Sam Taylor's SofaDODGER Olympic Challenge - Nordic Walking
Number 1 @SofaDodgerUK
So finally the day has come; when the talking and typing must stop and I have to actually get off my sofa and start my challenge. After a few ill-advised glasses of wine the night before, I sacrifice an hour of my sacred Saturday morning lie in and drive 45 minutes down to Tresillick Gardens.
I have experience of the benefits of walking - not for myself but my partner Paul, who gets up at 6am and walks with his mate Mat for an hour every morning. He has never been particularly big, as he is one of those irritating people who can eat mostly what they like without putting on weight. If I ate what he ate, I would be 10 times the size. Anyway, after 18 months of walking, he has lost loads of weight and has never been in better shape. He scoffed at the idea of using “sticks” while walking and it does seem fairly alien to use an aid for doing something which is natural to most people. Hopefully, I’ll soon find out why they’re needed.
I arrive on time and introduce myself to the group of people taking a Beginners Workshop with Walk Kernow. Having the list of my sports on my back really helps explain my challenge, but I start thinking I should have printed it on my front, as I end up having conversations with people reading behind me.
We start with a short introduction of the benefits of Nordic walking, a warm-up and a quick introduction to each other and why we were looking to take up Nordic Walking. A number of people cited the need “to be able to eat cake” whilst not piling on the pounds but generally it was for the health benefits and the motivational aspect of exercising with a group.
Walking in a certain way is easy; adding poles and thinking about walking in another way is tricky. We practise up and down a few times. My main concerns are not tripping over my pole or stabbing any of the curious dogs who were bounding over. Turns out walking up a hill is much easier with poles, as it helps with your posture and is particularly good if you suffer from a sore lower back. Kelly tells us that Nordic walking burns 46% morecalories than walking itself. The cake eaters among us lap that bit of information up as we look around smugly at the dog walkers, who are poleless and obviously not in the know.
Having mastered our basic techniques, we set off for a woodland walk. The scenery around this National Trust estate is absolutely stunning and as I walk through the bluebells, with the coast on the other side, I wonder if I would find my 99 other activities as enjoyable. Walking is great for allowing chatting as well, and I met some really interesting people. The chats were interspersed with further instruction and techniques to conquer pesky obstacles such as stairs and hills. We got the techniques really quickly - until Kelly came over to check on us. Somehow, you’d then immediately forget what you’d been doing for the past hour and completely mess it up!
By the finish of the walk, we had covered 4 miles with several stops. I could feel my arms aching. Kelly assured us we would wake up and "gently ache" all over. Although this is only my first activity and I’m planning to try all types of activities, I can definitely see me taking up Nordic Walking after my challenge. It is lower intensity than running but apparently, mile for mile; you can burn as many calories as a runner. Yes, it will take longer to get somewhere but it’s gentler on the joints. It’s also very social, as you get to walk a couple of times a week with a group of people.
After a warm down, I wave goodbye to everybody, who all wish me luck with my challenge, and head for a slice of guilt-free cake in the cafe. So, one down and 99 to go!
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