A Racewalker is Born

For a while I have been bemoaning the lack of race walking coaches. I feel that my walking has plateaued and that I need to learn the race walking technique to progress further.

I have contacted the Race Walking Association (RWA) who promised to send me an introductory pack (received nothing). I contacted Birchfield Harriers (who are listed on the RWA website) and after the “thanks for your email, we’ll get straight back to you” reply, nothing.

After contacting the Royal Sutton Coldfield AC (who told me that they no longer do race walking) suggested Nuneaton Harriers.

After a few more dead ends, I was contacted by two people on the same day.

Carolyn and her coach Anne said that they could help me.

I spoke with Carolyn and I told her what I was looking for and she said that they could definitely help.

A few days later, Carolyn told me that she and Anne would be at the Harriers’ stadium the following Tuesday. Unfortunately, this just happened to coincide with a bad cold so there was no way I could attend.

This week, I received an email to meet up on Thursday. I accepted the invitation so, finishing work a little earlier, drove along a busy M6 to Pingles Stadium in Nuneaton.

Anne (my coach?)

After going into the adjacent leisure centre, only to be told that the stadium was a separate entity. I went next door and announced to some guy there that I had come to meet Carolyn and Anne. “That’s young Anne there!” he stated pointing to the track.

I went over and introduced myself and after a brief chat, proceeded to walk around the track.

I was shown the rudiments of race walking technique …

  1. Plant your heel, toes pointing up
  2. Pump the arms (as though pulling on a rope) and
  3. Swing the hips

Sounds simple – not really.

We did a few laps with me really trying to walk the walk before Carolyn turned up. After further introductions, Anne declared that we would be doing 100m sprints. We would walk 100m flat out (with correct technique) then use the next 100m to recover before repeating.

Choosing to sprint the straights and recover on the bends, the first section, on the bend, was treated as a warm up before Anne said go.

The pair of them left me standing !

The Strava trace doesn’t really show the whole story as the pace line is always playing catch up but I think that it show that, at some points, I was going at something around 9:30 pace.

Being more of an athletic event, as opposed to road running, everything is in kilometres – perhaps I’ll have to convert – 6 minutes per kilometre.

We kept this up for around twenty five minutes before a few laps to cool down.

That was the first hard workout I’ve done for quite a while – I knew that I’d done it !

During the workout, we discussed, amongst other things, the forthcoming Winter League event in December which is something that I am aimed towards. A proper 5k race walking event. Looking at past results, I shouldn’t be last !

Anne also told me the benefits of joining the club especially a Run4all event which is held every Monday evening. It a sort of interval session but it’s based on time and is suited to all abilities, either running or, in my case, walking.

Finally, I have found people who can help me in my race walking journey.

I left the glorious, floodlit, stadium for the half hour drive home feeling rather satisfied.