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!