Trying new things changes your perspective. What you did previously, how you did it, and how it made you feel, change. My perspective on walking changed today as I experimented with walking poles.
My husband felt that I would build more endurance and upper body strength if I challenged myself to walk differently. Hence, one of his Christmas presents to me was a set of walking/trekking poles. They are a pretty yellow colour. Several easy adjustments customize the poles for height and leg length. The straps also adjust to accommodate a soft, yet firm grip on the handles.
I had longed for a set of walking poles but never bought them for myself. When I opened the gift, I admired the poles but I’m embarrassed to say that I didn’t use these poles until today.
The weather changed in the past few days and most of the abundant snow we had in the southwest of Ontario is gone. The paths and roads in and around our cottage are clear of ice. I had no excuse for not trying the walking poles while doing my usual hiking route.
The first step was to adjust the shaft and the straps. As a former cross-country skier, getting the right strap adjustment and hand placement was simple. Putting together the 3 parts of the shaft required more thought as did measuring for the recommended 90 degree elbow position.
I started on a straight, flat stretch. How interesting that, after walking about ½ a kilometre, all the tiny muscles in my rib cage and abdomen began to engage differently. I could feel seldom–used muscles as I moved the poles in rhythm with my legs.
I also noticed a quicker breath signalling that I was working harder than usual. I knew that I was walking faster, taking longer strides, and making a conscious effort to keep the poles moving correctly.
Next, came a test on the sand dunes along the beach. None of the dunes are huge but they do require leg exertion when climbing up and good control when descending.
I quickly discovered that I should have attached baskets to the tips as the poles sank deeply into the sand. Nonetheless, when climbing, my arms were able to assist my legs with a pushing action. On the descent, the poles provided stability and helped with balance.
The ice cap on Lake Huron is still frozen so I ventured out — but not too far in case I encountered a soft spot in the ice. The poles helped with gripping on the rough, icy, snow-covered lake surface. The uneven surface was a challenge. However, the support of the poles gave more stability — and confidence on the ice.
When I got back to the cottage, my body felt like I’d had a workout. It wasn’t overly strenuous, but more of a workout than if I had walked the usual route. The exercise, the fresh air, and the exhilaration of trying something new brought a silly smile to my face that stayed there all day!