This topic: Poles or No Poles? – Breaking it Down, is a popular and controversial question among trail runners, ultra runners, and skyrunners.
Poles or No Poles, that is the question. Let’s break it down.
Let’s Talk About Poles
I have asked sooo many of my peers and coaches this question. I have heard so many different sides. I have heard the pros and cons. I have seen races where either everyone races with poles or no one does. So, poles or no poles?
I’ve heard at the start of the UTMB (Ultra Trail du Mont Blanc, in Chamonix, France) race about 90% of racers use poles. Now, in the USA if you get to the start of a race most people do not use poles, ever. At a race in South Africa, the UTCT (Ultra Trail Cape Town), and it was a complete mix of poles and no poles. Obviously the terrain is extremely different, but just to give you an idea about how common poles are used in different parts of the world. –> Poles are used so much more in Europe than in the USA.
What are some of the benefits of using poles? For some people it gives them a tempo that they can listen for, others it helps with staying upright while running or hiking. –> Staying upright while running creates more airflow in your lungs instead of bending over and blocking the airflow, which makes it easier to run. 😉
(!) Running uphill vs. Running Downhill (!)
Running uphill, poles are great. But running downhill, poles are a little more tricky. So, if you do go running downhill with poles please(!) keep your wrists out of the straps… because if you fall while your hands are through the straps, you may twist or do something weird with your arms, or you might not be able to catch yourself.
Personal Thoughts <3
Personal benefits of carrying poles: helping myself up the mountain, and for speed up the mountain. Also, in my opinion, one of the most important benefits of bringing poles with me, is safety. Taking poles with me creates a distance and a weapon from animals and humans. Yup, poles have saved my life more than once.
I don’t really see any cons because why not take them with you? Some days I don’t go running with poles because I like to run without poles as well, but sometimes I take them just in case.
The Poles I Use for Trail Running, Skyrunning
I currently train and race with Black Diamond’s Carbon Z Poles. I love these poles. They are lightweight, and they easily come apart and compact to fit in a running vest.
Poles are a must have for me. Are they a must for you?