Want to walk faster and further in the same time?

If you want to move everything up a gear towards 5 miles an hour and beyond, which is very achievable, it is absolutely essential to have a change of approach towards your walking technique, and the way that you train.

A Mini Masterclass in how to ramp up your speed and walk further in the same time.

With the MoonWalk Celebration Road Trip, as well as some very exciting virtual events on the horizon, for those committed walkers amongst you, now is a great time to work on technique and speed.

Without too much technique it is possible to go from an average walking pace of 3 miles an hour to about 4–4.5 miles an hour, then for many increasing the pace becomes challenging and elusive. It is at this point that the most common question I am asked is ‘what can I do to increase my speed’. If you want to move everything up a gear towards 5 miles an hour and beyond, which is very achievable, it is absolutely essential to have a change of approach towards your walking technique and the way that you train.

How to transition from Power Walker to Speed Walker?

At this point some notes on posture and technique become the key magical ingredients towards successfully and safely increasing our pace;

  1. Good Posture is top of the list and the foundation for moving forwards with speed.
  2. Stand tall, start by imagining a cord coming from the top of your head to the sky. Now lift a little more from the core by separating your ribs from your pelvic. Imagine you are gently holding a grapefruit between your shoulder blades. Even though you feel you are standing straight, it helps to use a mirror, shop window or glass door to study your actual posture, as you should hold this stance at all times.
  3. Make sure your hips are square and facing forward. Imagine you have a headlamp facing out on each hip. If you arch your back, the headlamps would tip forward and light the ground by your feet. By pulling in your core, lengthening your lower back, and just slightly tucking under your bottom, you can imagine your headlamps are pointing straight ahead. 
  4. Place your shoulders squarely above your hips and again facing forward. Imagine there is a direct connection on each side from hip to shoulder joint. For anyone that does Pilates you will know this is where you engage your core muscles and where the strength comes from to efficiently mobilise your arms and legs.
  5. Keep your hands softly cupped. Quite often without noticing, your fists can clench as you walk, especially if you are really pumping forward. This will tighten your muscles all the way to your neck and shoulders, which will alter your stance and posture, particularly over a long walk.

Let’s get going…

The main aim with walking technique is to keep streamlined so that you use all your energy in the most efficient way. Having a good core balance gives you the stability to change quickly from foot to foot.

  1. Heel strike. A strong heel strike gives the momentum to the follow through before;
  2. The step though, which should be close to the ground and neatly next to the opposite ankle for speed.
  3. The push off becomes even more important at speed, as it the main source of power to propel forwards with the aid of your arms.
  4. Arms ready to pump 90% angle at your sides. As you know the arms are the leaders for speed so the more you use them the faster you can go.

Common faults clinic... and what to avoid when trying to speed up…

  1. Over striding brings instability. For speed, shorten your stride to make the transfer from foot to foot much cleaner and quicker.
  2. Leaning forward, it is very common and can lead to back pain. Try to maintain that wonderful posture. It’s a good idea to do a posture check every mile or so until it becomes second nature.
  3. Arms, whether they go out at your sides like chicken wings, or criss cross over the front of you as you walk, or even down by your side, they are your greatest asset and cannot work properly or efficiently in these positions.
  4. Head down, whether you are trying to talk on your phone or looking at the ground, lift your head and look straight ahead for optimum streamline.
  5. Swaying shoulders... this often happens on long walks, especially as you get tired and often the head starts to roll. Try to keep your shoulders and hips quite still and forward facing as you walk, in time this will give you extra power.

I hope that this plants the seed to take your walking to a new level. Good technique will allow you to expand your walking in different directions from meditational to speed and beyond. You can add a heart rate monitor to track your optimum pace against your heart rate… but that can wait until next time… enjoy the journey!

Nina Barough May 2020

 

 

 

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