How to Walk Fast

Are you ready to step up your walk?  Here are three options:  Increase your tempo, lengthen your stride and wear fast shoes!

1. Increase your tempo.  If you have short legs and struggle to keep up with your long-legged walking buddy, here’s your chance to catch up: focus on increasing your cadence. Your arms control your speed.  The faster you pump them, the faster your legs will move.  Give it a try.

Photo Credit: Calvin Lau

Coach Carmen® TIP

Focus on driving your elbows back behind you and not in front of your body.  Swinging your arms too high in front will slow you down. 

Top race walkers can take up to 240 steps per minute (SPM) in a race.  That’s 4 steps per second.  To get an idea of what that feels like, set a countdown timer for 1:00 and start pumping your arms while standing in place.  (Tip:  Just count the right arm swing and double the number.)   This can be a good cardio workout without moving your legs, but don’t let this cadence keep you from trying it on your next walk. Top athletes don’t move at 240 SPM all the time.  They incorporate a mix of paces during the week. The bulk of their training are 30- 60 minute recovery walks or distance workouts of 90+ minutes at a tempo of 140-160 SPM. Once or twice a week, competitive walkers will head to the track to do distances of 800 meters (2 laps) to two miles (8 laps) at a pace of 161-180 SPM. Lastly, the 181+ SPM sprints are added for short distance training of 200m – 800m and racing of less than 3 miles. Longer distance athletes use this top pace for short bursts of speed within a longer workout. They also do short sprints to help warm up before a track workout. Other times they will finish a workout with 100 meter sprints to build confidence in their ability to finish strong at their next race. 

2.  Lengthen your stride.  Another way to finish sooner is to take less steps.  For example:  If your stride length is one meter, you’ll take 10,000 steps in a 10,000 meter race.  If you roll all the way off your toes to extend your stride behind you an inch or two (about 2-5 cm), while maintaining the same cadence, you’d effectively shave 250-500 meters off your race without having to walk faster!

In order to extend your stride, you’ll need to roll all the way over onto your toes. Swinging your elbows high and behind you will help.

Coach Carmen® TIPMost people sit too much.  This posture results in tight hip flexors.  If you stretch before you try to lengthen your stride, you’ll have better results.  Check with a trainer or coach to find the best stretch for you.

There are several ways to stretch your groin area. This one can be done as a 1:00 hold, but you can also slowly drop your knee to the floor and rise 10 times.

3. Wear Fast Shoes.  Most athletic retailers consider running shoes to be the best option for fast walking, but runners have vertical motion and walkers do not.  When Coach Carmen was unable to find a suitable shoe that provided the right cushioning and support for fast walking, she developed Reshod Walking Shoes, earning one US utility patent, and another pending.  Coach Carmen has walked competitively since 1986 and has coached walkers for over 20 years. Her pushover technology encourages walkers to extend their stride and power off their toes. 

These shoes are made with angled foam components to support and cushion your foot through the heel-toe stride.

That’s it!  GET FIT – HAVE FUN – WALK FAST!