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using trekking poles = slower?

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  • using trekking poles = slower?

    Does anyone with long distance experience find that on flat/flattish ground, they go slower with poles? Recently I found myself syncing my stride to the rate at which I can swing the poles forward; because I'm not whipping them back and forth, I actually found that I was "waiting" for the poles. Has anyone experienced this?
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  • #2
    I never noticed that, but nor did I ever paid attention to this aspect either. I would think instantenous speed on relatively flat and smooth ground where the advantages of poles don't apply would never be faster until the point your legs can't sustain the pace you want anymore, if that ever happens on that type of terrain.

    If we just think about the mechanics as the limiting factor, the distance someone can travel is a function of time and intensity. Any long distance runner learns that pretty quickly. So for me poles make me faster at the tail end of a long hike, but might very well slow me down at the beginning as you experienced.

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    • #3
      FKT = fastest known time
      ​most of the records for GRT, Pemi, Pressie are held by trail runners using single length fiber carbon poles.
      ​I'm not that fast and I can't seem to coordinate poles with my stride so I don't like them. For most people with experience they should increase speed over time with better endurance.

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      • #4
        I was told long ago to swing the poles in sync with the opposite leg, but I don't do it. When I place a pole its when and where I think it will help me. I'm sure I get into some sort of rhythm, but it's kinda random and not 1:1 with my stride.and the poles don't always touch the ground. I can often go downhill faster with the poles (unless its a scramble). Flats and uphill, it's mostly just something to do with my arms. They are good with heavier packs, for stream crossings, and when wearing snowshoes . I don't always use poles.

        Syncing your stride and waiting for the poles to swing sounds like that annoying song that won't get out of your head. You could press the matter by swinging the poles faster, but I prefer them to be independent events.

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        • #5
          I almost always carry poles but don't always use them; on flat easy ground, that continues for a bit, I will often just carry them (both in one hand).

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          • Natlife
            Natlife commented
            Editing a comment
            On these types of sections I often don't use my poles too. I use the straps and don't want to be bothered taking them off and back on often, especially in the winter when I sometimes have to fight then. So I just cross them flat together horizontally behind my back, grabbing each pole near the basket with the opposing hand. Or also sometimes crossing them in the same way over my shoulders and let my arms hang from them. I find both of these kinda shift my posture and somehow provide a nice relief for a while when I'm getting tired.

        • #6
          I've found that with a full, overnight pack on I like having the poles for balance. With just a day pack on I am quite sure I move faster without them.

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          • #7
            I almost always use poles, and on flat sections I am able to sync my arm swing so that I push off with a pole as I take each step (opposite arm from stepping leg). This helps me to move fairly fast and with a smooth stride, often around 4mph on flats. Instead of planting the poles in front of me in a vertical position, I angle them so that the tip lands more alongside me. But this is only for flat ground; climbing/descending is a totally different technique.
            We don't stop playing because we get old; we get old because we stop playing ~ Satchel Paige

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            • #8
              Right, that's been my observation as well.

              I seldom use poles. I only use them if I am carrying a heavy pack on fairly flat trails (like backpacking the NP). As the roughness of the terrain increases, poles slow you down. Need hands free for grabbing stuff. Once it gets to rock scrambling and bushwhacking, poles are a definite impediment. Some folks, as MG mentioned, can make them work at high speed on rough trails. I know folks who can do that, too. But for most people, my observation has been that when the poles come into use on rough trails, the pace slows WAY down.

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              • #9
                I rarely use my poles on flat sections but tend to carry them both in one hand and extended so if I come across something that would normally slow me down (log, mud, etc), the poles are ready to help me maintain speed. My pole of choice for the past few summers has been the Black Diamond Alpine Carbon Cork. Its not the lightest pole on the market but its weight is focused near the handles, which more or less eliminates any type of "pendulum" effect. I emphasize summer usage because in the winter I use Leki Corklites for a safety reasons.
                “Getting to the top is optional. Getting down is mandatory.” - Ed Viesturs

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                • #10
                  This...

                  Originally posted by NorthShore
                  When I place a pole its when and where I think it will help me. I'm sure I get into some sort of rhythm, but it's kinda random and not 1:1 with my stride.and the poles don't always touch the ground. I can often go downhill faster with the poles (unless its a scramble). Flats and uphill, it's mostly just something to do with my arms. They are good with heavier packs, for stream crossings, and when wearing snowshoes . I don't always use poles.

                  Syncing your stride and waiting for the poles to swing sounds like that annoying song that won't get out of your head. You could press the matter by swinging the poles faster, but I prefer them to be independent events.


                  Sent from my SM-G935V using Tapatalk

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                  • #11
                    I also use poles all the time and if anything I go faster, not slower, with them in the flats/easy grades. I push my pace and use them for balance when I make long strides, "spring" over step overs, small drainage ditches, etc by using them like small pole vaults by cradling my wrists in the straps, etc. I make no effort to synchronize anything (or at least not consciously anyway). My stride and the next clear place I can plant my foot is what I concentrate on and I'll place the poles wherever I need them for balance or brief support. Somewhat like down hill skiing I guess. It is more of a flick than actual planting of the pole into the ground and if they serve no purpose I might just hold them up in a "ready" position.

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                    • #12
                      I might be a bit faster without trekking poles, but I will not be able to move at all next day after this (knee problems).

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                      • #13
                        I use one pole, occasionally switching from hand to hand and give the other pole to my son. I like the stability and they are useful for poking in mud holes for a foothold and clearing spider webs in the path. I think overall it makes it faster. When it gets steeper I stow them and prefer to use my hands on rocks, roots and trees for stability and assistance. (Though I will probably get yelled at for saying that lol)

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