Rhythm and pace

Inexperienced walkers and skiers may have trouble establishing a rhythm. The leader must attempt to provide for this in planning to allow time for learning, particularly for skiing, where technique may take considerable time to develop. Selecting routes that avoid rugged terrain will facilitate the learning process.

Skilled travellers can establish a rhythm at a variety of speeds. The underlying consideration for the leader is to ensure that the pace is comfortable for the slowest member of the group. Putting slower individuals at the front is a useful ploy used to regulate the pace of the group so that it remains in the comfort zone for everybody. Giving slower individuals leadership or navigational roles which place them at the front of the group is a positive way to control the pace. Slow the faster members down by involving them in conversation or placing them at the rear as a ‘whip’. In all but a few situations it is preferable to keep the group together.

With an increase in pace there could be a tendency for movements to become jerkier or less smooth. The loss of control will lead to a greater expenditure of energy. When walking, any over striding, using jerky movements and jarring of the body (particularly on downhill sections) will waste a lot of energy. A similar loss of control when skiing may contribute to a loss of balance and falls. The impact of the fall and getting up afterwards requires considerable energy. Although the effect of such movements may not be evident immediately, they will take their toll as the day progresses, contributing to the early onset of fatigue.