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You are currently viewing 4 Week Training programme for Nordic walking a 10k road race

So you’ve signed up to Nordic walk a 10k road race and it’s now only a month away.  Training has been patchy at best and you need a plan.  Don’t worry – help is at hand! Here is your complete training programme for Nordic walking a 10k road race.  It covers technique tips and includes a four week training schedule.  If you’re planning to walk the Bristol 10k with us on May 31st this could be handy!

Nordic walking technique tips for road races

1.  Wear running trainers not walking shoes. 

Running trainers are designed to absorb the impact of the hard pavement surface in a way that walking shoes are not.  Choosing footwear that is highly cushioned will minimise the jarring (and therefore fatigue) on your body.  They are also more pliable, which is a big help when it comes to the heel/toe roll (see below).  If you do not wear the correct trainers you could end up with shin splints or, worse, planter fasciitis.

2.  Make sure your paws are down, covering the tips 

Two reasons:

  • Health and safety – there will be lots of other people around, especially at the start, and you do not want to be spiking them (or yourself) with uncovered tips!
  • Noise – uncovered tips can be unpleasantly noisy on tarmac, particularly if you don’t plant cleanly.

3.  Keep checking your posture, especially keep shoulders down and relaxed

I can’t emphasise this enough.  Without good posture your technique will suffer and your body will take a pounding.  There are some handy tips on posture in my Speed Nordic Walking blog.

4.  Plant poles further in front, more upright and push down hard!

With paws down, your poles will slide if you have them angled too far backwards or don’t push down into the ground with enough force.  So plant them further in front, keep them a little more upright (but still angled backwards so that they propel you forwards) and treat road walking as a great core workout by pushing down hard into the tarmac.  This stops them sliding.  Careful your shoulders don’t come up though – it’s your triceps (backs of your arms) that should be taking the strain.

5.  Use your feet as accelerators

Focus on really rolling through your foot, from your heel to toe, pushing off hard with your toes. The more pliable your footwear is the easier this will be. A couple of tips (relevant for Nordic walking on all surfaces):

  • Push off evenly from all your toes, not just your big toe.  I find it helps to concentrate on my middle toe.
  • It’s the muscles in the back of your leg that are you key ‘powering’ muscles.  So your glutes (bottom), hamstrings and calf muscles.
  • If you lean forwards (from your ankles not your hips) you increase your forward momentum.  Don’t forget to keep your chest open though – you want to max your oxygen uptake!

6.  Push through your arm swing fast but not past your hips

Use your arms as accelerators too by pushing through your arm swing as fast as you can.  Unfortunately on hard surfaces with the tips down you can’t really extend your arm swing behind you.  The pole just slides away.  It might be a tad dangerous anyway if there are lots of people around you! So don’t push too far back (I stop around my hips).   A disappointing consequence is that you can’t rotate as fully – but it’s still possible to rotate a small amount.  Try it and see.


4 Week training schedule

Four weeks is not much time to prepare for a 10k.  However, it’s all you’ve got right now so here is a training schedule for you to follow.  Ideally you want to finish a 10k feeling energised not exhausted.  To do this with only 4 weeks training you must be prepared to walk 3-4 times a week plus build in a couple of short pace walks.  Most of you at Bristol Nordic Walking walk twice a week already with our regular walks – so you are more than half way there!


Regular Nordic walking classes (flat or hills)

Pace walk

Stamina walk


2 or more

2 x 10 mins

50 mins


2 or more

1 x 10 mins

1 x 15 mins

1 hour


2 or more

1 x 15 mins

1 x 20 mins

1 – 1.5 hours


(Race week)

Try and get a 20 min pace walk and a 1.5 hour stamina walk in at the beginning of the week.  Your training should then be light.  Maybe one regular class (flat not hills).  Don’t do any serious walking (Nordic or otherwise) for a couple of days before race day.  You want your legs to rest and re-charge, ready to power you away from that start line!


What are pace and stamina walks and why should I do them?

  • A pace walk is where you to walk as fast as you can for a short length of time without compromising your technique.  It will help you increase your speed.
  • A stamina walk is where you walk at a steady pace for longer.  This will improve your endurance.

Together they mean that you will be able to walk a longer distance at a faster pace and still feel good at the end.  You can combine the two and insert a pace walking interval into your stamina walk.  However, this extends the workout and makes it a lot harder. I would not recommend that you do this unless you are already reasonably fit with a good Nordic walking technique.

Does all my training need to be Nordic walking or can some of it be ordinary walking?

Ideally the majority of your training walks will be Nordic walking.  You want to consolidate your road race technique as well as improve your strength and stamina.  However, sometimes it is useful to walk without the poles.  You can then concentrate on other parts of the technique such as your foot accelerators (see above) and posture. 

Should I be training on pavements/hard surfaces?

Even though you are entering a road race you do not have to do all your training on hard surfaces.  Quite the reverse.  It’s kinder on your body if you don’t.  Try and build in at least one pavement session a week so that you can practice the road race technique.  This could be your pace walk.  A good place to practice would be on the pavements and paths around the Downs as, like the Bristol 10k, it’s flat.  Ashton Court also has some good stretches of tarmac but it is much hillier.

What about stretches and nutrition?

I could write a whole separate blog about stretches and nutrition (and maybe I will).  For now, remember always to stretch after a training walk.  Use the stretches that we do after our regular classes.  Nutrition-wise, be sensible.  Steer clear of alcohol, at least for the few days leading up to the 10k.  Runners tend to eat more complex carbohydrates than protein and fat before competing but you will know what suits your body best.  Don’t forget to eat a good meal the night before – but not one that is likely to cause an unwanted bathroom break during the race.

On that note, I shall finish!  Good luck and have fun.