Progress is slow but steady. I got my first pair of shoes specifically for race walking at Delaware Running Company last week, the Saucony Fastwitch 5, and these shoes have ATTITUDE:
Love 'em! Turns out my standard running shoe size (10's and 10.5's) that I've worn for over 15 years are a touch too loose and contributed to my heel blisters. Now I'm in a 9.5 and my feet are so much happier!
I'm figuring out little ways to kickstart the fast walker in me, because as a trained runner, walking is by default slow and steady. I've incorporated a couple treadmill runs twice a week in the morning at Fusion Fitness, and it's actually kind of fun. Almost like a game to me: see how high I can get the speed up without breaking form and going into a trot/jog. I remember learning about that transition point when I was in college, exercise physiology class--there is a preferred walk-to-run transition speed, the point where it is actually easier and more efficient to run at a certain speed than to walk that fast. Right now I'm capping myself at 5mph and seeing how long I can hold that speed for.
What else is fun is that when I go at 7am, it is quiet enough that I get to watch Curious George on PBS. Yep, while the cardio machines next to me are tuned into the boring news or overpaid pro sports, I always switch the channel to cartoons. :)
On Saturdays I've been doing a 1km marked loop at a nearby park. Then I see how far I can walk in an hour, and take splits for each 1km. Without fail, I negative split every single lap. I guess I just need to get warmed up and get a rhythm going! I've been tracking my best 5km, which is always the last 5 laps since I'm a stud negative-splitter. 2 weeks ago was 43:50, last weekend was 39:04 and yesterday was 36:09! All unofficial times without judges of course, but I am pretty focused on staying "legal."
Before I can start real training, I need to be able to race walk 5 days a week for an hour without my shins screaming at me. They are much better than a week ago. I got in all 5 days, two of them were 30-min treadmill sessions and the others were all one hour. PROGRESS.
I don't plan to enter any races until I get myself under 10-min miles. (Still nowhere near elite level, but hopefully fast enough to not embarrass myself.) Which means a 30-min 5km, and if I can do that, it's just a matter of tapping into my endurance for a sub-hour 10km and sub-2hr 20km. Qualifying for the Olympic Trials means a 1:48 20km. But let's not get ahead of ourselves. A 30-min 5km is the first goal!
In other news, I also saw my chiropractor Dr. Jannelli, my "Body Mechanic", for the first time since I retired from triathlon. He always checks that my pelvis is balanced and was SHOCKED when I came in on Wednesday. In a good way too! I've seen him for over a year now and when I lie face-down, my pelvis has always been uneven. My racewalk coach "Mr. Miyagi" has me doing all these hip mobility drills every day and apparently they are magic. Dr. J concluded that my body has been more balanced than he's ever seen it, and by far (he had to check at least 3 times because he couldn't believe it). Then he said the same thing I had been thinking this whole time--being a race walker is so much better for me than being a triathlete.
Maybe I was meant for this.