From weight-loss solution to athletic recovery, these are just a few of the benefits that racewalking has to offer. The high-speed sport elevates the heart rate and provides a full-body workout without causing pain and stress on the joints.
No matter the reasons behind getting involved in the sport, starting with the right gear is essential.
Carmen Jackinsky, racewalking coach and founding member of the club Racewalkers Northwest located in Portland, Oregon, offers her suggestions to what gear newcomers should select.
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Basic Racewalking Gear
Shoes: “Footwear is the most important thing for racewalkers,” says Jackinsky. "You can't land on your toes during racewalking. You land on your heels and roll all the way through."
To promote the heel-to-toe rolling motion, shoes should have a lower heel, which will allow the foot to come in contact with the ground quicker. This roll is crucial because racewalkers don’t land on their toes.
Finding proper footwear can be tricky, which is why Jackinsky patented a midsole designed specifically for a walker’s needs. Her brand, Reshod, replaces both the midsole and outsole of the shoes with a sole that enhances the rocking motion needed for opitmal form and speed.
Sweat-Wicking Socks: Walkers should avoid cotton socks. Cotton holds sweat close to the body allowing for the formation of blisters.
Comfortable Clothing: Choosing the right outfit is important. Fabrics should have sweat-wicking capabilities. Tight-fitting clothes can lead to chaffing. Jackinsky also suggests newbies invest in a pair of shorts that won’t ride up.
Hydration Gear: Like other sports, racewalking works up a sweat and generates a thirst. For longer walks, Jackinsky recommends a hydration pack so walkers can carry their water with them.
Tunes: Like runners who have a favorite song or playlist that get their adrenaline pumping, Jackinsky recommends good music. Her go-to songs? Walk of Life by Dire Straits or Walking on Sunshine by Katrina & The Waves.
Accessories: Sunny days or summer temperatures might require sunglasses, hat or a visor. In cooler temperatures racewalkers might need gloves or warm layers.
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What to Avoid
Jeans: Denim jeans don’t offer breathability. In inclement weather, denim soaks up moisture becoming very heavy and could lead to chaffing.
Drab Colors or Black at Night: Visibility is important for light-night walks. Light-colored T-shirts or reflective vests are key ways to increase awareness and safety.
Weights: While strength training is an important aspect of fitness, Jackinsky doesn’t recommend strapping ankle or wrist weights on before a walk. "Ankle or wrist weight throw off body balance," she says. "I don't recommend them."
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