Runners have no restrictions. Because of that, they can keep the knee of the supporting leg bent as it passes under the body. As a result, they can then both straighten the knee and push with the toes with enough force to leave the ground and effortlessly fly for almost one half of each step. The "flying" process makes running more efficient, and allows the runner to move fast.
Race walkers, however, have to follow the two rules of race walking. Not only can they not keep their knee bent, they can not fly if they want to. Observing the two rules, the fastest race walkers can not go as fast as the fastest runners, and they must find other ways to go fast.
In the animation at right, I have made the runner and the race walker appear to be together and swinging their arms at the same time. In the real world, while they are working equally hard and taking the same number of step each minute, the runner would actually be moving faster.
The way race walkers walk, therefore, becomes very important if they want to walk fast. All of the discussion about posture, shoulders, arms, hands, hips, knees, feet, step length, and step rate that you will see on the following screens (and in all the literature about race walking) is designed to help a race walker be the fastest that he or she can be.
The best race walkers usually have natural talent, have good coaches, and train intensely. But it often boils down to how well they know how to walk that makes the difference between the winners and the wish-they-had's at the end of a race.
Walking a certain way, the race walking way, is very important.
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