Training Manual for Junior Athletes competing to State and National Championships Racewalking
BASIC Guidelines for Training and Racing & Developing
the Junior Athlete and Coach to
State & National Level.
Technique, Technique, Technique
I will emphasize Basic guidelines here
as most junior walkers throughout
their development as athletes will have
differing progression levels of ability, motivation and commitment.
Whilst the specifics of each component
of training will depend
on the levels of achievement already reached by an athlete,
general rule will relate directly to most developing athletes.
Those 6 major components are as follows:
These components combined, become the
physical conditioning required for this event
Racewalking as an
event has been much maligned over the years and yet is one of the hardest
physical tests in the athletic arena.It combines speed,
strength and endurance along with technique that is judged subjectively by
independent arbiters of the sport.
At the highest level,
it can flow majestically with some of the fittest athletes in the world
competing and racing on the edge of the envelope for distances covering 1500
meters up to 50,000 meters on road and track down to the junior athlete who are
starting out in the sport, to masters athletes who have been competing for years.
It is a sport that is
embraced by young and old respectively.
As an event, to the
average person, Race walking is somewhat misunderstood. However, to the trained
athlete, coach and advocate of the sport, it represents the basic premise of
walking, to which every human aspires and to which racewalking complies
absolutely to the
Olympic ideal of Citius, Altius, Fortius.
(Faster, Higher, Stronger).
What I have tried to
do here within the following pages is to present a view from an athletes
perspective and a coachs view in regard to managing, conditioning and
competing in the art of race walking from a junior athlete starting out in the
sport to the hardened athlete competing at the highest level.
It is born out of 40
odd years of my own competing, training and racing as an athlete and as a coach.
I trust that this can be a useful guide to
those beginning in the sport and a gentle reminder of the basic structure and
requirements to those athletes with many years of experience.
Definition of Racewalking : IAAF Rule
Racewalking 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 ( ie . not bent at the
knee ) from the moment of first contact with the ground until the vertical
Note: The Double Support Phase the heel of the advancing foot
strikes the ground, when the toe of the trailing foot has not yet left the
ground. If this doesnt occur in each
stride, the athlete is not complying with the contact rule.
The appointed judges
of Race Walking shall elect a Chief Judge, if one has not been appointed
All the Judges shall
act in an individual capacity and their judgments shall be based on
observations made by the human eye.
competitions held under Rule 1.1(a), all Judges shall be International Race
Walking Judges. In competitions held under
Rules 1.1(b), (c), (e) (ii),
(f), (g) and (j), all Judges shall be either Area or International Race Walking Judges.
For road races,
there should normally be a minimum of six to a maximum of nine Judges including
the Chief Judge.
For track races,
there should normally be six Judges including the Chief Judge.
competitions held under Rule 1.1(a) not more than one Judge from any Country
Note (Rule 1.1 refers
to International races IAAF)The Role of the Coach / Coaches Code
The coachs primary role is to facilitate the process of
individual development through achievement of Athletic potential. This role
accepts the athletes long term interests as of greater importance than short
term athletic considerations. To fulfill this role the coach must behave in an
ethical manner. By becoming a member of the (A T & F C A), a coach agrees
to be held accountable for any breach of the following points:
- Coaches must respect the basic
human rights, that is, the equal rights, of each athlete with no
discrimination on the grounds of gender, race, color, language, religion,
political or other opinion, national or social origin, association with a
national minority, birth or other status.
- Coaches must respect the
dignity and recognize the contribution of each individual. This includes
respecting the right for freedom from physical or sexual harassment and
- Coaches must ensure that
practical environments are safe and appropriate. This appropriateness must
take into consideration the age, maturity and skill level of the athlete.
This is particularly important in the case of younger or less developed
- Coaches must acknowledge and
respect the Rules of Competition. This respect should extend to the spirit
as well as to the letter of the rules, in both training and competition,
to ensure fairness of competitive opportunity between all athletes.
Coaches must exhibit an active respect for officials, by accepting
the role of the officials in providing judgment to ensure that
competitions are conducted fairly and according to the established rules.
- Coaches must accept final responsibility
for the performance and conduct of the athletes they coach, while at the
same time encouraging the independence and self determination of each
athlete by their acceptance of responsibility for their own decisions,
conduct and performance.
- Coaches must assert a positive and
active leadership role to prevent any use of prohibited drugs or other
disallowed performance enhancing substances or practices. This leadership
by coaches includes education of the athletes of the harmful effects of
prohibited substances and practices.
- The coach must acknowledge that
all coaches have an equal right to desire the success of the athletes they
coach - competing within the rules. Observations, recommendations and
criticism should be directed to the appropriate person outside the view or
hearing of the public domain.
- Coaches must never solicit,
either overtly or covertly, athletes who are receiving coaching to join
their squad or change their coaching situation without first involving the
current personal coach or coaches.
- The coach must acknowledge and
recognize that all athletes have a right to pursue their athletic
potential, including when an athletes development would benefit from a
change of coaching situation. The coach should ensure that, in these
cases, any formation of a coaching partnership or transfer to another
coach is actively explored with the athlete, whose decision is supported.
- Coaches should hold recognized
coaching qualifications. Coaches should respect that the gaining of
coaching qualifications is an ongoing commitment, achieved through the
upgrading of their knowledge by attendance of accredited courses and
through practical coaching experience. Coaches also have a responsibility
to share the knowledge and practical experience they gain.
- Coaches must respect the image of
the coach and the reputation of the Association and continuously maintain
the highest standards of personal conduct, reflected in both the manner of
appearance and behavior, so that they do not bring Coaching or the
Association into disrepute.
- Coaches must never smoke while
coaching or in the presence of athletes, nor consume alcoholic beverages
so soon before coaching that it affects their competence or that the smell
of alcohol is on their breath.
must enter into full cooperation with all individuals and agencies that
could play a role in the development of the athletes they coach. This
includes working openly with other coaches, using the expertise of sports
scientists and sports physicians and displaying an active support of their
National Federation and the IAAF.
My Coaching Philosophy
For a Coach to be absolutely
functional, he must have the hearts and the minds of the athletes that he is
responsible to, so that they may, in turn, have the respect and trust to
believe that the coach is acting always in their interests.
First and foremost,
he must be a great communicator and have the ability to relate to each athlete
individually, to see to how and what each athlete needs and responds to on any
given instruction and to apply teaching and coaching strategies accordingly, to
The Coach must have
the foundation of good knowledge of the sports techniques, requirements and
A good Coach will
always take a long term view to his athletes and will never compromise their
abilities for short term gain. Along
with this, comes the responsibility of standing beside your athlete at all
times, sharing the ups and downs, the wins and losses, the hard and the good
A good Coach must be
able to guide, lead, reflect, encourage and connect with the athletes with a
consummate knowledge and understanding of the sport and a determination to help
those athletes succeed in their chosen event.
We are there for the athletes. No
When an athlete
starts in a sport, he / she is there having Fun. When their abilities take them further and to
higher competition, it becomes a serious business
Just remember to have some
FUN along the way.
As every athlete in
the world aspires to be the best, help them become the best that they can be
Enjoying the ride as they go.
The major components of racewalking that need to be
Technique, Specific endurance, Endurance, Speed, Mobility
and Strength endurance
The Skill of
Racewalking is defined and refined over many years of training and racing.
Working on Technique should be first and foremost in any and all developing
athletes . Everything else falls into place (speed, strength and endurance)
once good technique has been established.
In order of
importance, Technique is by far the most important component and has to be
worked on constantly.
While the physical
conditioning and preparation will enhance and improve the athletes skill
accordingly, sound technique will greatly enhance mechanical efficiency and
energy conservation and will reduce the chances of disqualification.
is an athletes ability to adhere to the rules of racewalking while covering
the most amount of ground in the least amount of time with the minimum amount
In other words - his
efficiency. Each athletes own style is
different but improvements to a few basic components can improve performance
Whilst the specifics
of each component of training for racewalking will depend totally on the levels
of achievement already reached by an athlete, the general rule will relate
directly to most developing athletes.
racewalkers do very little technical training having once established a basic
technique. Consequently, the chance of
faults becoming grooved is high as they are continually rehearsed, thousands of
This is of paramount
importance for our Junior athletes who will experience the taste of success
rather rapidly with increased training volumes and regular training.
immediate successes promote a sense of mastery, where technical faults and
weaknesses will be ignored and hence very difficult to rectify later in an
Three major problem
areas confront many of our walkers:
An obsession with mileage
Lack of Speed and special endurance training
A total lack of a systematic training program.
The neglect of constant referral to technique,
The distance bug is not solely confined to walkers but
they occupy a large percentage of athletes who become obsessed with daily,
weekly and yearly mileages at the expense of other training units.
Coaches and athletes alike must become more broadminded in
their approach to a variance of training venues, distances and training
sessions and become more technique conscious.
Walking is essentially a sustained speed event for even the
When you consider that elite 20klm walkers are walking sub
four minute kilometres and moving in excess of 14kph, a significant percentage
of training time needs to be devoted to developing this specific speed
Posture / Body Position : The
most essential attribute to establish
Most faults in
technique can be attributed to incorrect posture. Sound posture is the ability to hold a body
lean of up to 3- 5degrees with no flexion at the hip joints. Technically, when
the support leg is directly under the body, a straight line should be able to
be drawn through the shoulder, hip, knee and ankle joints.
Many walkers are unable to achieve this due to:
- The pelvis tilted forward which
pulls the hips downwards (known as Hollow-Back, Sway Back or Lordosis).
- Leaning from the hips with
their backside stuck out (this reduces hip rotation, shortens stride
length and frequency)
- Leaning to one side or
excessive lateral hip movement.
- Rounded shoulders will
indirectly affect hip rotation as the elbow angle becomes reduced creating
arm drive across and too close to the body.
- Any structural problems
such as spinal curvature, uneven leg length, foot pronation, flat feet,
etc, etc. Any weakness however
minor will affect technique.
- Many of these problems are
strength related hence the need to develop strong back muscles, internal
and external oblique muscles at the torso and the abdomen.
Forward oscillation of
the hips gives a significant increase in stride length hence the need for
excellent hip / joint mobility.
It allows the
lowering of the recovery leg hip, which shortens the leg pendulum and speeds it
up. It also ensures that the swinging
foot remains close to the ground. Therefore, if a greater rotation of the hips can
be achieved, stride length (up to 10cm) can be increased without increasing
However, there is an
optimum stride length. At full stride,
the angle between the legs reaches 45- 50 degrees, but this will vary
considerably from walker to walker.
An example of the
gain of stride length by proper hip mobility:
A Walker takes 80
strides per minute and her stride length is 1.20mtres. The distance that she covers is 80 x 1.2m =
96 mtres / minute.
If her hip mobility
improves and increases her stride length by 10cm, then 80 x 1.3m = 104 mtres /
This is an example
only, but quite valid reasoning and if this improved hip mobility is
accompanied by an improvement of forces from the ankle, Plantar flexors and the
shortening of the
different racewalking phases and an increase in stride frequency , then an
optimal combination of all of these factors will determine maximum speed.
Put quite simply, -
the athlete who is capable of maintaining the fastest leg frequency and optimal
all other factors being equal WILL WIN .
SPEED = SF x SL
(stride frequency x stride length)
Arm Drive and Shoulder Action
The shoulders and arm
action work together to absorb angular momentum (rotation) created by the legs
and hips and transmit it to the trunk.
So the shoulders can
absorb rotation, they should be kept low and the muscles surrounding, relaxed. A slight shoulder dip will be produced and it
must be just sufficient so as to maintain the centre of gravity at a constant
level. Too much dip produces excessive
lateral sway of the hips.
The arms can be used
rapidly if carried at approx 90degrees This action is the most efficient
angle for fast, balanced, vigorous arm action. If the elbow angle reduces too much (80 -70
degrees), then the shoulders will excessively roll or rotate. And the opposite applies a low,
pendulumlike arm swing will slow down leg speed.
The range of the arm
swing commences with the hand just forward of the hip seam and the elbow in a
recovery position to the back. The arm
then swings forward, hand kept close to and just above the hip and reaches the
end of the swing with the hand reaching just under chin height and to the
centre of the body. The arms must swing
in a pendulum- like attitude, driving forward and not going below the hip or
behind the hip as this is energy being forced backward.
A correct arm action
fulfills three important functions:
the whole body / racing action.
a horizontal forward hip action and rotation.
ground reaction and increases the rear legs driving force.
need for a strong upper body and strength endurance of the arm action will
ensure that a vigorous arm action is maintained throughout any race and is an
essential component of any training program for racewalking.
is also the term that I refer to as Walking on your arms. When an athlete tires in a race usually, their
arm action slows accordingly. However,
if there is then a greater emphasis and focus only on arm drive (speed), the
legs usually follow suit and the athlete can and will speed up.Leg Drive & Feet Placement
The double support
phase of a walkers stride occurs for only a fraction of a second.
It should be the aim
of every walker to reduce the time taken on this phase.
Contact occurs at the
centre back of the heel first, with the toes as high as possible. This will ensure that the optimal stride
length is attained.
A flexed knee on
contact will greatly reduce jarring and will give a smoother, faster, more
efficient rolling action. The rear leg /
foot will be in a push-off position high on the toe.
To reduce a
propping effect, the heel is placed closer to the athletes projected centre
of gravity. Also, to avoid any unnecessary
vertical movements -
bouncing- the leg
and the foot must not be dropped down short or jammed down to the track. The speed of the stride is directly related to
the strength of the pushing force and to the direction of the rear foot. The major contribution to this force is made
by the ankle plantar flexors during push-off.
The leg should remain
braced throughout the majority of the driving phase. However the leg should not be braced until the
front heel makes contact with the ground as this greatly reduces the speed of
the recovery leg. During the recovery,
the knee is bent at up to 90degrees to allow for a rapid recovery as it sweeps
forward. The foot is kept low to the
ground as this is happening. It is
imperative that the leg is not straightened early during the latter stages of
the forward swing to heel impact. A
powerful hip rotation / action would prevent this from occurring.
Foot placement is
critical and small changes can make a considerable difference to speed and
Heel contact takes
place along a straight line. The body
weight is transferred via the outer border of the foot ending at the big toe. As the foot rolls off the ground, it should
swing forward as low as possible. Ideally, if an athlete were to imprint his
stride, it would align itself along a centre line marginally to the left and
right of that line with the big toe inline.
The use of X-Over
technique is absolutely critical in ensuring that the lead leg lands in a
straightened position, that the hips are rotated sufficiently and that there is
sufficient rear leg drive along with the maximum stride length. Use of this technique in an over accentuated
style will lead an athlete to utilizing all of these techniques when racing
reducing the possibility of disqualification for loss of contact.
SPEED TRAININGAs in distance running, speed is relative and the program of
a novice walker should be tempered with this concept. In regard to the advanced walker, training for
speed needs to be considered under three main types:
- Specific event Speed:-
The maximum speed which can be maintained over the full
- Part event Speed:-
The maximum speed over a distance less than the race
- Maximum Speed:-
The fastest speed over short distances, say 300- 400 mtres,
which the walker can maintain without lifting or loss of contact.
The development of this speed is the object of all training
Co-ordinates the efforts of all other work
It rehearses the body and mind for actual racing
And it develops the skill of pace judgment.
A typical session would include race pace work over the
majority of the event distance. This type of work must be carefully incorporated
into the program as it is physically and mentally very exhausting.
It is best blocked into two, three or more weekly cycles,
followed by two or more weeks of less intensive work to allow full adaptation
and avoid staleness and to prevent the risk of injury.
PART EVENT SPEED
This speed is more closely related to 10klm and 20klm races,
and less closely to the 50klm event. This type of training entails efforts of
between 1 to 5 klm. The speed will be
targetted at race pace or slightly faster than the main race distance. An example of a typical unit of work for an
elite female athlete
Would be: 1-2 sets of 4-5 x 1000m at 4.20 pace with a work
to rest ratio of 1:1.25 or 1:1.5; Or 1 x3000m, 2x 2000m, 3 x 1000m of similar
pace and rest intervals.
It is imperative that with this type of training recovery
times are closely monitored. The pace of
the workout will remain relatively constant throughout the block of the cycle
of work, having once established the desired target times. The best training effect will be achieved by
gradually reducing recovery times and by carefully monitoring the volume of
Note. Always, as a
coach, be prepared to reduce a training module if the athlete is not coping
with the volume of work or intensity. There
is always tomorrow.
Again, because this type of training is monotonous and
physically demanding, it cannot be employed week in, week out and is best
blocked into the program. Improvements
through this regime of training are relatively rapid. It provides: -
reserve of speed for 10 and 20klm racing
A more adequate speed reserve for 50klm racing
And a potential for the development of special event
This speed is not closely related to performance in the 10,
20, and 50klm events. However, sessions involving maximal speed over a distance
of 200m to 400m should be included in the program from time to time. The benefits are:-
That it shocks
the system out of the same regular pace and possibly facilitates a better race
That it provides a quick indication of Technical
That it provides an excellent speed endurance and
aerobic workout, if the recovery between repetitions is kept to a minimum.
That it will provide the necessary confidence if a
Final Sprint is required.
OF SPEED TO ENDURANCE
The ability to perform at a constantly high speed over a
given distance can only be achieved after developing a high level of general
endurance and conditioning. The speed of
this type of training is of critical importance.
As aerobic and strength factors improve, so must the speed
of each endurance workout - the overload factor.
Relaxed, easy paced walks must be carefully blended with
medium to fast paced walks. Too often, walkers become obsessed with slow
mileage at the expense of faster more intensive tempo work.
If you cant do it in training, then how do you expect to
do it in a race?
Note: The obsession with training every day to maintain a
mileage diary for daily workouts is one that should be avoided. JUNK miles are exactly that. To go training when there is no desired
outcome or the body is fatigued and really needs recovery rather than work, is
CIRCUIT TRAINING / WEIGHT
To augment the
training program, weights and circuit training should be implemented on a
The building of Core
Strength in racewalking is absolutely critical as Racewalking is 3 times more
physically demanding than running.
initiated at least once a week is extremely beneficial for conditioning
the heart and lungs
and the overall capacity of the body to tolerate stress.
As a Walkers
strength component of racewalking is paramount for good performance, it must
cover Aerobic Conditioning,
Maximum Strength, Strength Endurance and Speed
In the initial
stages, general conditioning of the body serves as the foundation to work on in
the ability of the
body to improve performance.
Thus the three areas:
Aerobic Conditioning (circuit training etc)
Flexibility should be
worked on before and after all workouts.
Once a body is strong
and conditioned then points 2 and 3 should be utilized each at least once a
week, preferably with a full day between components. General conditioning will apply for at least
3-4 months in Phase 1 and Phase 2. Heavy
work should not continue into Phase 3 but Circuits and Hill work can.
Remembering that all
WORK IS ACCUMULATIVE. It all contributes
to the whole end result.
The aerobic fitness
component, utilizing only body weight resistance or in some cases
very low weight dumbells
or ankle and wrist weights, bringing up the heart rate
and breathing rate
and holding that for a minimum of 20 minutes will give a
training effect which
will relate directly to a race code.
As the body becomes
more conditioned to these loads, and strength endurance levels become more
thus the circuit can
be increased in length.
Given that you have
access to a gymnasium, plan your circuit around whatever equipment is
Try not to put too
many exercises on the same muscle group together, but work alternately on
different muscle groups.
of these exercises could be performed on the track:
Circuit Training -
.. 1 min
D/Bell Arm Swings (walking mode)
Step Ups D/Bell
(30secs each side)
D/Bell Floor to Ceiling
reps each leg
Take 20 seconds
between each exercise and the next and repeat each set 3-5 times dependant on
the athlete and their coping ability/ fitness.
If a runner loses
form or technique toward the end of a race, there are no penalties
across the line as best you can. However,
if a walker cannot hold his form
together, he is a sure to be DQd toward the end of a race.
Young walkers should
concentrate on body weight exercises and dumbell training and at a suitable
age, then learn how to perform lifts correctly and employ stage and circuit
training as a general conditioner and basis for weight training.
There are a variety
of circuits available that will enhance all-round strength, strength endurance
and aerobic capacity. One is limited
only by ones imagination.
The possibilities are
endless. However there are a few
exercises that should not be done by walkers. eg: - Calf raises, Back
hyperextension, Squats, Seated Leg Press, to name a few as they all lead to
tightening of opposing muscle groups to that required for racewalking.
Some examples of
exercises that you can, as a coach extend to your athletes are as follows:-
, Sit Ups
, Leg Flutter Kicks
, Leg X-Overs
, Dumbells Floor to Ceiling
, Dumbells Swings
, Wall Sits
, Single leg, partner squats
on the spot (High Knees)
, Shuttle Runs
, Chin Ups
, Hip Flexor legs to chest
, Punching Bag work etc
These exercises can
be done in sets of reps or timed, dependant on the exercise. Usually 3 sets of 12 exercises are sufficient.
When your athlete can
gravitate toward some weight machines, then try these ..
, Lat Pull Downs
, Leg Extension
, Upright Rowing
, Rowing Machine
, etc, etc
These exercises are
usually done as sets of repetitions.
Warm-ups can include
Laps of a Track, Stationary Bike, Treadmill, Skipping, etc, along with Stretching before and after all
for Senior Walkers
Here again, access to
a Gymnasium is essential.
Object: To improve
the overall strength components throughout the body.
endurance and maximum strengths can be achieved the total conditioning of the
body to accept a given workload must be first achieved. A strong animal must have a base to work
Here again is an
example of a general conditioning program, based on 3 sets of 10 of a
comfortable working weight determined by the athlete and the coach.
/ Cycle / Skipping 5 minutes
preferably pre race stretching )
Flat Flys D/bell
Sit Ups with / without D/bell
3 x 10
D/bell Floor to Ceiling
D/bell Step Ups
. Etc etc
.3 x10Finish with Stretching / Bike
/Treadmill 5 minutes warm down.
Try to stay away from Leg press,
Squats, Back Hyperextension, Calf Raises, etc.
Preparation / PhasingRacewalking is an
international racing distances for Juniors (U20) are 10klm for men and 5klm for
women. Training is therefore aimed at
increasing cardiovascular capacity both aerobically and anaerobically.
Also required is the
development of upper body strength, flexibility of shoulders, torso, hips and
legs for efficiency and range of motion. The final objective and possibly the most
important is that of efficient technique.
For most Sub
Juniors, there should be an incremental increase in distances raced as the
athlete gets older and progressively stronger. eg . U12 2klm, U14 3klm, U16
5klm, U18 10klm, U20 10klm. These
distances should not be advanced at each age level thus allowing the athlete to
grow and develop into the sport progressively.
Because strength and
endurance levels increase with age over a period of time, it is much wiser for
Juniors to stay within these race distance limitations unless that athlete is
exceptional and has the opportunity to be a part of a senior international
team. A Junior should concentration
racing within his age group.
There is plenty of
time to pit yourself amongst the best in the world when you are fitter, faster
and stronger. The psychological impact
of a number of losses at senior level for a Junior could be devastating.
Periodisation is a
word used to explain the division of the training year to meet short and long
It is usually broken
up into 3-4 phases where each phase represents a block of time allocated to a
particular work load or period.
where basic conditioning is established. Possible long slow mileage with one hard race
distance session per week. There is no
accent on racing throughout this period at all. Technique, flexibility, mobility drills are to
be emphasized throughout. Strength work and good general conditioning are
required to toughen the body. Track
work, fartlek sessions and hill work are a good way to vary speed sessions.
When getting back to
the track for the first time after a break, start slowly emphasizing technique as
differing surfaces tend to induce shin soreness.
Track work and the
degree of speed and distance and recovery between reps should be monitored
closely. It should also be centered on
race distances rather than over-distance. eg: race goal 5,000m 10,000m.
Same as phase 1
except the long slow mileage is reduced along with reduced weight training. Continue conditioning training (circuits) and
increase specific race distance training.
Transition to Speed. Brings the introduction of speed work once or
twice a week for two weeks, then leading
up to eg. Championships. Racing is important to establish race legs, but
without emphasis on results. Maintaining
good mileage is important
as long as it is of
Race period. Its
time to lighten back mileage but maintain one good rhythm session per day.
Speed work can be
done at 80 -100%, ensuring that all sessions are monitored and adjusted
according to fatigue factors.
Try to finish each
session feeling toey . Never do
session just because
you feel good. Save it for the race.
Phase 5: Recovery
Usually a 4-6 week
block where of active rest / recovery. Keep
away from races.
Speed Training for Walkers
Track Work, Fartlek
Sessions and Hill Work are a good way to vary speed sessions.
When getting back to
the track for the first time for a long time, start slowly, emphasizing
technique as the different surface can induce shin soreness.
Track work and the
degree of speed and distance and recovery between reps should be monitored
It should also be
centred around race distance rather than over-distance. eg. race distance 500m
Sessions can be of straight repetition sets eg. 8 x 400m with 2 minute recovery,
or a Pyramid set (200, 400, 800, 400, 200) x 3 etc.
With all Track
sessions a suitable warm up should be introduced covering 3-5 laps with drills
/ skills reinforced along the way.
A typical Track
session will cover 3,600m of Speed work for a Junior athlete along with approx.
2000m of recovery between sets.
With a Warm up and Warm down, you could assume
that the athlete has covered approx 8-9 klm in a session.
More than sufficient
for a Junior athlete (age 15-18).
Pyramid type sessions
are quite beneficial as it easy to step up the length of each rep as an athlete
is adapting and improving with a given workload.
rates can be altered to enhance a training effect on the same workout.
Speed factors on a long
workout should not be paramount, but the focus should be on good technique at
around or below race pace.
It helps to document
each workout and use this information as a
referral for future workouts.
Ensure that each
athlete has a diary and fills it out daily.
FARTLEK SESSIONS Fartlek Sessions can
be done once or twice a week while training is restricted to the roads. A good way of doing this is to walk from light
pole to light pole maintaining good rhythm and then short sharp burst between
poles lengthening the distance as you feel. Always give the athlete a few
kilometres to warm-up initially.
Secondly, you could
use a stopwatch (on Road or Track) and with a solid walk of say, 5 minutes,
then time consecutive reps at set intervals allowing a good 5 minute recovery
walk at the end.
Hill Work involving
timing a set distance on a course that will give sustained climbing is also
very good once a week. This strengthens
heart and lungs
and legs and could be used as a good indicator
of form. Ensure that the athlete has a
good warm-up before setting out up the course.
Speed work, once
initiated through the transition period really never has to be flat out.
Leave that to racing
as many athletes leave their best performances on the training track.
Leave a session with
a feeling of accomplishment rather than exhaustion. It will make it easier to do the next session.
All work should be
Stride Length, Hip Mobility, Arm and Shoulder Drive, Body Position, Posture
In other words -
Technique, Technique, Technique.
The race period is
usually done over a 4 week period culminating in a major championship. The lead
up races are essential to establish a racepace and also to get the mind, legs
and body into race mode.
Most of the training
in this period is devoted to maintenance and sharpening up mode. It can still combine circuit training,
fartlek, track sessions and the occasional specific speed distance session,
however, there should be no accent on overload training sessions.
Flexibility and Mobility Exercises
Given that a warm up
and stretching exercises have been done, an additional 4-5 laps of mobile
flexibility ensures proper preparation for racing.
These exercises can
also be initiated throughout longer, slower training.
Imagine walking down
a straight line and walking with the left foot crossing over that line to the
right and visa versa
with the right foot. This X-Over action does a number of things. Firstly, it ensures that the athlete lands on
a straightened leg.
It is virtually impossible to land on a bent
leg while doing this.
Secondly, it ensures
that the hip rotation is over extended increasing hip mobility accordingly.
It also helps in
pushing off the back leg by virtue of this action increasing rear leg drive and
stride length while
also reinforcing dual
phase contact. It is a great exercise
for all young athletes and should be continued throughout an athletes career.
While this is being
undertaken, the arms can be held in different positions and can markedly alter
stride length and hip mobility
as it overworks the legs and hips
Some of these are as
Holding arms close across the chest.
Holding arms outstretched forward in front of you.
Arms crossed and held behind the back
Arms stretched out to the side at shoulder height
Swinging the arms across the body holding onto the hands
in opposite rhythm to the leg stride
Arm rotations each side of the body forward and back
Shoulders rotating backward
Walking in figure 8s. Very tight circles overusing hip rotation and
movement on each side.
These are to be
initiated after a couple of warm-up laps, jogging or walking. Hold every stretch for up to 10 seconds.
Do not bounce the
stretch as (ballistic) stretching can lead to muscle injury.
These are only a few
basic stretching exercises that can be undertaken.
Feet apart, pointing forward, side bends.
Feet apart pointing forward, flat back stretch
Feet apart, toes forward. full squat position
Feet apart, toes forward, side lunge
Feet apart, toes forward, pushing hips forward, arch
Neck rotations around side to side (not back)
Hands clasped above the head, stretched back and down to the sides
Trunk rotation, turn hips. Stretched down flat back
Trunk rotation to the side hands clasped above the head
apart facing forward, lunge and push hips
apart facing forward, lunge and straighten legs with head down to knees, both
with legs apart, stretch down head to knee to each leg
stretch, feet together, push knees toward ground
down legs apart, push chest to ground
on back, bring knees to chest
on back, bring foot and knee parallel to chest
on back, bring knee up and across to opposite shoulder
on side, pull foot back and push away, still holding onto foot.
up, swing knee to opposite shoulder and hands swing in opposite direction.
There are a few here and obviously many, many more that can
One of the most common
injuries that racewalkers encounter is shin splints, however,
in walkers it occurs on the outside of the
tibia (anterior tibialis syndrome).
This is a tightness and
an aggravation of the tendon leading to the anterior tibialis muscle developed
from pushing the heel to the ground and
raising the lead foot on landing.
It is compounded by tight
calves and needs massage of the calves and stretching with light work.
Speed work induced tight
hamstrings can lead to soreness of the attachment right in under the buttocks.
Again, massage and rest
with stretching, once the soreness factor has decreased, the answer.
In the case of an athlete having a lordotic
back there appears to be a greater increase of numbers
of athletes with sore
lower back issues. This is compounded
with a reduced stride length quite commonly.
The tilt of the pelvis
from under needs to be worked on with posture and a
deal of stretching of the lower back needs to be undertaken.
Foot issues are rare,
however, in the case of sore feet, care and selection should be taken in choosing
the right shoes for your feet.
There are a multitude of shoes available in
the marketplace, some with straight last and
with curved and slightly curved last soles.
As the foot predominantly
wears the shoe on the heel, ball and toe, the shoe must be flexible but firm,
an even thickness throughout the sole and light enough to not create its own
issues with extra weight being brought through with each stride.
Make sure that the shoe
fits the foot, not the other way round.
Upper body issues and
core strength are usually caused through a lack of upper body strength.
Most athletes legs are
well conditioned and trained and as marathon runners are usually legs and lungs
Walkers need a strong upper body to maintain
momentum and technique throughout a race.
Notes for a Coach
Always ensure that the
athlete is well informed regarding training and expected outcomes. Empower your athlete with not only what you
want done, but why. Give them an
understanding of the sport. Who knows,
at the end their career, they may end wanting to be a coach.
Monitor your athletes
diet ensuring that they have an adequate intake
of a balanced mix of carbohydrate, protein
and vegetables. Regular blood tests will
show deficiencies in Iron for example.
Allow flexibility on all
training sessions, monitoring and checking verbally just how each individual
athlete is coping with the session. There
are many factors that influence a young athletes attitude and training
demeanor, eg. School work / exams, other recreational activities, family
issues, peer pressures etc etc.
Be aware and adjust those
sessions accordingly. They have a long
career as an athlete and need our full support as coaches.
When travelling to
competitions, use a checklist that the athlete can go through to ensure that
they have not overlooked anything in their race gear, travel requirements. The onus is on them, however they do need to
Use a diary, both for athletes
and coaches, as this reinforces the need for planning and preparation and
Remember: Those who fail
to Plan, usually Plan to Fail
Gain an understanding of
the Human Body and its muscular makeup. If
you have not been an athlete, then find the time to understand the biomechanics
of racewalking and the muscles that work and how they work. This will ensure some empathy with the athlete
when trying to understand any niggles or minor injuries that an athlete may
Get to know your athlete,
how many brothers and sisters they have, their birthdates, celebrate their
birthdays, find out what else makes up the person that you are coaching.
Remember that these are extraordinary people with an extraordinary talent.
I firmly believe that if
you give even 5 % input into a childs development, you will receive a 95 %
return. Just because you have shown them
that you really care. They need to know
that they are special.
Make training FUN,
especially for the young athlete, developing in their sport. Thats why they are there in the first place.
Race Distances for each age group
Open Men 10, 15, 20, 30, 50 klm
Open Women 5, 10, 15, 20klm
U20 Men 3, 5, 10 klm
U20 Women 3, 5, 10klm
U18 Men 3, 5, 10 klm
U18 Women 3, 5, 10 klm
U16 Men 3, 5 klm
U16 women 3, 5 klm
U14 Men 1500, 3 klm
U14 Women 1500, 3 klm
U12 Boys 1, 2 klm
U12 Girls 1, 2 klm
U10 Boys 1, 1.5 klm
U10 Girls 1 klm
These race distances are recognised as the best distances
for young athletes as they grow and develop allowing a natural progression as
the mature into the sport.
It is only rarely that an athlete would or should step up
to a higher age bracket or distance and that would be dependant on being an
Masters athletes are a different structure altogether.
A bit about the Author:
First of all, this
document is a compilation of a group of works including my own that have been
contributed to the racewalking community over
many, many years - Some that I do not
know the origins of.
I trust that I have done
these words justice and thank those who have contributed.
Australian Dual Olympian
Level 5 AT&FCA Walks
2009 : National Coach