Walking the Walk Back to the Home Page

Eric Lawson of the Sharks is featured in the September, 2000 issue of U.S. Kids, a Weekly Reader magazine that is distributed nationally.
Eric Lawson can race-walk faster than most people can run. See if you can run faster than Eric's 1500 meter race-walking time of 7 minutes and 48 seconds.
You're late, but the sign says: NO RUNNING.

Trouble, right?

Not for Eric Lawson.

Eric is a national champion race-walker. That means he can set a blistering pace without running a step. In fact, he can walk a 1500 meter race (nearly a mile) in 7 minutes and 48 seconds. Lots of people can't run that fast.

Race-walking's unusual-looking gait is easy to spot. There are strict rules the race-walkers have to walk by.

"You always have to keep your head up, and one foot has to be on the ground," says Eric, who is nine and lives in Crystal Lake, Illinois. "Your heel has to come down first. Your knees have to be straight. And you can't lift both feet at the same time. You don't want to start running."

To make sure the racers don't get carried away, race-walking events have judges. "If they see you running, they give you a warning," says Eric. "If you get three warnings, you're disqualified."

Eric's ability to focus is a big help when the judges are monitoring things so closely. "Sometimes when they think you are doing it wrong, they run up by you and look even more closely."

Race-walking is a skill you can't just step right into. It takes practice. "It probably took me about three years to get really good," Eric says. Even now, Eric and his teammates hit the track at least three times a week.

Since he also competes in running events, Eric divides his time between training for running and working on his walking.

The training is similar, and sometimes even more demanding for walking. "Race-walking is harder. If it's hot outside, I usually get really hot, hotter than I get when I run," he says. Leg soreness is a problem, too. "You have to keep your knees straight, and that makes your legs hurt."

Endurance is important in race-walking; training session include thirty- to forty-minute sessions of steady walking. "We usually do sprints, too, "Eric says. In race-walking, a sprint is 300 meters long.

Eric has to make time to train for running and race-walking. He says that race-walking is harder than running.

For the future, Eric is setting his sights on the summer national record, currently at 7:33. Since his best time so far is only fifteen seconds off that time, he stands a good chance of getting it done, step by walking step.

Last modification: 10/04/2000