Sunday, February 15, 2009


Nordic Walking -Training Agenda

Introduction from Malcolm Jarvis, Nordic Walker Leeds, UK
The following article was written by Stacy Meyer Jochem who, amongst other things, currently runs the Employee Health Improvement program for Medical Care Development in Augusta, ME. Stacy also has a passion for Nordic Walking and holds instructor certification through INWA and Nordic Walk Now.

The article first appeared over on the Nordic Walking eCommunity at:

As it is a very informative article, we thought that we would re-produce it here as it will sit well with a suite of “technical articles” planned for the near future. Of course, Stacy has kindly agreed to us doing this. Please note that her original introduction has been modified very slightly in order to allow the material to function as a “stand-alone” article.

Also, it gives those who do not subscribe to the forum an opportunity to read Stacy’s comments and add it to their “fitness file”.

Here is Stacy’s article:

How often can I go Nordic Walking?

When we exercise our muscles breakdown and small amounts of protein in the muscle cells rupture. The more you exercise, the more the muscle is likely to tear. It’s one of the reasons why we become weaker by the end of a vigorous workout.

After any workout muscles need to recover. But if muscles are not given enough time to recover fully before another workout then muscle can progressively become smaller.

As your fitness level increases it’s possible to increase the number of training days in a week and still be able to recover within a day. Most overtraining is due to a combination of excessive volume and intensity. Most exercise programmes include both resistance and cardiovascular exercise. This combination presents a very complex setting from a physiological standpoint. The data available suggests that both components may have to be modified to prevent overtraining.

According to Andrew Fry PhD, most overtraining occurs when either volume or intensity is excessive for too long. It is also important to note that training volume and intensity are inversely related. In other words, when training volume is greatest, intensity must be relatively low, and vice versa.

The defining characteristic of overtraining is an unexplained drop in performance. Some important signs to pay attention to are: exaggerated fatigue, “heavy legs” and changes in mood, sleep and concentration.

John Douillard PhD, author of “Body, Mind and Sport” (Three Rivers Press, 2001), states “The way you’re breathing can indicate how effective your training is. If you’re soaked with sweat and panting for breath every minute of your workout, you’re probably overtaxing your body. Shallow panting can actually make your body more stressed. When you gasp through your mouth, you’re triggering your fight-or-flight stress receptors,” he explains. “When you breathe through your nose, your lungs and ribcage work in a more efficient manner.”

What exactly is overtraining? An expert panel from the US Olympic Committee and the American College of Sports Medicine (ACSM) have answered this question by defining the differences between overload training, overreaching and overtraining.

Overloading is:
Planned pushing of training limits that is necessary to achieve improved performance.

Overreaching is:
Unplanned, excessive overload without adequate rest. This is a short-term problem marked by poor performance in training and competition.

Overtraining is:
Untreated overreaching that results in chronic decreases in performance and an impaired ability to train. This is a long-term problem associated with prolonged overload training without proper recovery time.

Over training occurs when an athlete spends too much time training and not enough time resting and eating the nutrients needed to rebuild muscle tissue that is damaged during intense exercise.

Marathon Training Guidelines

I used the following training formula when I trained to walk a marathon. It is outlined here as a general guide but the full text can be found at:

The “guidelines” are crafted around four specific walking modalities: Easy, Tempo, Maximum-oxygen and Long. Essentially each modality is as follows:-

Easy walks:
Many coaches and exercise physiologists maintain that most walkers should do 80 to 90 percent of their weekly training at an “easy walk” pace.

Tempo walks:
These are described in the guidelines as "hard but controlled" walks, and they suggest they will help you prepare for events of 10,000 metres up to the marathon. They go on to say that “tempo workouts” generally fall into one of two categories: steady walks of 4 to 8 kms; or long “intervals” with short recovery periods. It is recommended that you should do tempo walks no more than once per week.

Maximum-oxygen walks:
It is said that the so called “maximum-oxygen” walks help you improve your walking “economy and racing sharpness”. These workouts are often called "interval training," and are most useful when you are preparing for a race of 5000 metres to half-marathon distance. They offer an example of a typical workout: 6 x 800 metres at maximum-oxygen pace with 1-4 minutes of recovery walking between repeats. You should do maximum-oxygen workouts no more than once a week.

Long walks:
They claim that “long walks”, as defined, are the very foundation of all marathon training programs. So, even if you are not training for an event, it's a good idea to do one semi-long walk each week. Because long walks are done at a relaxed pace, there is a latitude in how fast you actually walk and in general, the guidelines suggest that a slow pace is appropriate.

Putting It All Together:
It is not suggested that you shoe horn all of these modalities into each and every week. Therefore, please take into account the following:

Hard days:
Many authorities recommend that most beginner and intermediate level walkers do no more than two hard days per week. More advanced walkers can attempt three hard days if they're very careful. Each of the following is classified as a “hard day workout” in the guidlines: tempo walks, maximum-oxygen walks, long walks.

Hard days/Easy days:
A hard day workout should usually be followed by one, or preferably, two easy day workouts. Easy days can of course include rest days and cross-training days.

Rest days:
Most beginner and intermediate walkers should aim to walk 4 to 6 days a week. We recommend one or two rest days, when you do no training at all (or just take a relaxed 30-minute walk) and one or two cross-training days.

Cross-training days:
While research indicates that cross-training probably won't make you a faster walker, the guidelines suggest it can make you a stronger and healthier and less injury-prone. They suggest that walkers do best with cross-training exercises that are non-weight-bearing which includes swimming and aqua-walking, strength-training, bicycling and rowing. Non-impact exercises, which include Nordic skiing, elliptical training and step climbing are also considered beneficial.

Article Author: Stacy Meyer Jochem
Currently running the Employee Health Improvement program for medical Care Development in Augusta, ME. Additionally, Stacy is liaison to the Maine Governor’s Council on Physical Activity.

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