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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. Ben McDonald says:

    Lake Martin 100 2021, I was crew/pacing for my good friend David Parks. I DID consider myself a good helper for him, however neither of us could get his poles locked out. It was the middle of the night and every time he stuck his poles in the ground, they came disconnected. It was frustratingly funny. Of course he was a good bit disoriented around mile 65. He and I will be prepared next time.

  2. Daniel says:

    I started whit using poles while doing adventure races, and from there I started using them at ultras in the steep climbs. I have not use them that much in downhills, that’s something I need to improve before feeling comfortable using them in races.

  3. Brett Bell says:

    I started using poles on extended trail runs in the steep terrain of the Santa Lucia Mountains (Ventana Wilderness near Big Sur), they have been very helpful when exploring routes with lots of steep elevation change!

  4. Clint Sword says:

    I starting training with poles in 2019 for Canadian Death Race, it was a very wet year & the course is notorious for steep muddy sections. They were as valuable on the up, as much as traversing through mud strewn bush sections to help avoid obstacles. Later that year we ran TransAlpineRace through the alps. Here the were very much an aid, & even more so on the long downs of day 6-7-8 when the legs were pretty trashed.

  5. Andrew B says:

    I have not used poles yet, but on one training run on the Pennsylvania LHHT, everyone around me seemed to have them and I was definitely interested in trying them out!

  6. Ann says:

    I used poles for the first time when I attempted Pawnee-Buchanan Loop on a recovering ankle. I figured the poles might be helpful supporting my ankle. I was totally unprepared for exactly how much they would help! Made the uphill climbing easier (and get a whole body pole workout) as well as giving more stability on tired legs for the downhills. Since then, I use them for any longer, rockier, technical runs such as Four Pass Loop and they’ve been a game changer. I am still using my budget-mode $70 aluminum hiking poles so a nice Leki pair would really up the game 🙂

  7. gomobius says:

    1996 Hardrock!

  8. Josh B says:

    I used poles for the first time climbing up Malans Peak. I was planning on going up the peak two times to get some hill training in but found with the poles I had more energy and was moving faster than I had expected so I ended up doing three trips! I was sold on poles after that day!

  9. Amanda says:

    I have not used poles yet for running, but I have for backpacking and they are a game changer! I was surprised by how useful poles are and I cannot wait to use them in training for mountain races next year. My backpacking poles are a big larger and not very conducive for running. I have been looking for a lightweight pair of poles for running and would be so excited to try Leki!

  10. Jennifer O'Connor says:

    I borrowed a pair of poles from a much taller male friend to go up Hope Pass in the 2013 Leadville 100. Someone had to show me hot to use them during that climb because I had no idea what I was doing! I’ve used them since for big climbs at TRT100 and Wasatch 100, but honestly I need to work with them more. I want to get a pair of Lekis because one of the wrist straps on my Black Diamond poles broke almost as soon as I used them.

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