalking steps with hip flex for a distance of 20 to 30 meters. Work towards increasing the number of steps in a shorter period of time.

    These drills were adapted from the Ero Fit Northwest Racewalk Clinic with coach Judy Heller of Wonders of Walking.