PAN AM Athletics – Track and Field Footwork

pan am athletics     A 200 meter foot race called ‘stadion’ was the only event for the first thirteen Olympics more than 2700 years ago. The runners were barefoot (in fact, nude) and they started in a standing position.  The most grueling competition, in those days, was the foot race in full battle armour.  Longer distance running entered the arena of competition in and after the 14th Olympics.

Fast-forward to 2015, track and field athletics are prolific in variety….running short and long distances, jumping high and long, plus several oddball throwing events. There are even combinations of up to ten events performed by one athlete.  Changes overtime are a testimony to athletes’ increasing agility, strength and endurance, not to mention the watching world’s wider arena.


Focus: The Footwork of Race Walking

This most unusual of foot races is deceptively difficult. It is called ‘heel and toe’ walking; the heel of the front foot and the toe of the rear foot appear to be in contact with the ground at the same time.  Staying ‘grounded’ is a rule; one foot must be in contact with the ground at all times.  The other rule is that the knee of the leading leg must be straight when the heel strikes the ground until that leg passes under the body. Race walkers speed up and lengthen their strides by swiveling and tilting their hips.

Race Walking judges, positioned around the track, watch for infractions and enforce the rules with yellow and red cards.  As they rely on eye sight alone, there have been calls for technical assistance in judging. A ‘shoe alarm’, triggered when a race walker’s feet were off the ground for more than 30 or 40 milliseconds, was a passing idea.

Go to  –


Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last, but we do it to get a crown that will last forever.   1 Corinthians 9:25 (NIV)



“How to Bare Your Soles” – Advice from a Harvard Researcher


If you want to make the switch to barefoot running, or simply to learn the technique but still run in a pair of shoes, here’s how to do it:

On your feet:

Nothing. “If you really want to learn good technique, don’t use any shoe, because you get all that feedback from your feet,” Harvard researcher Daniel Lieberman says.


“The best way to learn is to have somebody run barefoot on a smooth, hard surface. Not on a lawn, not on a beach,” Prof. Lieberman says. Try your street (if it’s paved) or a parking lot. “Because if it’s the beach or a lawn, it’s soft and you can do whatever you want. But if it’s pavement, you quickly learn good form, because you get the feedback.”

Key mechanics:

Stay straight at the hips. “Leaning is verboten,” he says. “And you should have a nice high cadence and land with short strides. Get up to 170, 180 steps a minute. Make sure you don’t over-stride.”

How much:

Whether you’re barefoot or in a minimal shoe, start by running no more than 1 km a week. From there, increase your distance by 10 per cent each week, says Prof. Ferber. “We really want people to reduce their mileage and build up very slowly,” he says.


Everyone is different, but give it time. “I don’t think I’ve ever heard of anybody who’s transitioned in less than three or four months,” Prof. Lieberman says.  (



 Photo Source: