How to Use Poles for Ultra Running
Posted on July 14 2016
Last night, we hosted a group pole training session with Italian cross country ski instructor and gun trail runner, Stefano Del Favero from Alpinamente.
Anyone who follows the ultra trail scene will know that poles are becoming more popular these days. Last year's UTMB runner-up Luis Alberto Hernando is a big fan, and some people even call them "cheating sticks".
So what are Stefano's key tips to get the most of your poles?
- Get poles that fit. The traditional advice is to hold the pole normally and your elbow should create a right angle when you're upper arm is pointing down, however, Stefano likes poles a smidgeon longer to give you a longer push off.
- Use your straps - they take pressure off your forearms and allow you to push harder. Put your hands through the straps FROM BELOW, not from above, to maximise the hold.
- Generally, your pole should be at a 15 to 20 degree angle backwards when it strikes the ground to help your forward momentum and planting not in front of your back foot. From here, the movement should be mostly rotating the arm-pole by engaging the lats and core rather than pushing out with your triceps.
- There are a number of techniques that are useful, depending on the situation. Single pole in time with your steps is a standard uphill technique, while one pole per multiple steps is useful on flatter trails. Double pole forward works for steeper routes, but hold the poles close to your chest and lean forward for maximum power.
- Poles are also useful on the downhills for balance and to take pressure off your quads, but hold them out wide to prevent tripping or stabbing yourself.
- Practice, practice, practice. If you turn up to a race with poles but without having trained with them, they could even slow you down - but with solid training, they will become intuitive and really give you an advantage.
Gone Running stocks a great range of trekking poles for ultra running and will be happy to help you with expert advice to get the right sticks for you.