How to perform well in Nordic walking?

Walking quickly over a long period of time without making mistakes is not as easy as you think. Competitive Nordic walking takes practice. You become a Nordic walker by working on your technique, doing special training sessions to improve your physical abilities as well as benefit from the guidance of a coach and the team spirit of a club. We asked the members of the Fontainebleau Nordic walking club about performance. And we did well.


When racing, the walking motion with the poles is judged by referees who enforce the regulations of the sport. This can lead to penalties if the technique is incorrect and/or irregular. The penalty involves walking around a 200-metre circuit before rejoining the normal route. Hard to take.


Marc Thoraval, the club coach, emphasises the importance of good technique:

"We work a lot on technique at an intermediate and fast pace so that, during the race with the fatigue, the technique does not deteriorate too much leading to penalties which often have significant consequences on the race time. "


2/ Being coached

Half way between walking and cross-country skiing, Nordic walking is a technically, physically and psychologically demanding discipline – #completesport.In order to develop these three aspects and improve your performance, the help of a coach is invaluable. Why?


First of all, a second opinion on technique is needed to be more precise, because inevitably, "what you think you are doing is not necessarily what you are actually doing," underlines Marc Thoraval. Secondly, the physical aspect is developed with specific training programmes that are specially adapted to each person's objectives.

Thirdly, the coach takes into account the personal and professional aspects in order to give the walker the best possible support on a daily basis and during races.

3/ Creating variety during training

At Fontainebleau, we focus on other sports disciplines to perfect the capacities of each person. Marc Thoraval suggests "mountain biking, running, occasional cross country skiing or a combined sport like biathlon by mixing Nordic walking with blowgun shooting or running with a laser rifle shooting, for example. This creates variety and reduces the monotony of training while exercising your endurance. "

Apolline Mazureck, runner-up of the French Nordic Walking Championships, also sees the benefit of freeing up time from the specific demands of Nordic walking:

"Combining your discipline with other sports helps to be more relaxed, forget the technical and physical constraints of Nordic walking for a moment and return to it with greater motivation. This is a great way of improving your performance! »



4/ Training hard

The truth is not always convenient: You will not achieve good times without rigorous training...

"In order to perform well, it is going to hurt," says Apolline Mazureck. It is during the times when your training hurts that you are overcoming obstacles. And it is rewarding. During the last French Championships, I considerably improved my speed when I thought that I was not going any quicker! "

It's the same for everyone. Whatever your level of ability, if you want to improve your performance, you must work on your pace, increase your training time and your intensity. There is no doubt: interval training sessions of 10 x 250 m or 5 x 1000 m at a high intensity will enable to you to move up a level!"No pain, no gain," as we say…

5/ Feeling good in the club

One must not forget the effect of the group on one's individual performance. Being part of a united group that provides encouragement and support contributes a lot to one's personal motivation!

"Sharing, cohesion and mutual assistance during training, are essential," emphasises Marc Thoraval. During tough sessions involving interval training, for example, the group dimension of the training session helps you to endure the pain more easily! In competition, like many sports, the cohesion within the club will also be very important. We help each other, we motivate each other, we encourage each other. This is a key driver for improving performance. »



6/ Competing with others

Competing with others is not necessarily a ruthless struggle where deception and foul play are widespread! Let's maintain a spirit of fair play. In a club or jovial walking group, you are naturally aware of the positive emulation that drives each of its members to surpass and improve themselves through a healthy competitive attitude with their partners.

Marc Thoraval notices this in his club: "Apolline and Jean-Michel (Wlodyka) [champion of Île-de-France] are the driving forces behind the training sessions. They give their partners a boost by motivating them through their performance. Regardless of your level of ability, when you train or compete with athletes or people with a higher level of ability, it encourages you to improve. It's the same for everyone! "

7/ Know how to recover

The secret of a good performance is not to be found in endlessly competing in races. On the contrary, by prioritising progressive training cycles up to the date of the race and then allowing sufficient time to recover , you will avoid the excessive training and injuries that this entails.

Marc Thoraval points out the following: "In athletics, there is a saying that goes "recovery is part of training". So after a race, you will continue Nordic walking or other sports at a low intensity without timing yourself and making sure you enjoy practising your sport gently! "