- The 10s: Walk at a moderate pace for five minutes to warm up. Stretch gently, then walk for 10 minutes at a faster pace than in the 20s workout. You should be breathing fairly hard but still be able to get out a few words in conversation. After 10 minutes, slow down, and catch your breath. Rest for at least 5 minutes. You'll repeat this cycle up to three times per workout, but don't go for more than that. Remember to cool down afterward.
- The 5s: This is the speed demon workout. Don't panic if you get red-faced, sweaty, and out of breath. That's the idea. Begin by warming up for 10 minutes, walking at a moderate pace. For the next 5 minutes, walk as though there's molten lava flowing behind you, right on your heels. At this speed, you shouldn't be able to utter a word; if you can, you're not pushing hard enough. After five minutes, slow down, and catch your breath. As soon as you're breathing comfortably, pick up your pace again. You'll repeat this cycle as many as four times per workout. Always cool down afterward.
If you're not fitness walking on a ¼-mile track, try heading out for the first half of your workout, then turning around and heading back for the second half. As the weeks go by, you'll find that the halfway mark is getting farther and farther from your starting point. That means you're walking faster.
Remember to spend a few minutes stretching after every warm-up and cool-down. Choose exercises that target your calf and thigh muscles.
If you miss a session here and there, simply pick up where you left off. If you miss a week or more of training, you may have to backtrack a week to resume working out at a comfortable level.
Never do speed workouts (the 20s, 10s, and 5s) on consecutive days or on "easy" days, even if you're feeling great. Doing too much too soon or too fast puts you at risk for soreness and injury, and often you don't know that you're overdoing it until it's too late. Remember: You are your only training competitor, and your best time is the one that gets you to the finish line safely and comfortably.
Finally, let your body rule your routine. If you're extremely sore or tired the day after a workout, cut back. Walk only as fast as you can without feeling any kind of muscle or joint pain. If you experience dizziness, chest pain, or sharp pain anywhere in your body, stop your workout, and see your doctor.
Tips to Strengthen Your Stride
- Take short, quick steps. Long strides slow you down in the long run.
- Use the heel-to-toe roll, and push off with the back leg.
- Pump your arms. Bend sharply at the elbows, and let them swing from your shoulders. This helps you get more oomph from your hips, the major power source for fitness walking.
- Control your hips. Just imagine your hips as an extension of your thighs. When your thigh moves forward, your hip does too.
- Stand tall. This gives your waist more room to swivel back and forth with the motion of your hips and legs.
Get Ready, Get Set, Go!
You've followed the training program religiously, and you are pumped for race day. In the final hours of preparation, read the following tips collected from some walk/run veterans. Their advice can help calm prerace jitters and ensure that your 5K experience is a good one.