I had been nordic walking for 2 decades now at least a couple of times a month, but recently this year I have been doing it 3 to 4 times a week. It makes a gigantesque difference physically and mentally too.
Actually I do not just walk. I focus on technique and on propelling myself froward, but the most important is the strength and conditioning side. I walk around a 500 meter hard packed field, and in each section I focus on one particular exercise. This can be dynamic calf raises, lunges, jump lunges, jump squats, knee raises and heel raises, lower leg plyometrics, bouncing, leaping and hopping and so on.
First of all, it is part of my mileage as it is on foot. Mentally it is very motivating. I am not a crazy volume guy, but volume is extremely important. Of course muscularly it is extremely stimulating, as I might complete a 2h full on nordic walk giving me thousands of reps of exercises increasing range of motion, elasticity, strength, power, stability and so on.
I did not yet do a big long term test on how much of the running could I really replace with NW at what total volume, but I think it could be up to 70% in very high volume training routines and at least 40% of mileage in low volume running routines. This means around NW 140km /R 60km or NW 24km /R 36km . What is the story in case of high performance ? I maintain my idea, but of course some modifications should be added like fast paced distance walks and NW interval training. The thing is that this has been never tested yet like really long term, on how NW can be implemented into a high volume on-the-foot training routine and how it would impact long term development.
What I feel is, that on the way I include it, especially that I practice it straight after races too, my recovery is drastically increased and the loss of fitness in case of non-running volume is basically non-existent. Also I listen to podcasts and talks, so I very much am entertained and no matter how I feel or what the weather’s like, I am not daunted to go out and do a workout. As I said, I am focused and really controlling foot roll and core contraction, the push-on with the arms and shoulders. My ankle mobility is greatly stimulated, when I walk this way and lower leg injuries are very much kept out of bay or recovered from super fast. I recently had a bad low tibial shin splint or anterior tibialis, with slight tightness on the top of the tibia too. It was totally out of the blue. I had a 2 hour very easy trail run with tons of walk breaks Wednesday early morning. 1 hour before Thursday evening’s workout, I started feeling this extreme tightness very suddenly and in an hour it went up to 8,5 / 10 pain on a way that I was even limping. I do not lie, I started treating it immediately using voodoo flossing, deep tissue massage and stretching with full range of motion movements and did this for 2 days like 20 times. Friday morning the day after I did a still painful NW with a very short 8km run in the afternoon. Saturday morning I did NW with still little pain going on. Saturday afternoon I claimed a 25km dynamic trail run in with 0 / 10 pain. I am going out right now too for the Nordic Walk and I have absolutely no pain, no discomfort, no local soreness to touch. It is just to say, that endurance is very important for humans, but cycling or swimming is not that natural and transferable, running is too impactful, however this practice is giving me a lot of stimulations to be a better runner and it seems to be working to the extremes from recovery to performance.