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.


  1. I've done racewalking (power walking, whatever) as a means of maintaining my fitness while injured. It's easier on the joints, but I found it more likely to give me shinsplints. No big deal, since I know what to do about that, but I just thought I'd share that aspect.

    I really should do more of it because it works slightly different muscles, and working new muscles is critical to keeping your metabolism from getting too efficient. But I like running, so I don't do the walking very often. Oh well.

  2. Knees have gone, feet have gone - I'm like the old grey mare who ain't what she used to be.

    I find a brisk walk - swinging arms vigorously mind - to the fridge really keeps me toned!

  3. I do powerwalking, well sorta. Ha! LMAO @ your descriptioni of the usual powerwalking stance and "knowing I look like an asshole."

    Basically I say I "sorta" powerwalk because while I haul butt and pump my arms a lot, I don't do that hip swivelly thing.

    And guess what -- I used to run, too. Well, sorta. :) My "running" speed wasn't much more than my fast walking speed. I had to stop running because it didn't agree with my knees or my hips, but I'm fine with the walking. You're right, fast walking is great for you as long as you're "workin' it" enough!

    I did love running, though. Wish I could still do it. I loved the endorphin high. :)

  4. Thanks for stopping in you guys--I love hearing what everyone else is doing when they exercise. Also appreciate that you're all so informative/amusing so that should random visitors drop by, they'll think--cool people hang out here, maybe I should too!

  5. I'm really glad I checked out this blog as I love talking about exercising (as opposed to actually doing it, I guess..) and I love walking. IMO, it's one of the best ways to stay in shape.

    But yeah, speedwalking isn't something I'm keen on, I'd rather jog as then at least I'm giving my bones a work out.

  6. Lucky you, it sounds like you still have functional knees to jog with.

    And yeah, while the high impact stuff is harder on the joints, it seems to be better for building up the bones.

    Thanks so much for dropping by Kay, hope you'll be back!

    (Crabby is an attention-seeking narcissist and loves new visitors, especially those who leave comments. Welcome!)

  7. I'm getting into racewalking as a form of cross training. My knees feel sore after running, but if I alternate running with racewalking (in separate workouts), the racewalking makes my knees feel almost normal again.

    I've become the assistant racewalking coach for a youth track team. The kids are pretty amazing. They move faster, and don't look as dorky as the adults. Well, their techniques will improve...

  8. Hi Zandru!
    Thanks for stopping by. Coaching kids in race-walking sounds very cool. (I'm surprised they're willing to give it a try, though not surprised they'd be better at it than old fogeys like Crabby).

  9. I've done racewalking during indoor track in high school and I will just say that it is sooo much harder than it looks. The technique is something that takes a lot of practice and unlike running, it is very hard to tell when you are overworking yourself.

    Although it looks "funny", I have total respect for anyone who does it competitively. I know from past experience the pains/embarrassment of racewalking workouts and the stares that you get from people as you go around the track or your neighborhood. :)

    So all in all, I LOVE RACEWALKING and would recommend it to anyone in need of a good cardiac activity without some of the complications of running. I would have to agree with bunnygirl though, your shins will probably hurt at first. Do some weight bearing exercises to strengthen your shins before testing it out. Also, make sure stretch before racewalking because even though it may seem like you're just walking, you will use muscles that you never knew you had. Have fun and don't be afraid to try it!

  10. Run, walk, racewalk, walk on stilts or on your hands....just do what you like, but keep moving. For me its racewalking. Once I learned how to put it al together it actually feels 'normal'. Not really sure how I look but I've done everything from 5ks to Marathons.....half M's being my fav. For me its Racewalk forever. Been racewalking 8 years now and I think when I turn 60 in a few years racewalking will be what got me there in the best condition I've been in for my entire adult life. It may look a bit odd, damned if I care....its been great for me.


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