Tag: ski pole training

Nordic Walking Training

Nordic walking training might seem to be simply walking with trekking poles. It’s much more complicated than that though. When I was in Russia for Elbrus Race 2013 I had the opportunity to spend a few days with the women members of a Russian Nordic Walking group that stayed with us and did some training at altitude on the slopes of Elbrus. I enjoyed watching their morning stretching routine and certain aspects of that portion of Nordic walking training made its way into my recent book Summit Success: Training for Hiking, Mountaineering, and Peak Bagging. CLICK HERE

Nordic walking training dynamic stretching move
Nordic walking training dynamic stretching move

If you cringe whenever you see someone ambling, shuffling slowly, poking forward with their poles, and their straps on wrong, you’re a Nordic walker.

The point of this 16 week program is vertical training, and is well suited as Nordic walking training. Many of the photos in the book feature trekking poles as part of the exercises. I think that by bringing up your vertical and horizontal speed and endurance you can achieve greater things in your sports goals. Most of my speed ascents are done with poles and I suggest training outside with poles at every opportunity.

Tips: Some things to keep in mind include rhythm and placement. If you can coordinate your arm and leg rhythms you’ll become much more efficient. I’ve found that if you are moving on steep terrain with shorter leg motions you can use shorter faster pole placements. If you’re using longer steps you can alternate pole placements in patterns of two or three steps each and reach further forward. If you’re moving very quickly you might want to actually place the tips of the poles near the outside edge of your foot with the pole angled toward the rear as you pass quickly.

Nordic walking training on the slopes of Elbrus in Russia - 2013
Nordic walking training on the slopes of Elbrus in Russia – 2013

I think a good Nordic walking training program also includes a bit of strength endurance for the upper body, particularly the lats, shoulders, and chest. These muscles work together to provide strong and fluid pole placements essential for Nordic walking efficiency.

Nordic Walking Training Video Example Close Pole

In this example I’m running at about 9:00 pace (nine minute mile) on snowshoes, and due to the speed and short steps I’m using the close pole technique. Notice that I don’t really reach forward much but push to the rear in short powerful strokes. I experimented with this technique after watching Nordic skiers in the last Olympics.

If you’d like to see the best Nordic walking training for vertical and horizontal goals (vertical feet gained and miles) check out my book on Amazon, both Kindle and Paperback. Eligible for Prime and Kindle Unlimited.

CLICK HERE FOR NORDIC WALKING TRAINING

Trail Running in Winter at Keystone

Trail running in the winter can be exhilarating and quite an adventure. It’s one of my favorite activities. I love to run in the Winter in Keystone Colorado at 9300′ or more in elevation. One of my favorite trails to run on is the Keystone Gulch Road. This is the access for snowcats and snowmobiles to the back lifts of Keystone Resort. Normally the road is packed down by the constant daily snowmobile traffic, so it’s easy enough to run in spiked shoes. I had done Gray’s Peak with a friend on Saturday December 29 on a very cold day. My Polar Graph showed that I should have about five days of rest. Today, January 1 was a whole new year, right? I decided a mild bout of winter trail running should be fine.

Trail Running in Winter clothing and gear
Trail Running Winter Clothes and Gear

Trail running this winter morning would be probably the coldest I’ve done. When I started it was zero degrees Fahrenheit out. That’s cold. I’ve run at 5 degrees before. I’ve done the 14ers at below zero. Then you’re moving a lot slower and can wear and carry more emergency gear. I decided on my new Sporthill pants, which did pretty good at 5 degrees the other day. I decided against base layers. I wore a Patagonia fleece hoodie as my next-to-skin layer. Experimenting. I wore a thin waffled fleece over that, then a thin wind shell with breathable panels. I wore my classic favorite TNF running beanie on my head. I’ve grown to like my Injinji liners and Smartwool Men’s PhD Mountaineer Crewsocks as cold weather running footwear. For my hands I decided to experiment with my Burton touch-screen liners under my REI Winter Biking Lobster gloves.

Trail Running on Keystone Gulch Road

Trail Running in the Cold behind Keystone Resort
Trail Running in the Cold behind Keystone Resort

I started my HRM/GPS watch in a parking lot near the entrance to Keystone Gulch Road. The road can be pretty bumpy and has space for only a few cars. Warning: park at your own risk wherever you decide to park since most of this is resort property. I walked quickly up the road swinging my trekking poles, Black Diamond Compactor Ski Poles. Today my goal is to run/walk intervals working on improving my turnover rate (foot strike speed) by making smaller faster steps. I also am going to work on syncing my pole swing with my steps to increase the number of steps per pole swing.

At the gate, just up the road a short bit, I tapped my lap counter and took off running slowly uphill. I worked my way up the Gulch Road with what I interpreted as fairly even run/walk intervals. After a while I decided to do some trail running hill repeats on a particularly pleasant grade. Usually you run up and walk down, or walk up and run down, depending on your training goals. Today I’m running down, quick turnaround then up. I paused at the top for a minute to catch my breath, then repeated it.

Trail Running Hill Repeats in Winter with Poles: Video

When I was done I gathered up my camera and took off trail running in the snow uphill again. The sun was pretty, and the wind was light. Bright flashing crystals of snow blew off the pine trees. I kept up the run/walk intervals for about an hour of total time.

Trail running in winter along the Keystone Resort back side
Making snow at Keystone Resort on North Peak

I had hoped to get to the base of North Peak, near the LaBonte’s Cabin area. I’ve been there a few times for trail running on this road. It’s about three miles from the gate. Today my face was getting really cold and I decided three miles from the parking lot was a good enough turnaround point. I was using my backpack for training and to carry water. I was using my Flexline Hydration system with a Platypus Bladder inside the insulated sleeve of my Marmot Kompressor backpack. I also have my GoLite Bitterroot down jacket for just in case. Smart when it’s at zero degrees.

winter trail running on the snowcat tracks at keystone
View looking down on myself and the snowcat tracks I ran on

On the way downhill I worked to stay around an 11:00 minute mile pace. The footing was rough, between the tracks of a snowcat and multiple snowmobiles passing up and down the road all day. It varied with ice chunks, chopped snow, ice sheets, and narrow gullies between the paths. I can sustain an 8:20 pace on nice dirt trails, but chunky snow is totally a different trail running surface. I had to take a couple of walking intervals but tried to keep them short, drinking from the Flexline tube at each one to stay hydrated. Since the whole run would be less than two hours it wasn’t worth eating. YMMV. Remember that one key to success in using a bladder system at this cold a temperature is to totally blow all the water out of your tube between each drinking session. Short frequent drinks are better than longer drinks at longer intervals. If ice does start to build up you will suck it out of the tube more often and keep it clear with more frequent drinking.

One of my favorite trail running roads at Keystone Resort
Looking down the road at Keystone Gulch behind Keystone Resort

As I got further and further along I had to take more frequent and longer walking breaks. I finally got to the gate and hit my lap counter again to mark it. I ran quite fast down the road, crossing the street carefully, then walked to cool down to the parking lot. My face felt pretty windburned, and when I got home my nose hurt quite a bit when it thawed out. I recommend sealing your nostril skin surface with chapstick when you go out in this level of cold. I will do that next time for sure.

Winter Trail Running: My Stats

I checked the stats on my Polar RS800CX and found that I had spaced out my intervals pretty decently. I had maintained a good pace, especially on the way downhill. I also looked at my heart rate zones and found a good spread, pretty full in the upper middle, where I want it right now. It was a good way to train my last day in Colorado for this trip.

trail running polar graph with elevation, heart rate, and pace
My Polar Graph with elevation, heart rate, and pace from my trail running adventure

If you decide to try trail running in the Winter, I highly recommend you break into it slowly. If you’ve never run outside before, or on uneven surfaces, it might not be a good idea. It’s going to be cold, and if it’s windy, miserable for most people. Wear the appropriate clothing, and try to avoid sweating if you can. It’s best to be slightly cool rather than slightly hot.

Winter Trail Running heart rate distribution graph courtesy of Polar
Polar heart rate zone distribution for this winter trail running adventure

Above all, stay safe, stay warm, and remember that trail running below freezing can be fun 🙂

Glute and Hamstring Training – Warmup

Recently on my Facebook page I linked to an article about Posterior Chain training. That’s a fancy phrase that powerlifters use to describe the lower back, glutes, and hamstrings. These are basically the “pulling” muscles if you lay flat on the floor on your front and pull your knees off the ground and up behind you.

I mentioned that I normally trained these muscles hard, as they were majorly involved in mountaineering. Ryan of Climbingreport.com asked me for my opinions about why it was important, and while I gave a short answer on Facebook, I have a little more here.

Ryan from Climbingreport.com postholing in bottomless slush
Postholing requires strong balanced leg muscles. [Ryan from Climbingreport.com]

When walking uphill you normally place your foot out in front of you, then pull yourself over it. That’s the posterior chain working. When climbing vertical, either rock or ice, you place your foot higher, but generally under your body, then use mostly your quads to lift your body up over your foot. As your quads become more tired, you’ll have a tendency to stick your butt out some then pull it into the crag. That’s to roll off some of the work to your glutes and hamstrings. Of course that’s an over-simplification, but you get the drift. Another consideration is the agonist/antagonist balance. If your quads are too big for your hamstrings, you’ll be more likely to have injuries and pain, and they’ll most likely be manifest in your knees or hips – where the muscles from both groups attach. Most people like training their quads more than their hamstrings from my experience.

I made a couple videos of my Posterior Chain Warmups:

In this first video, I’m using a Back Hyper Extension bench. I keep my back fairly still, while hinging at the hips and as I hit the bottom and top, my hamstrings flex a bit. Since there isn’t much angle at the knees it’s an interesting difference, contracting a fully extended muscle. If you do this and don’t feel your hams and glutes firing at all, go slower and consciously squeeze your glutes at the top, and try to feel that squeeze all the way to your knees. If you look at the video as I come to the top, you’ll see my hamstrings flex some.

I usually do sets of 25 for this, since it’s really easy. YMMV.

In this second video, I’m doing one of those classic “not as intended” movements. The Glute Ham Raise bench is a powerlifting classic, and hard to find at most facilities except maybe some basement gyms. I can’t really see you getting away with taking ski poles into Gold’s or 24 hour, but this is just an idea. You can totally make do with the knee pads on a lat tower and a cardio step held out in front of you. Be creative. I am doing this move with the poles way out in front, similar to a core training move called a fallout (if done with straps) or rollout (if done with an ab wheel). I’m not putting a lot of weight on them, using them mostly for balance, and to give a little boost if I get tired so I don’t fall forward and snap my legs off at the knees.

I ride the poles out as far as I can go feeling sure I can get back up, then bring my butt back to over my heels, then do it again. The majority of the stress with this is at the fully extended position, and a little pause there is good. I normally do sets between 10 and 25 depending on what my training goals are for the day. If I’m doing 25 I don’t hang out to the front for as long a period, and use a little momentum to start my ride back. With sets of 10 I hang out there quite a while, and use a lot more hamstring to pull my butt back.

While I call these warmups, for some people just starting out who’ve never done serious hamstring or glute training, these might be a dang tough workout all on their own, so go slow, be careful, and be safe. Remember that anything you do is better than nothing you do.

Ultimate Upper Body Cardio Training

Concept2 SkiErg Training

The moment I saw a clip of this in action, I knew this would be the most awesome training for low-angle ice, or glacier climbing ever. I think it was originally intended for cross country ski training, and having done some XC skiing way back in the day, I can see the benefit already. I am using poles for a lot of my vertical hiking – another perfect training application.

I ordered the wall-mount model direct from Concept2, and got the PM4 monitor (the higher end of the two monitors available). It took about a week to arrive. After hauling it down to my basement, it really took only a couple hours to assemble and install. Note that I do have exposed studs and no baseboard molding which might have helped it go faster. Also, advice to anyone else doing this – don’t tighten any screws on the sleeve in the middle of the main column until all the screws are started.

I decided to give it a few minutes spin to figure it out and see what I could do. The motion was simple enough, and after messing around I figured out various ways to stand for core activation, and balance and stability training. I’ve been training with it now for a little over a week, including the past 6 days after cracking 2 ribs. Yeah, I probably shouldn’t be doing this, but I can stabilize my core and relax it, using just my upper lats. I wish I could go now, but it will be a few weeks before I can try ice climbing again (4-6 weeks recovery for my ribs) to see if it helps. I’ll let you know.

After this I also did an experiment to extend my range of motion and then do a concentrated squeeze in my central back between my shoulder blades (rhomboid area). This short clip shows that.