Don’t let anyone tell you you’re just walking. Take it from Toronto’s Lee Scott, founder and head coach of Wow Power Walking. She has coached thousands of walkers for fitness and marathons. She has power walked more than 100 distance events, including 35 full marathons – the latest one was in California at the Big Sur International Marathon.
“If there’s one thing all walkers need to work on is their posture, and she suggests the following:
•Stand tall. Good posture allows you to open up your chest, take full breaths, and engage your core, glutes, and back muscles.
•Remember to keep your head up, look to the horizon, straight ahead, not to the ground.
•Land with your heel down and roll through from heel to toe, keep the back foot on the ground longer to give yourself a more effective push off. Your power is coming from the back of your body-so squeeze those glutes.
As for walking with exaggerated arms pumping forward and up in the air – no need. “Keep your elbows bent and close to your body, while think of pulling the hands back toward the hip bone.” Scott also suggests you take shorter strides in front – don’t overstride. Your knees will thank you, and additionally, shorter strides will help you increase cadence and speed.
If you have a regular walking routine, you’re exercising consistently, and you feel like you need more of a challenge, here are a few suggestions with a few:
•Try walking on uneven ground instead of on the sidewalk or pavement. Trail walking requires more balancing, will engage your core and develop both strength and mobility in the ankle.
•Add a few hills. Walking up hills is a great cardiorespiratory challenge and since you’re literally lifting yourself up the hill, it’s a great strength exercise. It also helps work on ankle mobility if you focus on landing with a heel strike. As for walking downhill, controlling the momentum is what creates additional stress on your muscles and connective tissues. So, go slowly.
TIP: Whether walking up a hill or down, to help reduce the elevation grade break it up by walking in a Zig-Zag pattern to lessen the stress on your leg muscles.
•Try a few intervals – walk fast for intervals ranging from 20 seconds to 2 minutes, alternating with similar recovery times.
•If you are using poles, be sure to make them work for you by pushing into the ground and back with them.
•Keep your cellphone in your pocket. This way, you can keep your chin parallel to the ground, and you can take the time to focus on keeping a vigorous pace while enjoying the views.
Have a goal. Why not enter the next 5k walk?
“One of the reasons I got into marathon walking was because I read an article about a woman who walked the Honolulu Marathon. And I thought that sounds great. I’d never been interested in running one, but I’d be interested in walking one – 35 marathons later and still walking strong.”
If you enjoyed this article check out Walking your way to better health.