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Inline Skating Newsletter Article

Skating with Nordic Poles

ByLiz Miller

Guest author, triathlete and long-time inline skater Joshua Delucca Colon agreed to share his experience learning to skate with Nordic poles after excitedly watching the winter Olympics cross country events.

I wanted to try an endurance activity that would divert from my usual swimming-, biking- and run-focused triathlon training. I knew cross country skiing was a highly aerobic activity and I wanted to feel it myself.
Nordic skating pole

My new poles are a middle-of-the line Exel Nordic Blader B 3 model. I also bought new Roces S 100 inline skates. Before trying the poles, I devoted several occasions to become fully acquainted to my new skates. My old full-plastic skates were very different from my new ones, especially in braking and boot cushioning. My new Roces S 100 model is half soft and half plastic.  Once I was comfortable on them, I took to the street.

Growing New Nordic Skills - a journal

First day: Flats, rough asphalt - First impression was how easy it was to get going and how stable I felt on irregular surfaces. I Saturday, August 20, 2011 2:47 PMed to place the tips too close to my skate's front end when preparing to thrust back.

After 30 minutes, I became quite used to the basic two-pole arm thrust and felt a nice sweat. At first it was hard to get used to the wrist strap and learning to push with the strap rather than with the grip. Body lean became progressively forward as I learned how to coordinate where to land the pole tips safely in front of my skates. I took several stops for readjusting the straps until comfy.

Second day: Park, smooth concrete and light hills - The tips of the poles work beautifully in asphalt, but definitely not on smooth concrete. I was unable thrust hard at all, slipping back all the time; settled down to just planting the poles and letting a slight amount of thrust propel me forward. I was happy to employ 30 minutes on my skates with the poles. I also began to recognize the help they would give me on the slightest grades by taking away the burden of the power from the legs and sharing it with the upper body. Still had some pole plant issues, but was able to coordinate better than the first day.

Third day: Same park, smooth concrete, moderate grade hill - Before poles, I always struggled on this hill because it was steep enough to make my legs burn near the top. With poles, even when keeping my thrust very slight to avoid slipping, my legs felt a welcome relief and didn't burn. Mmm, interesting. Forty five minutes and several downwind runs later, I started to combine the basic two-arm thrust with an attempt to gain speed by tucking my arms in front while keeping the poles snug and horizontal against my body, tips projecting rearward. I noted that top speed was hard to attain because the arms were tucked in front with the poles and unable to swing freely. Also, I tried a two-arm thrust with skates coasting parallel whenever the concrete had enough traction for the pole tips.

Fourth day: 10 km of bike trails, two lanes, smooth asphalt, several medium hills - Finally I was going to the park I wanted to skate all along! I put my heart rate monitor, aiming to find out how aerobic this activity really was. Even at a moderate effort, my heart rate climbed steadily to a rate similar to running at the same perceived effort, without the pounding. Mmmmm, my feet were in heaven. I was able to use the basic two-arm thrust, adding upper body weight to it, and coast the downhills tucked like the pros. After 10k, my legs throbbed, my face smiled and my arms, core and upper back felt nicely worked. I also established a new personal record for that 10k route.

The Verdict

Four tries skating with the Nordic poles and I was really enjoying myself, getting a great workout, and working both legs and torso. Despite the fact that top speed was not attainable because the lack of arm swing--at least at my current level of practice with the poles--it was a great experience.

Key positives are that for me the increased stability of Nordic poles helps in the uphills wherever the surface has enough traction to use the tips and get the upper body more involved.

Down side is my inability to attain top speed as easy as without them (this may be a technique issue for a neophyte like me) and the slipping of the metal points extending from the poles’ rubber tips when thrusting on smooth surfaces.

Raising Awareness for Skating and MS

JD contacted me again about 3 months after sending me the above journal.

I've continued all my fitness endeavors: mountain biking, ocean kayaking, swimming, running and yes, inline skating-poling. Today I will be the escort for a Multiple Sclerosis patient of mine who's hand cycling a 10k foot race. I'll escort her on inlines and Nordic poles. We've had several training sessions on my favorite, undulating 10k route.

And at press time, JD says:

I have talked some of my triathlete friends into inline skating, and we are planning to be on several local 10ks, starting with one on August 20th, skating to raise awareness of and interest in Multiple Sclerosis. After our persistent presence convinces more people to join us in these events on inline skates, we plan on talking with the organizing committees to open a category for skaters.

JD, Rita and husband   Rita on her handcycle

Left: Rita and her support team, JD and husband, after the Multiple Sclerosis duathelon; right: Rita on her handcycle

Other August 2006 Stories

bulletred picture Inline Mastery Ladder - Find your rung (physical capabilities) on my new learning ladder and learn how to climb to the top.

bulletred picture Technique: Scissors Coast - Proper respect for the one building skill that every skater needs the most and then takes for granted forever after.

bulletred picture Treat Your Feet - Tips to help you treat tired or crampy feet and lower legs after a long day on wheels, plus advice for pain prevention.

bulletred picture Growing Young Before Her Time - Brigitte plans to celebrate her 50th birthday at the local skate park, doing what she loves best, hammering the half pipes.

bulletred picture Point Isabel Trail in Richmond, CA - Tracing the San Francisco Bay shoreline, this bike trail offers views of the Golden Gate Bridge with whirling pelicans and seagulls overhead.

bulletred picture Leader in Learning - Get earns an award of excellence; college text book features Liz Miller’s Inline Skating chapter among 41 others.

bulletred picture Review: eZeefit Ankle booties may just be exactly the accessory you need for your favorite human-powered sports.

bulletred picture Skater Crossing - Online destinations where skaters congregate and find information.

bulletred picture Mini Survey: Non-reversing Skate Wheels - Maybe they aren’t so crazy after all!

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