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When did you start using poles?

Brand Partners

July 6th, 2022

2 min read


We all remember our first race or favorite adventure, but what about the first time you added poles into the mix? Below, LEKI athlete Sabrina Stanley shares her story of when she started running and training with poles and why it has been a game changer for her.

Have a story of your own? Share your experience in the comments section and be automatically entered for a chance to win a new pair of LEKI Ultratrail FX One Superlite Poles. One random winner will be selected and notified.

When did you start using poles when running?

I started running with poles consistently when I began training for a mountainous 100-miler in the summer of 2018. I knew I would be using poles for the entirety of the race, so I ran with poles during all my training miles. This helped get my upper body familiar with the additional load it would be taking on while climbing and descending. It also taught me how to use the poles efficiently. 

Was there an “Ah-Ha” moment when you knew running with poles was a game-changer?

My “Ah-Ha” moment came when I was studying the most competitive runners in the world at races that piqued my interest. These runners were all using poles. To be competitive I knew I had to learn how to use poles to assist in my running if I wanted to run at the same level as the top athletes.

In a sentence or two, how would you describe the benefits of running with poles?

Poles take some of the load off a runner’s legs while going up and downhill. This transfer of power to the upper body allows a runner to conserve their legs for a longer period.

Don’t forget! Comment below about your first experience running or training with poles and you could win a free pair of LEKI Ultratrail FX One Superlite Poles. [the contest period for commenting is now closed]

349 thoughts on "When did you start using poles?"

  1. Laura Despeaux says:

    I have never used trekking poles but I am interested to try them to see how it is too run with them.

  2. Shelly Klinger says:

    I haven’t done a mountainous ultra yet, but I’m ready to try it, thank you for the advice!

  3. Nate McBride says:

    First time I used poles was on a training run at a nearby mountain. There was still a bit of snow on the mountain and so not only did I get to learn the process of using poles for the “up”, they came in extraordinarily handy on the lateral traverses where there was still so snow and I would have had no other way to cross without them. Ever since, I bring them with me on vert races and training runs and they are just too light and simple not to have around.

  4. Andrew Channell says:

    The first time I used poles, I was expecting them to be useful mostly for the uphills, but what I didn’t expect was just how much they would help on the downhills. Having that extra bit of stability really helps you have more confidence, which means you can move much faster on technical descents. A lot of people joke about poles being “cheater sticks”, but I’m definitely an evangelist for using them.

  5. Dan says:

    As soon as I started going after mountain ultras like Never Summer 100k or Bighorn 100 I started training with poles and it’s amazing how it taxes the upper body and requires more coordination, but ultimately offers so much in ascending AND descending!

  6. J Westfall says:

    I started using poles this year and it was a total game changer for me. They helped me to finish a hilly 45 miler a full 2 hours faster this year over last year without using them. I too was influenced by some of the top ultra trail races out there and particularly by one of my favorites, Courtney D who I heard on a podcast specifically about poles. She said something that inspired me to give them and other go when she said not to worry about whether you’re using them correctly just go out and practice with them and develop your own technique/style and you’ll find what works for you. She also said it was like going from 2-wheel to 4-wheel drive, which I very much connected with, being an off-road enthusiast. Now I won’t attempt a run that has 20+ miles and anything over 3,000 ft el without them!

  7. Melissa says:

    I used them for a 50 miler in the Marin headlands. People gave me funny looks because the trails aren’t technical, but my upper body is strong and I wanted to take advantage of that! I loved passing fitter looking people at the end of the race as I stayed feeling pretty fresh!

  8. TJ says:

    Started using poles after some knee problems, made mountains possible again, and actually enjoyable!

  9. David says:

    4 wheel drive is better than 2 wheel drive.

  10. Patrick Heine says:

    I first realized poles were the way to go for the mountains while racing a 100k in Germany. As I struggled to climb a muddy slope, grabbing trees for leverage, the European runners click-clacked right past me without any worries!

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