In 2004, Tim Erickson wrote a paper entitled "A Potted History of the Rules of Racewalking" which can be accessed now at his Web site for the Victorian Race Walking Club (see the Other Pages menu option). His paper quotes Charles Westhall, a professional walkers in the latter half of the 19th century, when he wrote about race walking technique in those times. According to Erickson, it is probably the earliest definition of race walking technique available.
|"To be a good and fair walker, the attitude should be upright or nearly so, with the shoulders well back, and the arms when in motion held well up in a bent position, and at every stride swinging with the movement of the legs well across the chest, which should be well thrown out. The loins should be slack to give plenty of freedom to the hips, and the leg perfectly straight, thrown out from the hip boldly and directly in front of the body, and allowed to reach the ground with the heel being decidedly the first portion of the foot to meet it. The movement of the arms will keep the balance of the body and bring the other leg from the ground."|
We have come a long way since Westhall wrote his definition. Oh, we don't throw out the perfectly straight leg boldly (now referred to as overstriding), and we don't swing the arms well across the well-thrown-out chest, but his definition still paints a picture of a race walker with whom we can all identify. I now have the audacity to use more than a dozen pages, thousands of words, and a large number of images to try to explain what he said in three sentences and 125 words. (Maybe we haven't come all that far after all.)
The rest of this section is devoted to explaining the technical skills used by advanced and top-tier race walkers, the skills that set the standard to which most of us aspire. As I have noted elsewhere, however, I have created this section to try to help the vast majority of race walkers and I will not cloud the issues by writing for the super-technicians and world-class athletes (who have much better sources of information).
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