Nordic walking or – thanks to a typo in an enthusiastic email from a pole brand many years ago – often referred to as Nordic wa*king at GWA HQ: I’m a bit ashamed to say that the sport was recipient of many a derisory comment. Utterly unfair as not one of us had ever given it a go, but that is so often the nature of belittling something.
Earlier this year I was given the chance to either partake in a day of mountain-biking or Nordic walking. Now I don’t mountain bike – I tried it once in the New Forest and spent most of the experience trying not to cry and wishing I was elsewhere rather than delighting in my environment. So clearly that was out… but Nordic walking? The thing I had mocked? I just had to swallow my pride and give it a go.
It quickly became clear that I’d been mocking something that I just didn’t understand. I refer to it above as a sport, because the first revelation was just that – by adding (the correct) poles to your walk, you get the benefit get a full body workout.
The first thing to get sorted before you get started is your pole length. My trial day featured simple twist/clip telescopic adjustable poles. These Leki C100 take things to the next level – they come in 6 lengths and can be folded down into 3 tiny sections, making them easily transportable. Made from carbon they are also super lightweight – weighing at approx 190g, but seriously robust and strong.
Now once you’ve got that bit set up, it’s a case of ‘clipping-in’ and striding off. Nordic walking poles come with a glove system, that connects to the pole – the gloves with this particular Leki pole are ergonomic and super minimalist and the super slick looking ‘shark’ clip system allows you to detach from your pole one handed.
The grip is made from cork, which is lovely and comfortable whilst still being grippy.
What converted me to this whole experience is that it improved my walking – I get out and about on two feet a lot – having a dog tends to do that. I’ve always been a fast walker but it transpires that I’ve not been very efficient and my posture tends to make people wince. Adding these poles has straightened my back, and my stride and gait have improved no end and going up hills is now child’s play!
Indeed one of the big selling points of the sport during the open day was how athletes use Nordic walking when recovering from injury as it keeps their fitness up, whilst keeping impact on the body low. I won’t bang on too much here – but you can see a heap of really useful videos on the Leki YouTube channel
I really love these Leki poles, and they tend to live ready to go by my back door. However I recently tucked them into their supplied travel bag and took them on a trip to North Wales. As you’ll see from the pictures above most of my local walks tend to be on fairly grassy terrain. In Wales the ground was fairly rocky/slate covered, and the tap-tap of the poles was a tad grating to my fellow wanderers. If this also bugs you, the you’ll be pleased to hear that you can buy some rubber tips for the ends.
In short, no more mocking at GWA HQ – anyone who makes a sly dig gets a prod with my pole – and whilst my technique could be improved upon these poles certainly can’t.