Posts Tagged ‘Stair running training’

Mark Bourne Stairclimbing Australia

Mark Bourne – winner of the 2013 Empire State Building Run-Up, seven-time winner of Melbourne’s Eureka Tower Stair Climb, holder of numerous course records and one of the top stair climbers in the world over the past decade – is the right man to take tower running advice from.

Bourne spoke with Men’s Health (Australia) to give some expert tower running tips, including pointers on warming up, pacing yourself and establishing a rhythm during a race.

Here are some of the highlights:

The lead up to the race

‘You definitely don’t want to be training the day before the race. I might do a light jog two days before, but it won’t be anything strenuous.’

‘Have confidence in your preparation and don’t introduce new things into your training routine.’

Warming up

‘Some 10 or 20 metre sprints at about 75 per cent would be a good warm-up. If you can find a small single stairwell to run up then that will also get the blood pumping around your body.’

Eat light

‘It’s not like a marathon so you don’t need to go carb loading. The worse thing you could do is fill yourself up to the point of feeling sick.’

‘It’s a personal preference but I also have a good hit of caffeine in the morning.’

Mark Bourne towerrunning

How to run a stair race

Aim for a steady pace

‘You’re going to be tempted to race off as quickly as you can, but you need to take it steady. Start off conservatively with a pace that you think you can maintain. And don’t worry if you find yourself running parts of the race and walking other bits, it’s bound to happen.’

‘The lactic acid will build up and burn deep in your legs, if you have to slow down then just do it. Walking intensely for a few flights will serve you better than trying to run through a pain that you can’t shake.’

Two steps at a time and use the railing

‘Make use of the railing, it can assist you when you’re going around corners. The other thing professionals do is climb two steps at a time. Whether you are walking or running, always aim for a couple steps in each time you go forward.’

Establish a rhythm

‘It’s not just a physical battle but a gruelling mental slog. You need to find a zone where you can just concentrate on your stepping rhythm and tunnel your vision towards the goal of reaching the top.’

‘It’s best to ignore any progress and avoid looking at the stairwell numbers. From the word go, see how far you can get before working out how high you are, the numbers will only slow you down.’

For the full list of tips, including what to do after a race, check out Bourne’s interview with Men’s Health Australia.

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Suzy Walsham tower running

Suzy Walsham is one of the greatest female tower runners of all time.

Reigning tower running world champion, and a ten-time winner of the famous Empire State Building Run-Up, Walsham is the most consistent stair runner on the circuit, very rarely finishing in anything other than first place.

A former track and field star for the Australian national team, Walsham won four national titles (3 x 1,500m and 1 x 800m) and competed in both distances at the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, before taking the sport of tower running by storm in 2007 by winning the Empire State Building Run-Up at her first attempt.

Heading into the 14th year of her stair running career, she remains practically unbeatable and shows absolutely no signs of slowing down. In March 2020 she will head to Paris in an attempt to secure a sixth straight win at La Verticale de la Tour Eiffel. She will also likely be heading to the Empire State Building (date TBC), to go for an incredible 11th title.

In the video below Walsham gives some insights into her training routine as well as what she eats to fuel her greatness.



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Piotr “Showtime” Lobodzinski, the reigning tower running world champion, shares some race advice and training tips in this video from Physique TV.


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A short insight into the thinking and training of competitive stair runner PJ Glassey. PJ runs Seattle’s X-Gym, which helped forge a lot of the leading climbers in the USA.

“You have to have a screw loose to do tower running, and to be competitive you have to have a couple screws loose”

At the competitive level stair running success is mostly mental. After that the lungs are most important, followed by the legs, core and arms. Making sure you have trained all those elements well will go a long way to helping you achieve a good time.

Over the next few weeks we will be looking at these five aspects in more detail, and pointing you in the right direction so you can start to build strength in each area. For now we will touch upon them briefly to give you an idea of the direction you want to be heading in.

Arms: Just as with flat-level running, the arms are a vital tool in stair climbing. This may be in the form of pumping back and forth to drive you up each flight of stairs hands free or more likely it will be through using the banisters as an aid to your climb. We will have more on using the banisters to help you climb soon, but it’s generally used like a rope to help pull you up the stairs during the climb. To build the necessary strength and endurance in the biceps and latissimus dorsi (the muscles on each side of your back), you will want to work on rowing type moves. This can be done on a rowing machine, pulley rack, or seated rower in the gym.

Core: There are loads of exercises to choose from to target this area of the body and it’s really a case of taking your pick. The classic crunch is a good one to start with, but we will point towards some more advanced techniques in upcoming posts.

Legs: These get overloaded pretty early on in a stair race so it’s vital to have a good base of muscular endurance in them to ensure you stay strong right onto the higher floors. Squats and lunges (both can be done with or without weights depending on your existing fitness level) are the key exercises for great leg development.

Lungs: Assuming you have a solid base of cardiovascular fitness, we would recommend you begin incorporating some High Intensity Interval Training (HIIT) into your schedule to get used to pushing your heart and lungs hard. Tabata is one of the most popular forms of this type of training and we recommend you try it on an upright bike, rower or inclined treadmill for best results.

Mental: Your mind will always tell you to quit, stop or slow down before your body is really ready to. When the lactic acid burn really takes hold you will want to stop, but it’s vital you don’t. Pushing yourself past this point in training is a great way of building up the mental strength to handle pain during the event itself. If you want to be competitive then this is the element that will separate you from the rest.

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