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Life Chez Dee Episode #9: Poles and pain

So I’ve now been for my second session of Nordic walking training with Bartek. Apparently I’m a good student, and he’s fast tracking my training.

I was unsure how it would be this time, as I’ve been suffering with aching limbs since my first session … my first double session I should say. I started to seize up as I wrote my first blog about this: “Walking with Poles”, and the pain got steadily worse that day, and the following day. It got to the point the day after that I was really struggling to walk; I was even in agony driving the car … moving my foot on the clutch pedal!! For those of you who are at this point saying, what’s the fuss about its “just walking” … let me tell you that it’s not just walking … it soooooo much more. And it doesn’t help that I’ve not done any exercise for years either!!

It’s raining this morning … rather different from my first session in the blistering heat. I don my raincoat, and a cap (since I realise that my hair is posing a problem when the wind blows it in my face, and I can’t brush it away as I have poles attached to my hands). I meet Bartek just outside the café at Lytham Hall, just as the sun puts in an appearance.

I tell Bartek about my pain … I know it’s good pain … the sort that’s doing me good. I can at least walk properly today, so I push through the ache and get going again. We learn to focus on posture, on our stride, our pace, we slow the walk down to focus on getting the technique right. Slowing the pace, and focussing on the technique is tiring. My arms are tired, my legs are tired … don’t forget though I’m still sore from the other day.

When the technique is right it feels good … and it’s pretty pacy too. Getting the technique right makes you work really hard, and much harder than regular walking. Using the bungy poles (the ones with suspension) make you work even harder. Bartek corrects my technique, corrects my posture, notices straight away when I’m thinking too much and I have to be distracted in conversation.

I talk about the drama of last night. About Justin falling off his bike and how we were up at A&E last night. Justin had set off out of the gate at work; standing to push down with full force on one bike pedal, and the chain snaps, lurching him over the handlebars to crashland on his shoulder. Nothing is broken thankfully, but he’s very battered, bruised and swollen.

So we’re both hobbling round in pain – what a pair we are!!

Bartek watches me constantly. Guiding, advising, distracting. We practice just getting our feet right. We practice getting our arms right. And when I get them both right together, Bartek stops me from doing any more! And we have to focus on the next challenge. ProX bands I think they're called, which have 1 kilo of resistance. They’re fixed round the waist, and it is just regular walking (swinging the arms fully though) with resistance bands. They feel light. So much easier on the arms than the poles. Feels easy …. but perhaps not that easy to use for an hour. We’ll see, no doubt Bartek has a walk planned for me when I’ll be using these for an hour?? I’m more upright, less tense in the shoulders.

We walk back to meet the people who have turned up to come on the wellness walk at 10am. And there’s cake. Really lovely, sticky flapjack, home made by Phil. What a lovely surprise that was. We set off on the walk, my second hour of walking today.

Time to peel off the layers as I’m now generating quite a lot of heat. All is going well … although if I’m honest I don’t know if I’m as keen on walking round Lytham Hall. The paths are cramped, sticks clashing, unable to walk past anyone, walking at the pace dictated by the others, rather than yourself. It’s so much nicer when we get to the places where it opens up and I experience that sense of space and freedom of being able to find, and go with my own natural pace.

And when that freedom comes it’s liberating. Being outdoors, walking, breathing, out in the fresh air, thinking, not thinking, having switch off time … me time … has been lovely. Having the physical and mental space, is good for me. There’s a lot to take in, and a lot to learn, but this is why I need Bartek so I can learn, without overthinking it all. But although I’m feel like I’ve got loads to process, I’ve also felt like I’ve had that time to recharge and re-energise.

By the end of this second session I’m feeling it. My legs and arms are tired, my technique is slipping, my head is down. Bartek comes to speak to me – we talk about how being tired can make the technique slip somewhat and how I may have been better on this second session with rigid poles rather than bungy poles, as they would have helped to lift my head and improve my posture.

Listen to me, I’m sounding like I’m talking like I know all about it now. But I’m really interested in it. I’m really thinking about what I’m doing. All the different resistance bands, bungy poles, rigid poles … all have their use … all have their pros, and their cons. I’m learning so much each lesson, about myself, about my abilities, my perception, my learning. I’m really, really pleased that I met Bartek and Ewa, and am so pleased I decided to try Nordic Walking. I can’t wait until the next session; I wonder what I will learn next, and what more I’ll discover about myself. But for now feet up and milky tea until the ache wanes again.

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