11 - HOW TO INCREASE YOUR SPEED
1. Most new race walkers, especially competitive ones, want to go as fast as they can as soon as they can. You shouldn't! It takes time to develop proper technique and you should never walk faster than your technique will allow. Walking too fast too soon will usually cause you to develop a bad technique--a technique that will significantly limit your top speed later. Be patient. Focus on proper technique in the beginning, and speed will come of its own accord. As you become more confortable with good technique, and find you can race walk without getting cautions or warnings from the judges. There will be plenty of time to test your speedometer.
2. Speed depends on step rate (heel strikes per minute) AND step length (distance between one heel strike and the next one--with the opposite foot). While good results can be achieved by increasing either--and great results achieved by increasing both--most new race walkers should focus on increasing their step rate first.
3. A high step rate (also referred to as quick turnover) can most easily be achieved by planting each heel just in front of the centerline of the torso (no more than 10" in front) Some quick steppers plant their heels almost directly under the torso.
4. When you begin to increase your step length, focus on increasing it behind your body rather than in front of it. The heel plant should remain in roughly the same place but, by using greater hip rotation to delay toe off, you should be able to push forward from the trailing foot longer -- thereby developing more power and speed, AND achieving a longer step length.
Going back to the picture of Jefferson Perez I showed you earlier, I count him taking about 187 step per minute--which is about his actual step rate. It takes a lot of practice to be able to step this fast and be legal