Elite Level Training Tips: Kristin Frey

Posted: January 9, 2014 in Training
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Kristin Frey is a vegan endurance athlete and elite stair runner from Illinois who came third in the 2013 Tower Running World Cup standings. She started her athletic career as a marathoner before transitioning into tower running in the 2010 season. She immediately began clocking up wins and has maintained her position among the world’s best stair runners for the last few years. She also has three top ten finishes in the Empire State Building Run Up (2011-2013), one of the classic events of the stair running calendar.

Last year, in the lead up to the NSPCC Gherkin Challenge, Tower Running UK got in touch with Kristin in order to get some insight into how the best tower runners train for an event. Kristin was very generous with her time and provided some great information about how she trains and her favoured techniques while powering up the stairs.

1. How do you pace yourself during a race?
“I usually try to start off conservative, or on the slower side, and pace myself during a climb. I will usually check my watch every 10-20 floors to see what kind of pace I’m on and I pick a “go-floor” where I tell myself to pick up the pace so I can finish strong.  I’m never actually running up the steps, some of the other top climbers can get away with that but I usually take 2 steps at a time and its a quick walk.”

2. What sort of rail grip/technique do you use?
“I usually use the rail like a rope, so I’m pulling myself hand over hand.  I find that to be best for me.  Other climbers may use both rails if the stairwell is narrow enough and some of the top climbers may run up the steps barely touching the rail, but I prefer to stick to the inside rail.”

3. Could you give us an insight into your training regimen, e.g. sets, length of intervals, pace, alternating two step and one step runs?
My favourite training building is 20 floors, it takes me about 2:30-3:00 to climb depending on my pace.  Sometimes I will do 5 climbs using my normal technique and a fast pace, my rest will be the elevator ride down (usually about 3:00).  I will also do 5-10 floor sprints where I’m running steps.  Whenever I’m doing a standard climb workout, I will always take two steps.  When I’m sprinting I will vary between one step running and two steps.  For sprints, I may do 5-10 floors then rest 1:00 then go again.  Maybe do 5-6 sprints. For cross training I do a lot of spinning and will also run on the treadmill with the incline set to 11-15%.  You could do intervals that will last the duration of your race, so 5:00 intervals if you think it’ll take you 5:00 to climb, etc.”

4. What one crucial tip would you give to a novice (but fit) stair runner to help them achieve a good time?
“I think the main thing is getting in some training in the stairwell so your familiar with it, and you can work on some technique.  Your heart rate will be high almost immediately and you’ll be breathing hard so start off conservative. Most people will start off too fast and then get tired after 5-10 floors!  It’s better to have extra energy and to pick up your pace along the way instead of crawling to the top”

If you can adapt some of these tips to your training schedule and be mindful of Kristin’s tip to pace yourself properly on race day, you stand a good chance of clocking a competitive time.

Tower Running UK would like to extend a massive thank you to Kristin Frey for her help and wishes her the best for the 2014 season, where she is planning to put most of her focus on ultramarathons. You can follow her progress at her blog: http://kristinfrey.blogspot.co.uk/

Interested in taking part in a tower running event? Check out our partners Total Motion Events or our race calendar to find out what events are happening near you.

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