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This quick primer on race walking technique defines proper textbook form and is an excerpt from the book Race Walk Clinic - in a Book.

The following is the definition of race walking:

  • 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.

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Race Walking Posture

A race walker’s posture is quite simple. An elite race walker maintains an upright posture throughout the stride. The torso should not swing forward or back, nor should it twist as the hips rotate forward. Leaning forward or backward restricts hip rotation and places an incredible strain on the lower back.

Observe Figure 1 showing Jared Tallent walking to a silver medal in the 2008 Olympics 50km race. Tallent’s posture is straight up and down, leading to more graceful and efficient technique, as well as the proper stride ratio. Race walkers should have more of their stride behind them than in front of their body. Estimates vary between a 60-40 split and a 70-30 split. Tallent’s sweet spot is directly in between at 64/36.

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Figure 1