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To pole or not to pole - preparing for the hilly terrain by Coach Monty, Nathan Montague

It is December and I need to give you my Christmas present. And we are talking poles. No, not The North or South Pole. But 'cheat sticks', 'Nordic poles' or 'hiking poles' as they are sometimes called.  The use of poles in trail running races has become increasingly popular. No, not because it is the latest technical fad passing its way through the running world. But, because in Ultra trail running, the use of poles can help us conserve energy, move more efficiently and move faster. But, there is a big but...... if not used properly or mindfully, they are just an extra bit of kit to carry, or keep your hands busy. They are not cheat sticks but a useful bit of kit that both elite and novice runners can use to save energy on their leg muscles.  Please see my eight point guide to using poles effectively during races:
  • Put your hand right up through the strap
  • Keep your elbow/arm at a right angle
  • Move the pole 15-20 degree backward when strikes
  • Do not strike the pole in front of backfoot
  • Rotate arms/poles by using the core muscles and not the triceps
  • Push from core muscles to propel yourself forward
  • Touch the pole light into the ground for rhythm
  • On the flat use single pole strikes for multiple steps

    These are skills. Like your running training, you need to train to use poles effectively. And the core and upper body muscles. Train your core. Use your poles in training. Focus on one or two key points at a time. And importantly, get super speedy at taking out, using, and putting poles back in your pack. 

    Go 'Play with your Poles!'