February 19, 2020

All About Poles


Poles can be incredible tools. But, they aren’t something to be leaned on after you’ve already exhausted your uphill climbing legs or are stumbling to maintain balance on downhills in the late stages of your 100 miler. They are a precision instrument to be used effectively and practiced with time and time again. They can be a hugely effective tool when used correctly.

So, let’s tune into this short video below. It highlights some effective ways to implement poles into your uphill running and powerhiking. My personal favorite method is the double pole-plant followed by 3 bounding steps. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OB0LABCYlto)

WHY WE LIKE POLES at Microcosm Coaching:

(1) Improves uphill economy

(2) Improves uphill velocity @ Aerobic Threshold

(3) Keeps body upright and back straight which helps maintain proper breathing, max inhalation (open diaphragm)

(4) Helps keep diaphragm from collapsing over the course of a long race with repeated long uphills

(5) Shifts and balances climbing load from quads/glutes/calves and back

(6) Stability downhill

(7) Increased points of contact in technical terrain

(8) Reduces impact of downhill forces/saves legs

When to use poles:

(1) Long races with long durations of climbing (Mountain Ultra)

(2) Short races with long durations of climbing (Skyraces)

(3) Poles are most effective when climbs last you at least 25-30 minutes and you have frequent bouts of hill climbing at these durations! They are even more beneficial when the climbs are up to or over one hour.

When not to use poles and when to powerhike!

(1) Rolling course with short uphills and short downhills that occur frequently

(2) Short efforts/races of less than 2/3 hours depending on your level

(3) Races were you intend to run the majority of the course and keep a fairly high intensity. Example: Trail Marathon, 30k, Half or 20k.

(4) Your local Turkey Trot.

When gearing up for your big races this season, we suggest you consider adding poles to your quiver. This tool needs to be practiced with. Practice taking them apart and putting them away during your runs, while your running, while you are eating, drinking, etc…everything needs to be second nature.

We LOVE the Leki Micro Trail Pro over other products out there. (https://www.leki.com/us/micros/poles/3107/micro-trail-pro/?c=727)