Solana Beach Racewalking Clinic

Solana Beach Clinic 085

Pretty nice place for an early morning racewalking jaunt..eh?

Solana Beach, California;

The advanced clinic was awesome as I knew it would be. Dave always puts on a hell of a class and is one of the funniest guys you’ll ever meet. I don’t think Ive never been in the company of so many World Class racewalkers at one time. 3 time Olympian, Philip Dunn, was there along with a host of other National and International champions. Also attending the clinic was an up and coming young collegiate racewalker by the name of Jose Moncado . His coach is Chris Rael. Man o Man, can this kid walk fast! More like flying actually…

And speaking of Chris Rael, I finally got to meet him. Chris is the creator of Racewalk Planet TV. Ive been watching his racewalking videos for years (this is one of my favorites, though his son is actually the one who filmed it.). An accomplished racewalker and coach in his own right, Chris produces all kinds of racewalking media, including racewalking videos and podcasts. He wanted to interview me for one of his upcoming podcasts, but I had to skip out early on Sunday and missed the opportunity. Hopefully I’ll get the chance to hook up with him again.

Did I mention that I suck at racewalking? I don’t know what happened. I looked horrible on the video analysis. I was slow, clunky and actually looked worst than I did 2 years ago at the last clinic. I didn’t have that nice smooth roll- through that the good racewalkers usually have. My form was really off. I had what they call “soft knees”, meaning that my landing leg was bending prematurely through my stride. Ok for runners, but a violation for racewalkers. Despite my lackluster performance though, I’m very grateful I got to take part in the clinic. I’m humbled and learned a lot. As Dave pointed out , that’s why you attend clinics ….to get better! And really, how many people get the opportunity to have their racewalking skills analyzed and critiqued by Olympians and National Champions?

Another thing Dave told me, which made a lot of sense, is that training to “regular walk” too many marathons (which Ive obviously been doing the past 2 years), can actually make you a slower racewalker . When you train to walk a marathon you spend a lot of time doing fat- burning, long slower training walks to build your endurance(what they call LSD’s). You gain endurance , but you loose the fast twitch muscle response that you need to be a good racewalker over the shorter distances. He recommended doing more speed drills, making my feet more “active” in all phases of my stride, and stretching out my calves out so that I land on my heel better.

(here’s a shot of me where my form actually looks pretty good)
Solana Beach Clinic 047

Anyways, now that I know what I’m doing wrong, I can work on making it better. Still, the biggest problem I face in trying to become proficient in a sport like this, is that I simply don’t have the lung capacity . You can practice on your technique till the cows come home, but if you don’t have good lungs , you really can’t put the whole thing together and you certainly can’t compete in races. For me though, it’s never been about competition. It’s about doing and learning as much as you can for something you have a passion for. If you’re going to walk for fitness, why not learn about the mechanics and science behind it. Why not hang out with people who love the sport as much as you do. I know I’ll never be great at racewalking, but I get out there anyway, because it makes me feel good about myself.

Advanced Clinic , Class of 2009
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Solana Beach Clinic 077
Had to get Philip’s and Dave’s sponsor in the shot

For those who attended the clinic, it was an honor to meet you all. Here’s a link to some of the photos I took. Sorry, I have a slow camera and wasn’t able catch everyone in full-stride.

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4 Comments

  1. Amy says:

    Wow! That sounds like an incredible experience. AG plays volleyball now, (Go, asthmatics and exercise!) and she has an amazing coach who is affiliated in some way w/the Olympics volleyball program. How excited am I to live in a real city again?

    Anyway, that's off subject and what I meant to say is, I love this:

    "For me though, it’s never been about competition. It’s about doing and learning as much as you can for something you have a passion for. If you’re going to walk for fitness, why not learn about the mechanics and science behind it. Why not hang out with people who love the sport as much as you do."

    • Hi Amy, thanks a million for that! Yes, there's no reason that people, even with severe asthma, shouldn't exercise. I think I get a bigger emotional boost than a physical one, when I exercise or participate in a sport I like.

  2. marsh says:

    how come your worried about how you look when your walkin????? i think the fact that your verical is a goooood sign tehe!!!!!! sounds like your fellin a little better well e me when you can and we'll chat marsh

    • Hi Marsh, In the sport of Racewalking, it's all about how you look. The position of your legs and feet is everything. During training sessions we spend hours being video taped to make sure out form and technique are correct. Unlike running, racewalking is a judged sport. There are only 2 rules to the sport, but if you break any of them more than twice, you're automatically disqualified from a race. #1). The knee of the forward leg must remain locked until it passes underneath your body. #2) One foot must always be in contact wit the ground. The funny hip motion you see racewalkers do, is what propels them forward.

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