Posts Tagged ‘Stair running’

tube_map

The London Underground is still the simplest and most accessible training venue in the capital for those preparing for a stair running event.

With just an Oyster card and bottle of water in hand, you can zip around the city on the Tube to get in a solid workout on the emergency staircases at various stations.

But which Tube stations are the best for stair running? Read on to find out.

Although stair running on the Tube network is simple, it’s not without its problems.

Pros:

  • Easy access
  • Available from early morning to late evening
  • Mostly clear of other people (depending on time of day)
  • Lift back down available to start next climb


Cons:

  • Often dusty and dirty
  • Sooty rails blacken hands
  • Can’t leave bag down (security concerns)
  • Spiral staircases can be awkward to run on
  • No landing turns so can’t practice techniques for actual stair race

But if you just want somewhere straightforward to add some vertical to your training routine then the Underground is hard to beat. Keep reading to find out the five Tube stations with the highest number of steps and how to get to them.

5. Goodge Street

Goodge Street station stairs

How many steps: 136
What line is it on: Northern (Charing Cross branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

4. Russell Square

Russell Square station stairs

How many steps: 171 (claimed number is 175)
What line is it on: Piccadilly
How to find it above ground?: Map

3. Belsize Park

Belsize_Park_Station._Emergency_Stairs

How many steps: 189 (claimed number is 219)
What line is it on: Northern (Edgware branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

2. Covent Garden

Covent Garden station stairs

How many steps: 193
What line is it on: Piccadilly
How to find it above ground?: Map

1. Hampstead

hampstead_tube_station_emergency_staircase_-_geograph-org-uk_-_1473478 (1)

How many steps: 320
What line is it on: Northern (Edgware branch)
How to find it above ground?: Map

If you want alternative ideas for places to do stair running training, check out our guide on the best places to run stairs in London for inspiration.

You might also be interested in:

Sproule Love stair run

Sproule Love is arguably the greatest American stair climber ever.

Since his tower running debut at the Empire State Building Run-Up in 1999, he has gone on to win numerous races and set course records around the USA. He has routinely been the highest-placed American finisher at the ESBRU over the past 20 years, including finishing third in 2018 and sixth in 2019.

You can read about his early ESBRU exploits in 2001 and 2002 where he finished in third place both times.

2002 mens start

Sproule Love (in the red bandana) gets out in front at the start of the 2002 Empire State Building Run-Up

You could fill a book with the stories and exploits from Sproule Love’s fantastic 20-year stair climbing career.

The excellent video below, recorded in 2013, gives just a small insight into the mindset of this American champion. In it Love talks a little about his tower running journey and you get to see him training flat out at the 40-floor tower he lives in in New York.

Reminiscing about the good old days

Love recently caught up with his alma mater, Saint Louis Country Day School. The interesting interview with his former school’s magazine runs through his athletic journey, from becoming cross country team captain in his senior year at CDS – where he ‘discovered a talent for suffering’ – to making the US Olympic trials for biathlon in 1998, and on to his fantastic tower running career.

He also reveals his favourite stair race and says why he thinks it’s important to ‘slow down and turn your phone off every once in a while’.

Click the link below to read the full article:

Sproule Love sprints to the top

It’s hard to believe that Londoners have been racing up stairs for almost 290 years, but it’s true.

In 1730, a young man took on the challenge of running up and down what at the time was one of the capital’s tallest structures.

Read on to find out more about what surely must be the earliest record of competitive stair running.

The venue: The Monument to the Great Fire of London

The Monument commemorates the Great Fire of London that happened in 1666. The renowned architect Christopher Wren (of St Paul’s Cathedral fame) worked on its design along with Robert Hooke, and construction began on it in 1671. By 1677, the 202 feet (62m) column was complete. It was positioned 202 feet from the spot where the Great Fire had begun on Pudding Lane.

Inside, a narrow spiral staircase with 311 steps led up to a viewing deck at the top. You can see the Monument in the image below (highlighted by red arrow), just east of the old London Bridge.

London in 1730

An engraving of London made in 1730. The Monument can be seen to the east of London Bridge, highlighted by the red arrow.

The Monument close up

A closer look at The Monument, taken from an engraving of the city of London made in 1710.

The Monument in 1753

The Monument in 1753.

The wager: the Baptist Head Tavern, Old Bailey

On Thursday, 24 September 1730, a group of men sat in the Baptist Head Tavern, which was at the southern end of Old Bailey, the road most famously known for featuring London’s central criminal court among its buildings.

A small excerpt in the following Saturday’s (26th September) copy of J. Read’s Weekly Journal gives all the information we have about what transpired next, so some of the finer details remain unknown.

Old Bailey map Baptist Tavern

The Old Bailey (O Bayley) can be seen on this map from 1739. The arrow shows the approximate location of the Baptist Head Tavern at the southern end of the street, facing the courts.

The group made ‘a considerable wager’ among themselves, placing money on whether a barman (‘a nimble little drawer’) at the Baptist Head Tavern could run up the 311 steps of The Monument and back down again in three minutes or less.

The Monument is around a mile east of the Old Bailey, with an easy 20-minute walk getting you from one place to the other.

At The Monument, the speedy barman managed to complete the stair running challenge in just 2:32, which was deemed ‘an extraordinary performance’.

The Monument stairs

The narrow staircase inside The Monument.

Apparently on his way down the stairs he was shouting, ‘Coming, coming Sir’.

The actual copy from the Weekly Journal is reproduced below:

1730 exerpt

Although it wasn’t a ‘race’ as such (though still a race against the clock), this is now easily the earliest example of stair running for sport we’ve seen. It pre-dates the earliest proper stair race in Paris in 1903, by a massive 173 years.

Earlier this year, The Monument made good promotional use of this historic event to challenge visitors to beat the record of the ‘nimble little drawer’.

The venue tends to be fairly busy at all times of the day, so getting a clear run up and down is very unlikely. But you can enter the site every day from 9.30am for £4.50 to give it a shot. More info available on The Monument website.

You may also be interested in:

Thomas Dold towerrunning

Would you fancy your chances of beating a top tower runner if you could run up an escalator while they took the stairs?

A few years back, brave commuters at the Stadtmitte S-Bahn station in downtown Stuttgart got the chance to go up seven-time winner of the Empire State Building Run-Up, Thomas Dold.

The tower running superstar took the stairs, while members of the public, kitted out in full on safety gear, ran up the escalator beside him to see if they could beat him to the top.

Watch the video below to see how they all got on. This would make a great stunt in a London station ahead of one of the big charity climbs!

 

You might also be interested in:

GherkinChallenge_2018-476

Stair climbing is one of the best fitness activities you can do, but it’s not always clear exactly how to get started if you’re a complete beginner.

If you’ve signed up for Shelter’s Vertical Rush in March 2020, your training should be getting under way soon, so you might be looking for some ideas on how to approach the race and how to train for it.

To steer you in the right direction we’ve put together this quick guide to stair running, which has training tips and techniques to help you prepare.

Why stair climbing?

Stair climbing is the perfect workout as it’s free, low impact and high-intensity, which means you get a great fitness boost in a short space of time. No big long runs or expensive fitness classes here. You’ll likely burn as many calories doing a solid 15-minute stair workout as you would doing a much longer steady state jog.

Sign up for a stair race

Chances are, if you’re reading this, you’ve already signed up for a tower running event. But if not, there’s nothing like the draw of an upcoming event to keep you motivated and committed to stair climbing.

London skyline

If you’re in the UK, our tower running race calendar has every upcoming UK stair race listed, so you can pick an event and plan well ahead. It’s regularly updated as new races are announced, so if you don’t see anything that suits it’s worth checking back at a later date for updates.

If you’re outside the UK, the race calendar on the Towerrunning World Association website should have you covered.

Where to run stairs in London?

So you’ve signed up for a stair race. What now?

If you’re in London your best bet for an easily accessible training venue is to go to the Tower Wing of Guy’s Hospital. There you’ll find 700+ steps on a quiet stairwell (if you go in the evenings) that’s open until 10pm (note the doors into the stairwell close to the public at 8pm, so you’ll want to get inside by then. Once you’re in, getting out isn’t a problem).

If you can’t get down to Guy’s Hospital, there are other options available in the capital. Check out our guide on where to run stairs in London.

If you’re not in London, you should be looking for hospitals and hotels as your go to training venues. If you work in an office with 6+ floors, or have access to a block of flats, that will be perfect, too.

Campus-Guys-hospital.x3d1f55a0

Guy’s Hospital alongside the Shard

Take two steps at a time

If possible you really want to be taking two steps at a time while your training for a stair running event, and when you’re racing. If you’re hoping to make a fast time at Vertical Rush this is essential. It can feel harder but try single stepping the same distance and you’ll see you actually expend more energy, especially if you’re not just walking.

Double step as many flights as you can and then build from there. If you make it five floors in your first sessions, aim for six or more in the next one. You’ll find you body will adapt really quickly and you’ll probably surprise yourself with the gains you’re making.

Of course, if for whatever reason you can’t double step, you’ll still get an excellent workout taking one step at a time. The important thing is to get on some stairs and start climbing.

Use the railing
espnw_e_frey01jr_576

US stair running legend Kristin Frey demonstrating a great rail technique – hand over hand like a pulling a rope

We see a lot of newcomers to stair climbing not touch the railing, but it’s far more efficient if you do. Not only does it keep you stable and straight, thus focusing your energy on going up, but it also helps you to take the turns on each landing a little quicker, which will save you time overall in a race. Add to that a decent upper body workout and pulling on the railing is a no-brainer.

Coming down the stairs

Ideally you always want to get the lift back down after you have done your stair climb training sets. All the non-impact benefits are undone if you have to keep descending stairs once you reach the top. It will likely leave you with sore calves and quads for a couple of days after too.

If getting the lift down is simply not an option then try and spread the load around your muscles by using different descending techniques each time (sideways, backwards, feet turned in and then out), or even each flight.

article-2286513-185E0937000005DC-224_964x959

Should have taken the lift – avoid descending the stairs when you can and be careful when you can’t.

How to train for a tower race without stairs

If you can’t find access to stairs on a regular basis for your training, don’t worry. There are plenty of options available.

As long as you’re taxing your legs and cardiovascular system in each workout, you’ll be well prepared for the demands of a stair race.

If you have access to a gym then a step mill, Jacob’s Ladder or stationary bike are all solid options for replicating the demands of stair running.

Incline walking or running are also excellent alternatives to climbing stairs. This will elevate your heart rate quickly, simulating the effects of a stair race, and will also engage the key muscles of your glutes, quads and calves as well.

You can alternate between steady, endurance-building workouts and ones where you do short bursts of sprints, such as 30 seconds on and 30 seconds off.

If you don’t have access to a treadmill, then hill runs outdoors will get the job done, too.

You may also be interested in: