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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.

Race Walking Legs

Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 2
Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 3
Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 4
Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 5
Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 6
Text Book Race Walking Form
Figure 7

Observe Figures 2 to 7. They illustrate the correct positioning of the legs from the instant Tim Seaman’s left leg strikes the ground, as his body passes directly over the leg and beyond, until his left foot is about to leave the ground behind his body. Observe Figure 2, where his heel has just made contact with the ground. A few things happened simultaneously. Just before contact, as his leg was swinging forward, it straightened, with toes pointed up (between 30 to 45 degrees from the ground). Nearly simultaneously with those actions, his heel struck the ground. Achieving this smooth synchronized action is the key to success.

Between Figure 2 and 7, the body moves forward, over the left leg. This is where walkers tend to violate the definition of race walking. The leg must remain straightened until it is in the vertical position as shown in Figure 4. Once the left leg is beyond the vertical position, as in Figure 5, it may bend. However, when it comes time to lift your left foot off the ground, if your left leg is still straightened, you get an extra thrust forward by pushing off your rear foot (Figure 6). With proper flexibility and strength your leg stays straightened longer giving you this extra thrust. Ideally, the leg remains straightened until the heel of your rear foot lifts off the ground.

Figure 7 is just after your effective push off and just before rear-foot toe off, with an obvious bend in the leg. It is impossible to race walk with any efficiency and keep the leg straight as it swings forward. Notice that as his rear (left) leg leaves the ground, his front (right) leg is already in position. Also, note (as we observed with Jared Tallent) that the legs do not create a symmetrical triangle. More of Tim’s stride is behind his body than in front. This is achieved through proper hip action.

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