Deciding how far and how fast to race often seems difficult. If you decide on your first week of race walk training that you will follow the 22-minute, 5K schedule, you will not only fail, but also probably injure yourself along the way.
When selecting an initial goal, start with shorter distance races first and work your way up to longer races. The training program for each race goal includes a minimum distance to walk the first week. If you typically walk much less than that distance, you need to build up to the starting distance slowly. Add a few miles each week until you bridge the gap. Then assess your easy walking pace and try to match it to a program. This provides a fairly accurate method for determining a realistic goal.
Once you start a training program, reassess its appropriateness after about three weeks. If you feel you cannot meet most workout target times, switch to a slower schedule. Use common sense and do not train through injuries. Do not stay on a schedule if you constantly feel sore or tired, like you completed a marathon every day.
I designed each program to train walkers at the minimum sustained pace and distance needed to achieve a targeted goal. Some people need more training, others less. My programs offer a safe approximation of the work you need to accomplish to ensure reaching your goals without getting hurt or over-training.
How you train determines how you race. By training like you race, you maximize your chances of success. Therefore, a few weeks before your goal race, try to race walk your hard workouts at the same time of day as your race.