Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Walking a Marathon

In this post, I'll give a very brief discussion of walking a marathon.

If someone is thinking about walking a marathon, some typical questions are: is this something I should even try? Am I fit enought to think about trying, and if so, how long will it take me to be ready?

I am not going to answer these questions, but I'll direct you to the best, most concise advice I can find:

Patti Finkie from Team Oregon has a nice, consise piece here:
http://www.teamoregon.com/publications/wlkmar.html
(note: by volksmarch she means an orgainized walking event. I'd substitute "occasional local fun run that allows for walkers).

Of course, this doesn't tell you how to train or what sort of marathon to try (most marathons have time limits, some of which would be too tough for most walkers to meet).

A more comprehensive guide to marathon walking can be found at The Walking Site's Marathon Walking Section. Now if you really want even more information, along with training schedules, etc., you can try Dave McGovern's Book The Complete Guide to Marathon Walking.

I should point out that there is sometimes a stigma associated with walking. For example, some runners asked me why I was walking as "I used to run". Or other newbies wondered why someone "as fit as I was" would want to walk.

Here is one reason why: when most people think of "walkers", they think this:



instead of this:
Note the runners in the background attempting to keep up with Angela; she walked this marathon in the 4:50's.
And they certainly don't think of this:
These are Olympic racewalkers; they guy in the red is Polish racewalker Robert Korzenowski who won the Olympic Gold Medal in the 50 km (31 mile) racewalk in 1996, 2000 and 2004. He also won the 20K in 2000 as well; his personal best for the 50K is 3:36, which is amounts to a 6:58 minutes per mile pace! (right at a 3 hour marathon split).

So, one can walk the marathon in a very athletic way. For the record, my best marathon walk was 4:44 at Quad Cities (2002; my name is listed as "Manyes") though my technique would have drawn a ticker tape parade of "red cards" had there been racewalking judges there. My best walk with reasonable technique was 5:12 at Quad Cities in 2004.


Above: Quad Cities, 2004. Yep, I am leaning forward from the waist but there is nothing wrong with the knees. I do have some hip action.

My fastest; I am around mile 20. Note: no hip action at all and I am leaning forward. But the lead leg is straight at this phase; it is when the leg moves back that I had trouble.

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