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Old 10-22-2012, 09:31 AM   #1
John VN
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Faster Walking-4:43:45 Space Coast Marathon this past Sunday post 30

First things first, I am not an instructor, just a 62 year old guy with lots of arthritis who NEEDS to find ways of making my activities enjoyable and less painful. The methods I use work great for me and maybe for you too but as with anything new, it takes some time. It took me 1.5 years to achieve my current walking Half Marathon PR of 2:11:12 and a couple of months longer for my 5K PR of 28:10.9. While no where near fantastic times, I think they are not too shabby for a walking geezer. I wish I had someone point me in the following direction to start with because I believe it would have made things a little easier and clearer for me.

Try this experiment....having someone next to you is helpful just in-case you start to fall. Watch the videos because they really help explain the bio-mechanics.

With 10 feet of clear floor in front of you, stand barefoot, no socks please, with your butt and head against a wall or door and the heels of your feet about one inch away. Slowly bend at hips keeping your back straight and butt touching. Feel the pressure build in your toes, shins and hamstrings? If you are flexible you can bend very far without falling and that is good.

Now resume the starting position but this time bend at the ankles, again keeping back straight as you slowly move away from the wall. You will reach a point when you will have to take short rapid steps forward to keep from falling. This is the principle of Chi Walking that I use to walk fast. Allowing gravity to help pull you forward reduces the amount of energy expended by your muscles needed to walk.

Also notice that when you take the short steps they most likely will be a mid-sole strike instead of a heel-plant strike. Heel strike is hard on all the joints and bones and can cause many types of injuries.

The application of this method of walking can be very hard for some to incorporate but I found that after a short time my body was actually more relaxed and I was walking faster using less effort to do so.

Although the following videos are about running, just watching will help to understand the techniques as they apply to running AND walking.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rYNZU...eature=related

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sP_BW...eature=related

So, just wondering how was the experiment?

Last edited by John VN; 11-28-2012 at 09:14 AM.
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Old 10-22-2012, 10:29 AM   #2
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Thanks, John! I will be checking out these videos tonight. Panda Dave already helped my walking technique with his tips so I'm looking forward to adding to my walking arsenal.
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Old 10-22-2012, 02:14 PM   #3
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Thanks John! I've been trying to do more of a Chi Walking technique for several months, but I have felt so awkward doing it that I haven't been very consistent. I've succeeded in adjusting my stride a little, but can't get all the way to the Chi Walking way so far.

When you say mid-foot, what exactly are you landing on? The ball of your foot? I'm at a point where I'm almost landing flat foot, the sole of my heel touches the ground a split second before the rest.

And when I've done the "walking faster because you're lean/falling", it feels like I'm landing really hard. I'm having trouble finding that balance between light on your feet and falling forward. Any advice?

I took out the Chi Walking book from the library, so I will be looking at that this week.
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Old 10-22-2012, 08:13 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lisah0711 View Post
Thanks, John! I will be checking out these videos tonight. Panda Dave already helped my walking technique with his tips so I'm looking forward to adding to my walking arsenal.
Dave's Race Walking, IMO, is poetry in motion but too technical for me. I enjoy walking my way without the restrictions that govern RW plus that heel plant kills me every time.

Quote:
Originally Posted by princessbride6205 View Post
Thanks John! I've been trying to do more of a Chi Walking technique for several months, but I have felt so awkward doing it that I haven't been very consistent. I've succeeded in adjusting my stride a little, but can't get all the way to the Chi Walking way so far.

When you say mid-foot, what exactly are you landing on? The ball of your foot? I'm at a point where I'm almost landing flat foot, the sole of my heel touches the ground a split second before the rest.

And when I've done the "walking faster because you're lean/falling", it feels like I'm landing really hard. I'm having trouble finding that balance between light on your feet and falling forward. Any advice?

I took out the Chi Walking book from the library, so I will be looking at that this week.
My mid-foot could be considered by some as a flat foot but I have a touch of the ball of my feet before the heel. This occurs because I bring my feet forward at a very low height. By doing so the ball area tends to strike a fraction of a second sooner than the heel thus creating some additional shock absorption and eliminating that THUD landing. Dave, PANDA, once said it was like a shuffle and he is almost correct. A shuffle would have the foot touching as it was brought forward and mine is close but still has elevation.

If you could walk barefoot on a shag carpet you would feel a shuffle walk. If you shuffle on grass that would also work. Shuffling on pavement would smart.

Try keeping your feet closer to the ground as you bring them forward but do this at a slow speed at first.

Good luck to all.
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Old 10-22-2012, 09:45 PM   #5
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Thanks John! I would love to be a fast walker. I'm going to watch the videos in the AM.
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Old 10-23-2012, 07:04 AM   #6
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OK, the lean feels strange but you do not need to lean to walk fast!.

I needed to first explain the Chi Walking principle that has worked for me and now I can help you to walk faster without needing to relearn how to walk in a race.

One very important element taken away from CW is the shorter stride that has the foot plant taking place under your body not out in front. When you plant out front you have to heel plant and that slows you down.

Try this next experiment......

Bare foot again in the house and standing tall with no lean. Just walk around and feel how your feet make first contact with the floor. Most people will heel plant. Now shorten your stride length a bit and try to plant with the rear area of the balls of your feet touching first, almost like a slap of the foot. The stride length should shorten and the shock sent up the leg should lessen. The new stride might feel funny but this is what will make you faster. Shoes on and go outside where you have straight, longer distances. Walk regularly with heel plant then shorten stride with mid-foot plant. More steps will be needed to cover the same distance but by preventing the shock from heel planting your body will actually be relaxing some muscles allowing you to quicken your pace a little. Overall, the faster pace will negate the shorter stride length resulting in more distance covered in the same amount of time.

Please, don't try to make a total change next time out training, rather incorporate the new stuff now and then making sure to #1-feel what is different and #2-the change does not hurt you in any way.

More to come.
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Old 10-23-2012, 06:38 PM   #7
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Thank you John for all of this great information. I am hoping to try it out. I have to get faster or I am in danger of being swept. At least I have more than a ear to train. My plan is to do the Princess half in 2014.
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Old 10-24-2012, 02:55 PM   #8
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John, as always, thank you for your help in this.

Right now, I can tell that I am walking in a distinct form. Whether or not that form resembles chi-walking, I have no idea. At least I'm not all over the place, arms flailing about, like I was when I first started. Progress is very s-l-o-w.

I will definitely try those exercises - thanks! What to do with my feet is continually a problem - your instructions make a lot of sense.

Still looking for the sub-16 mm but I still have a few months to go before the Princess.
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Old 10-24-2012, 08:00 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Never to old View Post
Thank you John for all of this great information. I am hoping to try it out. I have to get faster or I am in danger of being swept. At least I have more than a ear to train. My plan is to do the Princess half in 2014.
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Originally Posted by debbieandroo View Post
John, as always, thank you for your help in this.

Right now, I can tell that I am walking in a distinct form. Whether or not that form resembles chi-walking, I have no idea. At least I'm not all over the place, arms flailing about, like I was when I first started. Progress is very s-l-o-w.

I will definitely try those exercises - thanks! What to do with my feet is continually a problem - your instructions make a lot of sense.

Still looking for the sub-16 mm but I still have a few months to go before the Princess.
Glad to read about the enthusiasm you-all are expressing in making strides towards improvement. Reading something and then implementing what you have read is often very difficult and the worse thing for me would be to have someone try to follow in my foot steps() and become discouraged. Please respond if you have problems or don't understand. A PM is fine if you do not want to post.

I know that many people can walk much faster than they think they can and a cool part about walking fast is passing others with the fluidity and stealthiness that is achieved from training in a way that has less injury causing impact when compared to running or jogging.

Good luck and keep it fun!!!!
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Old 10-27-2012, 02:26 PM   #10
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Thanks for the advice! I implemented the "leaning from the ankle and foot plant under the body" technique and was able to do between 12:30 and 14:30 on most of my walk breaks today. Normally I do between 15 and 17 minutes per mile on my walks. It definitely feels different (i.e. works different muscles?) I ended up with a 15:05 avg pace for my 6 miles this morning. This is the first time I have ended up with a sub 16mm on an outside run and I really do think the walking technique helped tremendously.
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Old 10-29-2012, 05:33 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by irishtwins1112 View Post
Thanks for the advice! I implemented the "leaning from the ankle and foot plant under the body" technique and was able to do between 12:30 and 14:30 on most of my walk breaks today. Normally I do between 15 and 17 minutes per mile on my walks. It definitely feels different (i.e. works different muscles?) I ended up with a 15:05 avg pace for my 6 miles this morning. This is the first time I have ended up with a sub 16mm on an outside run and I really do think the walking technique helped tremendously.
That is so cool to read! I park my car about as far away from a store's entrance as possible and shift into lean mode on the way in at times. Sure don't have to be technically out training to use it.

Keep rocking!
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Old 10-29-2012, 06:13 AM   #12
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Efficient breathing is very important when working the body so here's my way...

Different exertion requires different rhythms. When regularly walking you can simply breathe without structure, i.e. normal non-controlled inhale/exhaust.
When training it is vital to supply your blood with adequate oxygen for the given effort and very easy to do so.

I like to double shot inhale and exhale with foot plants when walking at a semi fast pace. For me that would be a 10mpm to 12mpm pace. When going faster I inhale on foot strike and exhale on next foot strike. Very important to add the extra oxygen when working the muscles harder. You have to be consistent with the transition from double to single and this takes time to figure it out.

Think about a steam locomotive to simulate your breathing. The double shot will sound like a train leaving the station. Inhale with one foot strike and the next foot strike then exhale with the next two strikes using a puffing sound. Pronounce the letter O and with your lips in hat shape take short quick breathes then exhale short quick breathes. Make sure you breathe using your abdomen for intake and lungs for exhale. You can increase the frequency as you go faster but there comes a point that you must go to the in-out, in-out rhythm just to breathe adequately. It simply becomes very hard to double shot. Try this now at the computer so you can hear and feel the impact.

With this technique it will also become easier to increase your speed by forcing you to quicken your foot strikes/cadence. Make your cadence match your puffing. Faster breathing-faster pace. The two MUST go together.

Last edited by John VN; 10-29-2012 at 08:42 AM.
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Old 11-04-2012, 04:58 AM   #13
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The arm swing can help to speed you up or slow you down, tire you out and waste a bunch of energy.

As shown in videos and mentioned by many instructors, the 90 degree bend is ideal for arm positioning. Another important factor in being efficient is how you move your arms as you walk.

I keep my fists relaxed, slightly opened and use a short swing instead of the often seen punch-swing. A punch-swing is when a fist is formed, the backwards swing extends well past the torso and then the fist comes forward and is punched up to the sky. I'm pretty sure most people have seen this as a walker is making headway but the problem is it wastes energy. Any energy, calories, needed for muscles not being used to move forward, simply slows you down. Many walkers cross over in-front of their body with their hands also restricting air intake when inhaling, this too can slow you down.

I swing my arms horizontally front to rear with very little side to side motion, only about 6 inches to 10 inches. Keeping these short swings allows a better coordination with the more rapid foot strikes resulting in faster paces.
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Old 11-06-2012, 05:39 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by John VN View Post
The arm swing can help to speed you up or slow you down, tire you out and waste a bunch of energy.

As shown in videos and mentioned by many instructors, the 90 degree bend is ideal for arm positioning. Another important factor in being efficient is how you move your arms as you walk.

I keep my fists relaxed, slightly opened and use a short swing instead of the often seen punch-swing. A punch-swing is when a fist is formed, the backwards swing extends well past the torso and then the fist comes forward and is punched up to the sky. I'm pretty sure most people have seen this as a walker is making headway but the problem is it wastes energy. Any energy, calories, needed for muscles not being used to move forward, simply slows you down. Many walkers cross over in-front of their body with their hands also restricting air intake when inhaling, this too can slow you down.

I swing my arms horizontally front to rear with very little side to side motion, only about 6 inches to 10 inches. Keeping these short swings allows a better coordination with the more rapid foot strikes resulting in faster paces.
John, thank you! Why did I not think of this before? I have been using my arms when walking and have worked on not criss-crossing or over-swinging. But I had never thought of using my arms to help my legs move faster. I tried doing that this morning and it worked. Then I would get distracted and have to get back on track - oops!

Now I need to work on making that coordination of arms and feet more of a habit. Thank you again, Coach John. That really will help with my cadence.
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Old 11-06-2012, 06:18 PM   #15
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Quote:
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John, thank you! Why did I not think of this before? I have been using my arms when walking and have worked on not criss-crossing or over-swinging. But I had never thought of using my arms to help my legs move faster. I tried doing that this morning and it worked. Then I would get distracted and have to get back on track - oops!

Now I need to work on making that coordination of arms and feet more of a habit. Thank you again, Coach John. That really will help with my cadence.
You are very welcome, grasshopper.

Again-congratulation on your half!
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