Updated: Sep 27, 2019
Well, isn't it just the way. You casually mention that you're training for 0to50k (as you do), and then people chime in with 'Oh, you should try...'
Apparently, Nordic walking is my latest 'should try'.
One week later and I've ordered some poles on the internet. Only muppet me saw the advert for Nordic poles and didn't read the blurb that said: Quantity = 1
Two weeks later my second pole arrived in the most inappropriately sized box:
So I figured that I could drive Fierce Fanny home and walk to collect her - no mean feat as it was about 15 miles. With undulating hills, a few roads, a bit of woodland and a ton of muddy fields this seemed like the closest I would get to Norway for a while. Plus, the weather didn't look too bad.
I watched a 'how to walk with poles' video because somehow in my 44 years on this planet, I have not ever had the need to walk with sticks. I don't think I've even used crutches. According to the man who was extolling the use of poles, a mere snip of around 25 years old, he wanted his knees to last until he was 70. I simply want my knees to keep me walking to the fridge and back for as long as I live. Seems that without poles, I may have already done significant damage.
I pranced around the garden trying to follow his instructions whilst avoiding the ankle-snapping apples that have fallen in the recent winds, and then along the dirt gravel track. He demonstrated how going up, going flat and going down all had different techniques. I am lacking an up and a down bit in my local vicinity. I made sure, as he insisted, to get the strapping right - inserting one's hands from underneath so one's thumbs do not break in the event of a fall. I was sort of hoping that having poles would make falling significantly less likely, but hey ho. It worried me even more that he claimed using poles burnt off 40% more calories. I packed extra cake just in case.
Then I discovered you are supposed to take off the rubber end bits. So I re-did the exercise noting not a jot of difference.
And off I went in search of Fierce Fanny, who according to Komoot, was merely 15 miles away, add in the extra half-mile that was the route to the workshop, meant I had 15.5 miles to perfect my stick walking practices. Add in the missed the turn off, add in the missed crossing of the field, add in the walking the long way around a woodland, add in missing yet another turn off, add in missing another three crossings of fields, and my actual walk was 17.2 miles.
I thought I had left plenty of time, but when I'd only completed 10km, and already passed the two-hour mark, it dawned on me that walking with poles would save my knees, but it not half slowed me down. However, the poles came into their own in the latter stages of the walk, when I was able to continue at a reasonable pace by using the to almost 'ski' my way through a woodland. So, compared to my recent 19m trek, I actually had an overall faster mph, although the trek did take me longer than expected, partly because I had decided to collect Fierce Fanny, it meant I'd had to carry my helmet and wet-weather riding gear in a rucksack as well as the mandatory coffee, handbag and snacks. Getting stuck in a fat man's stile delayed me by five minutes. After that, at every fat man's style I had to remove the rucksack, lob it over, and then sidle through.
It rained alarmingly sporadically, and it was a tad windy at times. Necessitating one pole being shortened and put into a rucksack pocket to recover the umbrella, then swopsies. Bit of a pain to be honest. That said, poles are great for getting uphill, and for providing stability downhill. They are also great for waving at cows who are contemplating eating you for lunch.
I staggered into my destination to be greeted with a cup of tea by the very lovely Tony of BikerWarehouse, who has given Fierce Fanny her heartbeat back, and put a system in to stop any further dramatic electronic failures. Quick turnaround, fair price and a free cuppa - what more can you ask for? Highly recommended - no doubt I'll be using them again!
And I'll definitely be using poles again - they really do help. They are also surprisingly mindful - giving me something to concentrate on as I plod along rather than which tendon is hurting the most, which is usually the thought running around my head. In fact, I may use them to clamber up to bed tonight...