Friday night, May 18th, eighteen folks came together for the 7th Annual Racewalk Retreat, held by Ero-Fit & Associates. In the tradition of past retreats, each year continues to get better with the addition of IR spa treatment. And this year’s retreat was no exception.
Held at the Tualatin Hills Park & Recreation Center in Beaverton, OR, the objective of this retreat is to teach walkers of all levels – the very beginner, the fitness or speed walker, and the competitive racewalker – the rules of and refining techniques of the sport of Olympic-style racewalking.
This year, Judy Heller, founder/owner of Ero-Fit & Associates, featured Tim Seaman, 2000 Olympian and American Record Holder, as this year’s Guest Coach. Judy and Tim were joined by returning coaches, John Hanan and Kelly Murphey-Glenn.
The retreat started Friday evening with introductions by all participants. Each one of the attendees had their own reasons for attending – from learning “what this is all about”, to becoming faster and thus more competitive in their Portland-to-Coast teams to refining their techniques to become faster. Each story is as unique as their goals.
Then came a presentation by Suzanne Girard Eberle, M.S., R.D. Suzanne, author of “Endurance Sports Nutrition” (Human Kinetics, 2000, 296 pages, $18.95). A registered dietician, former elite athlete and a competitive runner for over 25 years, Suzanne discussed sports nutrition including the key concerns facing racewalkers as it pertains to their training and performance (fluids and fuel), the fueling cycle, and dieting fads. In addition, she introduced a unique perspective to the food pyramid, informing participants of portion size and how critical incorporating all the food groups are for maintaining not only a healthy lifestyle but also how critical it is for exercise performance. Suzanne’s energetic and personable approach to her instruction was engaging, interesting and informative.
Tim then set the stage for the next two days stating his goal for participants was to “learn enough so we can teach others.” His take on the sport of racewalking is of one big family where we all “want to compete, get medals, and visit with friends.” The agenda for Saturday was reviewed and the evening ended with instructions for participants to get plenty of rest to prepare for a busy next day.
Saturday morning started with a one-mile prediction – where participants write down what they think their time to walk a mile would be. The goal of this exercise was not to race and go fast but to get a feel for your body, your pace — to assess how fast you are going by how you feel. Participants were video-tapped during this drill, which was later reviewed by all and critiqued by the coaches. This allowed each participant to know what to focus on at the retreat. Outside, Tim went through a series of stretches and flexibility drills that looked more interesting (??) then the sport itself! But through this, participants were able to see a difference in the others as they learned these important technique-enabling drills and the camaraderie between them began to build. There was a lot of support and one-on-one focus by Judy, John, Kelly and Tim but the help the participants provided each other made the group really act more as a team than attendees to a class. “… made a safe learning environment. Even those with all the experience were encouraging. [I] felt welcome even though I‘m not a world class athlete.” Heidi Lindner, Canby, OR