A Beginner's Guide to Trail Running Poles

A Beginner's Guide to Trail Running Poles

A Beginner's Guide to Trail Running Poles

Written By: SportsShoes

LEKI's James Moorcroft, explains the benefits of using running poles and how to use them effectively. He also provides guidance on choosing the right model to best suit your needs.

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leki-trail-running-with-poles

Photo credit: LEKI Trail Running ©Claudia Ziegler

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WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF USING RUNNING POLES?

Trail running poles come with a number of benefits to runners, and these mostly come down to one thing. Spreading the muscle load away from just the legs and into other muscle groups. This will generally mean you can run faster (over distance), feel less fatigued, and be more efficient when climbing gradients.

Why is spreading the load to other muscle groups beneficial to runners, and how does it work?

Well the mechanism works in essence by taking somewhere from 5-10kg from each step, and therefore slowing the build up of Substrates, and Metabolites in the muscles themselves. These, alongside poor fuel management are the primary cause of metabolic fatigue, and slowing their build up will allow for a marked increase in endurance. So using poles, and using them correctly will allow you to go for longer.

However, this does come with a cost, you’re going to require more fuel. As your legs can fire harder, for longer, when running with poles, you will need to take into account the extra energy used over long distances, and adjust accordingly.

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leki-trail-running-with-poles

Photo credit: LEKI Trail Running ©Claudia Ziegler

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I also mentioned efficiency and speed. These are both part and parcel when it comes to long distance races. As we know, if you’re efficient in your processes, your speed won’t drop, and overall your times will benefit. When using poles you can more efficiently tackle your ascents, reduce the impacts to your joints on your descents, and help your fast twitch balance muscles by offering two additional supports. All of this allows you to move with increased confidence and speed, cutting some dramatic numbers from your times.

So that’s why we would choose to use poles. We’ve all heard them get called cheat sticks, well great! Everybody already seems to know the difference they make, we even have a jokey name for them, and more and more people are coming to the realisation that their age old reasons for choosing to not use them just don’t hold weight any more. We spend a huge amount of money on shoes every year, with more and more technology, comfort, and grip with each new pair. Well it’s probably time to invest in a piece of kit that will affect your times more than anything you’ve ever bought before.

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HOW TO USE RUNNING POLES EFFECTIVELY

Firstly, and this is a big one, use them courteously. Too many people at races use their poles like Donald Trump uses his opinions, thrown in people's faces without care or consideration for others. We’ve all seen eyes almost taken out at stiles, and gates, so I would urge everyone to please use them carefully. Unclip often, and keep the tips facing down and in front. Be aware of your surroundings and the people around you - don’t swing them around too much. In terms of technique, I’d recommend taking a look at Nordic Walking technique and then adapt that for running. Or better yet book on a running with poles course. Previously, I've attended a workshop by Walx Helvellyn and Mountain Run, and I cannot recommend it enough. You learn the basics of Nordic Walking in the morning, and in the afternoon get those key skills adapted for running. It’s an invaluable course for anyone wishing to improve their technique with poles.

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RECOMMENDATIONS FOR RUNNING POLES

When it comes to buying yourself a pole there’s one important thing to take into consideration. Weight, and not necessarily that of the poles. I’m 5’11 and about 91kg (honeymoon weight, it’ll go), but it means I generally need a slightly more robust pole and would tend to go for the LEKI Cross Trail FX Superlite, still a superlight carbon race pole at 212g. It’s just a little sturdier and more likely to take my weight when I’m giving some on a steep uphill. If you have a slightly lighter frame, or if weight reduction was key, then the LEKI Ultratrail FX.One Superlite is the go-to pole for most of our sponsored runners, unbelievably light weight, and super easy to use. Both of these options come with the Shark strap. This is one of the standout features of LEKI’s current running range. Offering far more comfort than a standard handle, and dramatically reducing hand and forearm fatigue over longer distances. Once you’ve tried this system, you’ll almost immediately notice the difference in power output, and how much this helps towards the end of a race.

However if a new-fangled strap isn’t what you’re after, then the LEKI Neotrail FX.One Superlite offers all the build quality, and features of the Cross Trail and Ultratrail poles, but with a standard rubber grip, and tradition strap made form LEKI’s skin soft material.

SHOP ALL LEKI RUNNING POLES HERE

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leki-trail-running-with-poles

Photo credit: LEKI Trail Running ©Claudia Ziegler

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Find out more about off-road running by visiting our trail running hub and make sure you've got all the running kit you need for your next adventure.

Related post: Our Top Trail Running Shoes for Summer 2022 | The Trail Hub | SportsShoes.com







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