Having taken onboard a series of informed comments, personal judgements and guidance from various running forums and magazines, I decided to ‘invest’ in a pair of LEKI Micro Stick Carbon Poles.
…The first thing I had to ask was, “what was I looking to get out of the use of these poles and not just be buying for buying sake?” Having taken on the decision to run more mountain ultra races this year, I was and had been looking at what other runners have been using on similar terrain, if not the same races as I was now training to take part in. These races are Transvulcania 2014 and the UTMB 2014. Having had the opportunity to head over to Chamonix, last year on holiday, and see first hand what runners prepare with and successfully utilise for tackling these serious mountainous ranges. I was beginning to see, that when it came to taking on these aggressive and rugged slopes, poles were being used by many. In actual fact, it was trickier to spot anyone without a set of poles, than someone with.
Without going into significant depth on the benefits of ultra trail running with poles, the main factor for me was ‘efficiency’. I’ve read, heard and seen many runners all commenting on the fact that poles will aid you in a multitude of ways:
Using the poles properly on uphill significantly improves your power & endurance. Spread the work of the muscles over the entire body to experience greater endurance and more energy. Improved posture allows more efficient breathing, thereby improving endurance.
Posture & Cardiopulmonary Function:
Poles facilitate a more upright posture which improves breathing. Walking with poles “self corrects” the posture allowing the lungs to reach greater capacity, which benefits cardio-pulmonary function and also increases endurance. Many of the muscles used support the spine. This facilitates an elongation of the spine and, by strengthening these muscles on a regular basis, you might notice improved posture.
Preserve your joints:
Poles protect your joints by reducing the stress that’s added to your knees, ankles, hips and spine.
Tricky trails become easier with the stability poles provide on the trail.
I also came across an article in the American Trail Running Magazine, written by the acting editor Yitka Winn, where she took part in this year’s Transvulcania and titled her personal blog “The Hardest Sh*t I’ve Ever Done”. One key factor within this great piece was the fact that she was struggling with the severe uphill sections and was kindly offered a pole by another runner – long and short – things improved and she stormed home!
Feel free to read her personal account of the Transvulcania here:
Yitk’s personal blog can be found here:
So, from all of my research, the general consensus of what was better for the terrain, strain and endurance, that I was looking for as support as well as applying to my poles, two were shortlisted:
“LEKI Micro Stick Carbon” and the “Black Diamond Carbon Ultra Distance” – this was where it came to ergonomics, weight, cost and a few final comments from runners that had used both and what they had preferred when running the UTMB and desert trails. – I went for LEKI and so far love them! They’re everything you will read about from the lightweight benefits, to the non blistering Aergon Thermo Grip – these so far are working for me!
Enjoying the times where my poles, give rest to my legs that leave me wobbling around, like a new born giraffe! 😉