April 23, 2007
Cardio Options: Race-Walking, Speedwalking, etc.
Whatever you call it--Race walking or Power walking or Speed walking--it's a smart cardio option. That is, if you do it really really fast, fast enough to get your heart-rate in its target zone. It's an especially good idea for those like Crabby who have shredded their knees through years of running. You can get pretty much all the benefits of running, with a lot less wear and tear on the body. (Here's one random article from some hard-core weightlifting guy with some of the benefits--Crabby was feeling too lazy to find a more authoritative source, but you can trust her that it's good for you).
However, despite tons of magazine articles saying for years that Power Walking is the next big thing, hardly anyone seems to actually do it. At least not in Crabby's neighborhood. Outdoor exercisers tend to be either runners or walky-walkers, not race walkers.
What's the reason for the puzzling absence of speed walkers? Simple: it's impossible to do it without looking like a total dork. Crabby knows this because she does it herself. The frantic arm-swinging, the ludicrous hip swivel, the prissy eyes-straight-ahead posture: one can't help but think "doesn't she know she looks like an assh*le?" Yes, she does.
Another problem is that if you used to be a runner, it's hard to get your heart rate up without concentrating really hard on what you're doing. It seems to feel more effortful than running, even though it's slower. (Crabby also likes the elliptical machine, but that's a subject for a future post). A heart rate monitor (also perhaps the subject of a future post) is a really good idea if you want to give race-walking a try.
Uphill helps too, because then you can walk more like a normal person and still stay aerobic. And for Crabby, music is essential.
If you want to get all fancy about it and actually follow the rules, check out these folks at the North American Racewalking Foundation.
Feel free to tell Crabby what you think, either about Power Walking or your own favorite Cardio endeavors.