Glossary of Terms

Walking Terminology


  • Aerobic Metabolism

    The creation of energy through the combustion of carbohydrates and fats in the presence of oxygen.

    The only byproducts are carbon dioxide and water, which your body disposes of by breathing and sweating.

  • Aerobic Zone

    In this zone of exercise intensity, the body uses both stored fat and carbohydrates for energy.

    At 70-80% of your maximum heart rate, 50% of your calories burned in this zone are fats, 1% are proteins and 50% are carbohydrates.

  • Anaerobic Metabolism

    The creation of energy through the combustion of carbohydrates in the absence of oxygen.

    This occurs when the lungs cannot put enough oxygen into the bloodstream to keep up with the demands from the muscles energy.

  • Anaerobic Zone

    The anaerobic zone is 80% to 90% of your maximum heart rate. It varies by age and fitness level.

  • B

  • BMI - Body Mass Index

    Body Mass Index (BMI) is a relationship between weight and height that is associated with body fat and health risk.

  • BMR - Basal Metabolic Rate

    Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) is the number of calories your body burns at rest to maintain normal body functions.

    It is the amount of calories per day your body burns, regardless of exercise. It changes with age, weight, height, gender, diet and exercise habits.

  • Board Last

    In shoe construction, the upper is attached to the bottom of a flexible board on top of the midsole.

    It makes the shoe more rigid and stable and suitable for those who underpronate oroverpronate.

  • C

  • Calorie

    The measure of energy expenditure. The calories referred to in diet and exercise are kilocalories (kcal) - 1000 of the calories referred to in science labs for measuring chemical reactions.

  • Carbo-Loading

    Eating high-carbohydrate meals such as pasta in the three days before a long distance walk or run.

  • Cardiac Drift

    The tendency for heart rate to rise gradually throughout a workout due to dehydration and rising temperature within the muscles.

  • Center Of Gravity

    An imaginary point that would exist if you crushed your body down to a single, centrally located point. In humans, this point lies behind, and just below, the navel.

    The right posture for easy and efficient walking depends on keeping your center of gravity over your feet.

  • Chafing

    Painful condition caused by salt from sweat and rubbing. Chafing commonly occurs at crotch, upper thighs, underarms, nipples, and under-breast areas.

  • Combination Lasted

    In shoe construction, the board method is used in the heel and the slip method in the forefoot.

  • Crosstraining

    Training in exercise activities other than your primary sport, to improve fitness without over-taxing the muscles used in your primary sport.

  • Curved Last

    The last determines the shape of the shoe. A curved last curves inward at the insole. It is good for those with a high, rigid arch.

  • D

  • Disqualification

    Disqualification ccurs when three judges decide that your racewalking technique does not conform to the rules of racewalking: you are "lifting" or "creeping."

  • Double Support

    The part of the racewalking stride when both feet are in contact with the ground.

    For racewalkers, this is very brief. It occurs right as the lead foot strikes the ground and the rear foot is pushing off.

  • Driving Phase

    The component of a racewalking stride that occurs between the point when the back foot leaves the ground, and when the heel of that foot makes contact with the ground in front of the body.

  • E

  • Exertional Compartment Syndrome

    A condition where the muscles swell against the tough fascia lining in the leg and cause pain. Most lower leg pain is due to shin splints, and only rarely due to compartment syndrome.

  • F

  • Fast Twitch Muscle Fibers

    Muscle fibers that produce energy by breaking down glycogen in the absence of oxygen. They produce rapid contractions, but create lactic acid as a by-product.

    Some fast-twitch fibers are convertible to non-lactate producing slow-twitch muscle fibers.

  • Fat Burning Zone

    In this zone of exercise intensity, the body uses stored fat for energy. At 60-70% of your maximum heart rate, 85% of your calories burned are fats, 5% are proteins and 10% are carbohydrates.

  • Flight Phase

    The short period of the stride where both of a walker's feet are off the ground. A flight phase increases a walker's effective stride length, but slows down stride frequency.

    This phase must be shorter than can be detected by the human eye, or the racewalker may get a warning or disqualification for lifting.

  • G

  • Glycogen

    Glycogen is a carbohydrate stored in the liver and muscles. Glycogen is used as a fuel during exercise. The body generally has enough glycogen stored to sustain 65-85 minutes of exercise.

  • Glycolysis

    The creation of energy through the intramuscular combustion of glycogen. In other words, the muscles burning stored sugar for energy.

  • H

  • Healthy Heart Zone

    This cardiovascular exercise zone is at 50-60% of your maximum heart rate.

    The body burns 85% fat, 10% carbohydrates and 5% protein when in this zone.

  • Heart Rate Monitor

    A device you wear that measures and displays your heart rate while exercising. Commonly, it has a monitor strap held in place around the chest by an elastic band.

  • Heart Rate Reserve

    The difference between a person's resting heart rate and maximum heart rate. It is the range of heart rates that he or she could achieve.

  • Heel Counter

    The rear-most part of the shoe, at the back of the heel above the sole. It is rigid and provides support.

  • Heel Notch

    The slight depression at the top a shoe's heel counter. It prevents or reduces irritation of the Achilles tendon and provides a more secure heel fit.

  • Heel Spur

    A painful foot condition caused by inflammation and injury of the plantar fascia - the thick ligamentous connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot.

  • K

  • Kilometer

    A measure of distance that is equal to 0.62 miles or 1,000 meters. It is a standard distance for many walking and running events.

  • L

  • Lactic Acid

    Lactic acid is a by-product of anaerobic glycolysis and anaerobic metabolism. Although used as a fuel by the heart, excessive lactic acid slows down contractions of the skeletal muscles, preventing you from walking fast.

  • Lifting

    The failure to maintain contact with the ground at all times while racewalking.

  • M

  • Marathon

    A walking or running event of 26.2 miles (26 miles, 385 yards precisely) or 42 kilometers. This is an Olympic distance event.

  • Maximum Heart Rate

    The highest number of times a walker's heart can beat in a minute of exercising.

    Maximum heart rate is a genetically determined "random" variable; it has no bearing on a walker's current fitness or potential as an athlete.

  • Midsole

    The shoe sole between the outer sole (which contacts the ground) and the shoe upper. It is made of a variety of materials to give the shoe various characteristics of cushioning, support, and flexibility.

  • O

  • Orthotics

    Custom-made shoe inserts that correct gait problems, provide foot support, relieve pressure on painful areas of the foot, and provide motion control.

  • Outer Sole

    The shoe sole where the foot meets the ground.It is usually made of carbon rubber or blown rubber or a combination of both.

    Carbon rubber is stiffer and lasts longer and may be used in the high-wear areas of the sole, with the softer blown rubber in other areas.

  • P

  • Plantar Fasciitis

    A painful foot condition caused by inflammation of the plantar fascia - the thick ligamentous connective tissue that runs from the heel to the ball of the foot.

  • Pronation

    Pronation refers to the natural side-to-side movement of the foot as you walk or run. The foot rolls a bit inward with each step, and with the correct gait should begin to roll outward with the toe-off.

  • R

  • Racewalk Creeping

    One of the rules of racewalking is that the knee must be straight from the time the forward heel touches the ground, through the point where the forward leg passes under the center of the body.

    If the knee is bent at any time in that phase, it is called creeping and can incur a warning or may be disqualified from the race.

  • Red-Line Zone

    Exercise intensity in the red-line cardio exercise zone is 90-100% of your maximum heart rate. It burns calories faster than the other zones, but 90% are carbohydrates, 10% fat and less than 1% protein.

  • Resting Heart Rate

    The number of times a walker's heart beats per minute while at complete rest. Resting heart rate will decrease as the walker's heart becomes larger and stronger with training.

  • S

  • Semi-Curved Last

    The last determines the shape of the shoe. A semi-curved last has a slight curve inward at the insole. It is good for those with a normal arches and neutral gait.

  • Shin Splints

    A pain in the lower leg caused by overuse of the muscles. The pain is sharp when walking and ceases when you stop moving.

    The pain may be anterior shin splints in the front of the leg or posterior shin splints in the calf muscles at the back of the leg.

  • Shoe Last

    The form on which a shoe is constructed - resulting in the inside shape of the shoe. Lasts may be straight, curved or semi-curved.

  • Single-Support Phase

    The part of a racewalker's stride when the straightened leg is directly under the body. Before the leg passes, the kneee must not be bent.

    After it passes under the body, the walker may bend the knee.

  • Slip Last

    In shoe construction, the shoe upper is pulled over the last and then attached to the midsole. The resulting shoe is lighter and good for those with rigid feet who need more motion.

  • Slow Twitch Muscle Fibers

    Muscle fibers that produce energy by converting fats into energy aerobically. They are not able to contract as quickly as fast twitch muscle fibers, but they do not produce lactic acid as a byproduct.

  • Sprain

    Sprain is trauma to a joint causing pain and swelling. It may cause disability depending on the degree of injury to the ligaments, which may be torn in a severe sprain.

  • Straight Last

    Straight refers to the shape of the shoe. A straight last shoe is symmetrical relative to a line drawn on the bottom of the shoe from the middle of the heel to the middle of the toe.

  • Stress Fracture

    A break in the bone caused by repetitive stress such as walking or running. It may be a crack and can progress to a complete break.

    Stress fracture of the metatarsal bones in the foot are common.

  • Supination

    Supination is a rolling motion to the outside edge of the foot during a step. The foot naturally supinates during the toe-off stage as the heel first lifts off the ground until the end of the step.

    This provides more leverage and to help roll off the toes.

  • Shoe Upper

    The shoe upper is everything on the the shoe above the sole. This includes the heel counter, toe box, tongue, laces. The upper of an athletic shoe is often made of, nylon mesh or leather.

  • V

  • Vaulting Phase

    The component of a racewalker's stride where the straightened leg pushes back, vaulting the body forward.

  • VO2 Max

    A measure of the maximum amount of oxygen that a person can take in and process during exercise. It is measured in milliliters of oxygen per kilogram of body mass per minute.

    It is one measure of a walker's athletic potential.