All posts by Claire Walter

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving

And that means food, food and more food. It’s almost 70 degrees in Boulder, CO, right now, so before I buckle down to start food preparations, I’m going for a walk to pre-emptively mitigate the damage that dinner will do.

About.com has a neat calorie calculator to measure calories expended during a non-Nordic Walk. Enter your weight, distance and time, and it will figure the calories you burn. Then do a little more math, by upping that total by as much as 40 percent to factor in the calorie-burning bonus that Nordic Walking provies. I’ve also seen it rounded off to 400 calories per hour for Nordic Walking compared with 280 for “regular” walking. Either way, you’ll get a sense of how much how much credit or debit you’ll have going to the table tomorrow. I’m going to do that — and I’ll try not to taste too much while I’m cooking.

Picturing Palm Trees

If winter has set in where you are, this might seem like fantasy island. I have no idea where this might be. It looks like ship port, or perhaps an airport, or…. can you identify the place?

I know it’s not where I live, which is Colorado’s Front Range, just slightly higher in elevation than Denver. But it’s a Nordic Walking fantasy that I don’t need to indulge in right now. With the exception of one snowfall last month at this elevation, it’s still shirtsleeve warm during the day –perfect Nordic Walking weather. But the mountains are blanketed with snow, early-season conditions are great, and it’s only a matter of time before we see snow here too. I love the snow and the cold (and the fact that my poles have snap-on baskets for snowshoeing) and perhaps you do too. Or perhaps you’re in a part of the contintinent where winter has settled in or where the rain has been relentless. If you need a little light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel spirit-lifter, take a look at this Exel photo (used here with permission) at a quartet of Nordic Walkers striding among the palms.

Boulder Poised to Discover Nordic Walking

I live in Boulder, Colorado, renowned as one of America’s fittest cities. It steadily leads various lists of the best cities for runners, cyclists, rock climbers, and so on. The city operates three enormous recreation centers, the University of Colorado has its own, and the phone book lists nearly two dozen private fitness centers, enterprises gyms and studios — not from A to Z, but from A (Alchemy of Movement) to W (The Workout Studio). Boulderites are active year-round, indoors and outdoors. Miles of paved recreation trails throughout the city and unpaved trails administered by the Boulder Mountain Parks & Open Space Department invite Nordic Walkers.
The Boulder Daily Camera’s recent article about ex-Olympian Annette Tennander Bank and her Nordic Walking training programs point to its impending growth spurt. She is a certified trainer and is a big-time Nordic Walking enthusiast with almost evangelistic fervor for spreading the word about the sport.

First Steps with Nordic Walking Poles


I first heard about Nordic Walking in 2004 in Mürren, Switzerland, where Nordic Walking was coaching was available. I’d been hiking with trekking poles for a while, but I wasn’t sure why Nordic Walking was different. With my trekking poles and a small pack, I went on a two-night hike deep into the mountains and stayed in rustic mountain huts. When I returned to the comfortable hotel in Mürren, I listened to a group of newly minted Nordic Walking enthusiasts. They had been Nordic Walking near Mürren while I and others hiked. They praised the great workout, and that sounding enticing. However, that visit was coming to an end, was too late for me to try. I was leaving the mountains early the next morning to catch a train.

Nordic Walking stuck in my mind, however, and just this past summer, I was able to sample it at Colorado’s Devil’s Thumb Ranch. The photo above shows Lang Hedman, Devil’s Thumb’s hiking guide and Nordic Walking instructor, and Holly Johnson of Sarasota, FL, powering across a meadow with Nordic Walking poles, moving quickly along an old ranch road. I was captivated enough to write a feature story about Nordic Walking for my local newspaper.

I was also sufficiently to captivated loom into Nordic Walking online and to think about drafting a book proposal based on my initial research. I see Nordic Walking as an activity that’s perfect for the 21st century. It appeals to baby boomers, whose knees are shot from too much running but still are geared to a high level of aerobic fitness. Many of their contemporaries and even younger people are often overweight and out of shape, but they’ve gotten the word that they need a change in lifestyle. Older people trying to stave off infirmity understand the use-it-or-lose-it principle. Nordic Walking is a low-impact, do-anywhere activity that is fun to do and has numerous health benefits — as I noted, perfect for all of those populations in our time.

Fast forward to November 2006, and with the ink still wet on my contract to write a Nordic Walking book, I attended a Nordic Walking workshop at Fleet Feet, a local running store. Seventy or 80 fitness walkers and runners jammed into the small store, eager to hear about Nordic Walking from Annette Tennander Bank, former Olympian and personal trainer, and Mark Muggleton, five-time NCAA All-American in Track and Field and a member of the U.S. International Cross Country Team. Annette and Mark demonstrated the rudiments of Nordic Walking technique — very simple, really — and took people out into the parking lot and a nearby hill. Everyone got it! Fleet Feet had not yet received its order of Nordic Walking poles, but after people tried the poles that Annette and Mark brought with them (and got tips on how to use them), many put in special orders on the spot.

I’ll add posts to this blog as the research for my book progresses, and I’d like to hear from you as well.