The Need for Speed

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Rowbotham’s Round Rotherham 50

A couple of early starts over the last two days. A dark four miler locally on Tuesday before a couple of dog walks on my return. Then seven miles this morning before work.

Walking before sunup meant that I had to utilise the head-torch for some sections which reminded me to ensure that the torch has fresh batteries ahead of next week’s Rowbotham’s Round Rotherham (RRR) walk.

To prevent a mass start, all those taking part in the RRR were sent an email this week asking us to select a Start time. I’ve gone for 05:30 so it’ll still be dark at the start (Sunrise 07:21) but hopefully I’ll finish before sun down (18:22). The hotel is booked and paid for so it’s all looking good.


Since my return to parkrun, my times have been falling going from 40:39 down to 36:05 over two months.

I feel as though I am reaching a bit of a plateau and may not be able to improve much more.

So what can I do to further improve my performance ?

I need to change the way that I walk. I’ll still use two legs but need to use some, if not all, the techniques of race walking.

The technical definition of race walking is …

  • 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 must be straightened (i.e., not bent at the knee) from the moment of first contact with the ground until in the vertical upright position.

Sounds a bit confusing but basically it means that one foot is always in contact with he ground as opposed to running where both feet leave the ground and the forward leg is straight.

It is a bit different from normal or power walking but each feature add to a more efficient stride.

There are plenty of videos showing the techniques ( is a good example). However, I would like some personal one-to-one instruction.

A couple of years back, I reached out (as they say) to Birchfield Harriers but the person I needed to see was never there when I attended. I have also, this week, contacted the Race Walking Association (LINK), but have heard nothing back (yet?).

I have already started to incorporate the arm movements which involves keeping the arms bent at ninety degrees which forces the hips the rotate, forcing the leading hip forward and increasing the stride length. The action is a bit unnatural and will take a bit of getting used to.

Once I’ve completed the RRR in a week’s time, I have no other events planned until next April (A Coventry Way) so may look at starting a race walking training programme.


Shortly after writing this post, I discovered that Royal Sutton Coldfield Athletic Club (RSCAC) sometimes coach race walkers so I shot them off an email. It was quickly answered but I was told that they currently don’t cater for race walkers but suggested Nuneaton Harriers. I have sent an email to Nuneaton and await a reply.

I live on the east side of Birmingham so Nuneaton is only about half an hour drive away (on a good day).