“Any road will get you there if you don’t know where you are going.” A large majority of people seem to follow this path when it comes to their health and fitness objectives. This includes a majority of walkers who train from week to week with no established racewalking goals. If they have goals, they lack a clear direction of how to achieve them. This may lead to frustration and disappointment. Unfortunately, many will never reach their full potential.
Racewalkers, just as runners, improve their walking by increasing their training levels. A training plan is a guide or map to achieve certain specific outcomes. It is an action plan. To develop a training plan is the most important step in achieving your racewalking goals.
The first step in developing a training plan for jump roping is to set explicit, challenging, realistic goals. Goals will be as varied as there are walkers. A goal may be one of health i.e., reduce hypertension, lose body fat; another may be to go a particular distance, or an event to finish; still others may be a specific race pace or finish time goal. Once you have established your primary long term goal(s), you want to set medium and short range goals which mark your path as you build towards the primary one. Remember, when setting your goals it is important to include a time frame for achievement. The outcome of a training plan is to develop a process that establishes a consistent, goal-oriented plan than will ensure racewalking success.
Training is based on a set of principles. Learn the principle, then look to find the tool. A carefully crafted training program details specific daily, weekly and monthly workouts to meet the objective. Training plans utilize the training principles of the hard / easy approach, and vary time, distance, intensity and terrain. The foundation of the training plan will include the components of:
Moderation: This means not going to extremes in any aspect of training.
Consistency: To consistently train at reasonable weekly levels.
Rest: Make time to repair and recover.
Each workout will have a purpose. Describe the quantity, length, intensity and rest intervals for each one. The training needs to be progressively increased as you become more fit. The components of a Racewalking fitness plan are:
Endurance must be developed first. This is the base building portion of training. Walking aerobically strengthens the heart and increases the amount of blood pumped through the circulatory system. The amount of this depends on the event distance. Usually 50% of the training is in the endurance zone.
Strength training is usually performed as hill training. Walking once a week, after the base building, on hills gives functional strength to the legs. Hills strengthen calves, hamstrings and gluteal muscles. This usually lasts 4 – 6 weeks.
Flexibility, also called mobility, determines the body’s range of motion. Mobility stretching exercises of the warm-up are designed to improve the athletes flexibility and reduce the risk of injury.
Speed training is not for everyone. But if you want to improve your performance, you need to continue to increase intensity. The primary outcome of speed work is to train the body how to Racewalk anaerobically (without oxygen). Speed work brings you to a peak of performance in preparation to racing. This usually lasts 4 – 8 weeks. Any longer than that increase the risk for injury or illness.
Form. Whether one is a beginner or veteran Racewalker form and technique work is on going and is included in the training plan, to avoid unnecessary injury or disappointment.
The goal determines the texture of the various components of the training plan. The more competitive the goal, the more important the training plan. Based on my experience the time frame of 20 -30 weeks is optimal to accomplish medium-range goals, from both a mental and physiological standpoint. Just as with Racewalking, a training plan is about basics. Remember the following:
• Set realistic goals
• Consistently build a mileage base
• Avoid the toos: too much too soon, too fast too soon, too far too soon.
• Train using the hard / easy approach, varying time, distance, intensity and terrain.
• To successfully compete in and finish racewalk events requires on-going walk form and technique work.
• Include warm up and cool down