I'm not a natural blogger and I'm no techie. I'm an ultra trail runner by passion, and a journalist by profession - in that order of priority.
In this blog I use the one to talk about the other - my trail thoughts, musings and meanderings about running mountains and trails.
I call it rockhoppin', just because... well... that's what we trail runners love to do!

Monday, August 9, 2010

From pole to pole

Well, I’m happy to report I’m back running again... again. It feels good not to feel, for the first time in more than a month, that I’m not popping a lung every time I run uphill.

So, to celebrate I thought I’d take up pole dancing.

Alas, there’s nothing exotic or erotic about this kind of pole – sure, it involves dressing in lycra, looking rather flushed and doing a good deal of heavy breathing, but graceful I am not. In fact, when I’m at my pole, I look as ungainly as a tarantula on a tightrope, or one of George Lucas’s giant metal walkers off the set of Star Wars.

You see, this kind of pole dancing involves not one but two poles, and no saucy sliding or gyrating. These poles are handheld and have only one purpose: to get me up steep, winding alpine paths faster. There’s not a lot that’s sexy about that.

I’m still a beginner at this poling lark, and I have to say, I’m pretty bad at it. I’m told there’s a technique to it – it’s all about rhythm and flow. But right now my poling technique, if I can even call it that, is more about clumping along at negligible speed, splaying these lightweight sticks about in every direction and desperately trying to think about placement for four feet instead of two.

I’m told that, like riding a bicycle or learning to balance on ice skates, running effectively with poles is simply a matter of practice, and that it won’t be long before I’m “one with my poles”. I’ve got to hope so... so far I‘m a trail hazard with the things – tripping up Ryan won’t be the ideal way to try and keep up with him in the Alps.

So, if any of you have any handy tips about mastering the poling technique - or have any pole dancing tips to offer, feel free to make them known!


  1. Hey - I'm afraid I can't even give you any tips on the other type of pole dancing, but just google it and you'll undoubtedly find some healthy advice! I'm so glad to hear your lungs are back to full capacity. this blog, I must say, must be one of my favourites. It's very funny and I love the image of a tarantula on a tightrope. Keep running and keep writing.

  2. Heya Linda,

    I've been using trekking poles for almost 10 years - love them!

    As for pole dancing... I've been doing it for just over 2 years and I've been teaching for over 18 months. Fabulous sport. Check out www.lisaonthepole.blogspot.com

  3. Hey Lisa,
    Ok, you got me there hook, line and proverbial sinker! Maybe it should've read lisaupthepole.blogspot :-))
    Thanks for the trekking pole assurance - I'll keep working at it!

  4. Hi, Thrilled that you are back to running. I'm having the same problems with my poles! How do you get your water bottles out without stabbing someone beside or behind you? Good luck with the practicing, I'm sure you will have it cracked by the time you start the race!


  5. Hey Lins. Great blog!! Sure you will conquer the poles as you do most everything else. Attitude is so much of it and yours is unquestionable.Know you are worried about all the forced rest time while you've been sick, but those legs have many many miles on them & will carry you thru. All the best for the altitude training over the next 10 days or so.We look forward to enjoying a well deserved extremely good bottle of wine with you on your return from Italy. xxx

  6. Using poles is something I also still need to master. When the serious hills start coming I'll start picking up that skill. Sure you can go on YouTube for loads of videos on how to use them. The poles will save your knees! I've read somewhere some staggering statistics about how much weight it takes of your knees during a days hike. So for a weeks running it must do wonders! Good luck!

  7. If you really want to know about Pole to Pole running, check out Pat Farmer (Australian Ultra legend) and his next challenge

    Kinda puts us "normal" ultrarunners to shame.