How to start race walking

Race walking is an endurance sport which requires carefully controlled technique. It's essential to have lessons and be advised by an expert if you want to start race walking.

Start race walking by working on your technique

Keeping permanent contact with the ground, and keeping the advancing leg straightened until the vertical upright position are the two rules that govern race walking. These two rules, when combined with the specific movements involved in fast walking, may be difficult for a beginner to master. 

France boasts athletes such as Yohann Diniz, who is one of the best walkers in the world. To make this discipline more accessible, the French Athletics Federation organises race walking events that allow you to discover this sport. 

If you can't, or don't want to go to this kind of event, why not contact a club that has race walking coaches? You need to learn and master the technique before you set off on the country paths or put on your first race bib.


Beginner exercises for learning the race walking technique

There are some simple short exercises that will help you to develop a glancing stride, a full heel-to-toe transition, a good heel strike and a straight advancing leg.

Here are a few small exercises that will allow you to train your feet:

• Exercise 1: over 10 m, walk only on your heels, and then come back walking only on your tiptoes.

• Exercise 2: walk while concentrating on rolling out your foot. You should really feel the heel-arch-toe transition.

Once you have mastered the leg technique, now it's time to work on your arms - the walker's forward drivers. By carrying small poles or light weights in your hands, you will be able to concentrate on the to-and-fro movement of your arms. 

By working on this movement, firstly on the spot, and then walking, you will be able to walk faster and therefore increase your calorie expenditure. In race walking, the arms are called the second engine.


Transferring this technique to endurance walking

Don't forget that race walking is an endurance sport, and that this technique needs to be maintained over ever-increasing distances and durations.

To do so, you can start track walking in short bursts while making sure you concentrate on your technique, for 6-10 minutes at a time. Gradually increase the duration of your race walking sessions, just as you would when running. If you would like to increase your walking speed, you will need to do occasional sessions of interval training. So, get out your stopwatches and head to the track!


Using video, Decathlon Coach and a connected watch

Video can be a useful tool for improving your technique from your very first sessions. It will help you to quickly pinpoint and correct your mistakes. To measure your progress and sessions: download the free Decathlon Coach app. And if you would like to monitor your heart rate, the Geonaute connected watches are ideal for extra tracking.

You have no more excuses for not discovering race walking!



Use Decathlon Coach or a connected watch to track your progress. With some models you can programme your workouts and track your heart rate in real time.