Sport Walking is an endurance walking discipline, that is all about tackling challenges. It isn’t a specific walking style, or technique like Race Walking, Nordic Walking or Power Walking – you can ‘Sport Walk’ any way you like because the way you walk isn’t important, it’s the challenge itself that counts.
This might be taking part in an organised event, such as an ultra marathon or one of the many charity challenge events that have become so prevalent like the ‘Oxfam Trail Walker’ series. It might be a personal challenge, such as walking one of the National Trails in the fastest time you can. All that matters is that you approach each walk as a sporting endeavour, have a goal, go as fast as you’re able to and that you have one foot on the ground at all times!
At ‘Sport Walk’ we’re working to promote and establish Sport Walking as a key endurance activity. Our motto is ‘Move fast, go light, challenge yourself’ and this perfectly sums up all that Sport Walking is.
There are very strong similarities between Trail Running and Sport Walking, in fact you could say that the only difference is that Sport Walkers walk and Trail Runners run! The range of distances covered, the terrain and approach to the challenge are almost identical, especially at ‘Ultra’ level.
Rise to the Challenge
Challenges shape everything you do as a Sport Walker because that’s where the sport lies. There are the challenges themselves, the training for these challenges and then there’s general every day training without a target in mind, where you can focus on becoming stronger and faster or practice optimising and refining the way you walk, to become more efficient.
There are so many measures, so many ‘metrics’ in sport generally and each person’s goal will be different. It’s the same in Sport Walking. For an experienced long distance walker, the objective is likely to be completing a route of between 100k and 100 miles, maybe even longer. For a new Sport Walker, the challenge might just be to walk 10k.
Focus on Performance
Regardless of the distance or your experience, your approach to the task would be the same. Firstly, the whole point is to go as fast as you can – that’s why it’s Sport Walking! The next thing is to approach it as an athlete would approach any sport – to train, to look at all the ways you can improve your performance, to optimise the kit you use, to refine your walking style. All these elements will bond together and the net result will be that you’ll achieve more (whether that be going longer or going faster).
The way you measure your progress is to track, monitor and assess your performance using sports data and this is another key feature of Sport Walking. You don’t want to just go out and walk, you want to track and record your training sessions and learn from them. You could log your time vs distance and work out your stats manually on paper but sports watches and online apps give you so much information that it’s well worth embracing tech and going digital.
Measuring your performance is one of the aspects of Sport Walking that does actually distinguish it from some other types of walking, particularly those like Power or Nordic Walking, which are often more focussed on being a work out. Understanding how your pace is improving and also seeing in black and white, how you’re able to maintain that pace over longer distances is invaluable to help you achieve your goals.
Just Get Walking
So, essentially that’s it. Sport Walking is probably the most accessible endurance foot sport because most people will be able to Sport Walk four or five times longer than they can run. You don’t need any specialist equipment, although you will of course benefit from using more technical lightweight versions of basic equipment. You don’t need to ‘learn’ how to sport walk, follow any technique instructions or adhere to any rules (except to always have one foot on the ground at all times).
The last thing to know about Sport Walking is that it doesn’t change who you are. If you Sport Walk or think of yourself as a Sport Walker, it doesn’t mean that you can’t be a Rambler on a Sunday afternoon, just as if you’re a runner it doesn’t mean that you’re expected to run everywhere.
And finally, to those who say you can’t enjoy the view if you’re walking as fast as you can, that’s just not true. Try looking at how slowly the landscape moves by at 6-7kph, you won’t miss a thing! AND you can still stop to take snaps – it’s your challenge, your time and you can use it however you want.
If you love walking, you’ll love Sport Walking! Walkers have always set challenges – walking Hadrian’s Wall, the West Highland Way or the South Downs Way. Sport Walking just adds a little spice by placing emphasis on pace, endurance and measuring performance.
‘Move fast, go light, challenge yourself’… it might just be the best thing you’ve tried!