Posts Tagged ‘vertical rush training’

Race season will soon be upon us and no doubt there will be lots of newcomers to the sport taking on their first tower. With Vertical Rush for Shelter just a few months away training should be starting now at the latest, so we’ve put together some stair running tips to help those new to the sport.

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 an hour long steady state jog.

Where to run stairs in London?

If you’re in London your best bet 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. 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. Find out more ideas on where to run stairs in London.

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Guy’s Hospital, London – tallest hospital in the world and TRUK training venue!

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 race 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.

Use the railing

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. Add to that a decent upper body workout and pulling on the railing is a no-brainer.

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

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 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.

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

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Preparing for a stair climbing race can be tricky if you don’t have access to a tall building.

But even if you don’t live or work in a high-rise tower, there are still options available to get in some great, specific training.

Read on to find out some of the best places to run stairs in London.

Running stairs on the London Underground

Keep to the left!

When traveling on the tube, don’t just stand on the escalators. Get moving and pump up the left hand side two steps at a time. If you’re a regular commuter, you will certainly get some benefits from these short bursts.

For something more substantial, you’ll want to head onto the emergency stairs at one of the stations. The popular suggestion when this comes up is to head for Covent Garden, where there are 193 steps. People often wrongly assume this is the tallest set of stairs on the Underground. It isn’t. That honour goes to Hampstead Station on the Northern Line, which boasts over 320 stairs.

Covent Garden is one of the busier stations on the network and in our opinion it’s to be avoided. Its central location is appealing, but it’s just too busy, and really the ride out to Hampstead is worth it. There you will almost certainly have the stairs to yourself for the duration of your session, and the lift is close to the top of the steps making fairly quick intervals possible. The staff there are pretty friendly too and might let you leave a bag in their office while you train. Do not leave anything at all on the stairs while you are running, as you will almost certainly be asked to move it. Pack light and run with your stuff in a back pack if you can’t, or don’t want to, leave it with the staff upstairs.

Also, be sure to bring some water, and maybe some latex gloves because the bannisters are very, very sooty and will leave your palms completely black.

The only down side to training on the underground is that it can be quite difficult to get a good rhythm going on the spiral staircase. Plus there are no landing turns so you won’t be able to practice those either.

The entrance to the stairs at Hampstead tube station.

‘I’ve got a stair race to win, of course it’s an emergency!!’

Hospitals and public buildings

London is home to the tallest hospital in the world, which is Guy’s – with its Tower Wing being the tallest building in it. There are 700+ stairs there to train on, and access in and out is pretty straightforward. It’s located a very short walk from London Bridge Station, just behind The Shard, and is the best option in the city for stair running.

Check out its location here.

Guys Hospital Tower Wing

The Tower Wing at Guy’s hospital offers 700+ steps of clear running

Hotels

We’re not going to name the hotels you can train at in London because we don’t want them being overrun and security being tightened so much nobody can access them. There are hotels across the city you can walk into and get a few lengthy runs in without attracting much attention. You will have to ‘shop’ around a bit as some will have higher security than others, but training on hotel stairwells is a viable option.

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‘Yeah…err…i’m staying here. Yep on the top floor, that’s right.’

Offices

These are a real treasure. We have 170 steps at our office (7 floors) and with the lift right next to them it is very easy to get in a lot of stair running before or after work. If you work in a tall office block you are flying, and should make the very most of the opportunity. If like us you work in quite a small block, you will have to be creative with your routines, but it is still definitely possible to get a great workout in with only 5 or 6 floors.

Flats

If you live in a tall block of flats you are good to go. If not then ask about on Facebook to see if any of your friends will let you visit them and get in some long climbs. If neither of those options are a possibility you can sometimes access flats early in the day using the ‘Trades’ entry button. Some flats won’t have this and instead have a security desk. We find that if you are friendly enough and explain that you are training for a charity run, they will sometimes let you in. If you do manage to get access to a high-rise you also have the benefit of taking the lift down, which saves your legs and cuts down on training time.

Found some stairs, but not sure what to do now? Read our guide on stair climbing for beginners to find out some training tips and advice.

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If you haven’t put in the training you won’t be winning anything. But, fitness level aside, there are a few things to know that could give you an edge as you take part in Vertical Rush 2019.

The event, which is organised by the charity Shelter, takes place at London’s Tower 42 and is by far the most popular and well-established stair running race in the UK calendar.

In 2018 over 1,600 participants took part, and 2019 promises to be just as big, which leads us right into our first tip.

Get There Early

To facilitate the large numbers of runners, the day is split into hourly waves with the first going at 8am. Last year, Shelter introduced a night run so people set off as late as 8pm. This extended run of waves is expected to return again in 2019. From experience there is less hype and razmatazz in the morning waves, which will allow you to keep focused on the task at hand.

The later sessions have press, cameras, filmed warmups and more standing around in the early March cold. Plus the later you leave it the more hands pass along the railings and the greasier they get, which can cause your hand to slip as you pull yourself along. There also seems to be less people in the earlier waves, which leads into the second tip.

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Would Boris and his horn help keep your head in the game?

Get To The Front

Unlike at other races around the world, many UK races don’t have a designated ‘elite’ start. If you email in advance and express a desire to start at the front, it will be accepted, but you won’t always find there’s someone on hand to ensure you are brought to the front of your wave of runners.

This is certainly the case for Vertical Rush, where the people involved with registration are not the ones bringing you through to the start. So, the onus will be on you to get to the front of your wave.

At Vertical Rush the registration desk and bag drop are in a separate building to the stairs. You will be led a short walk outside between the two buildings and into a small basement type area with a central pillar. The entrance to the stairs is through a door on the right hand side as you walk into the ‘holding area’. Get in line at the entrance to the door immediately.

An organiser will give a brief talk and then point to the start line, after which a slight rush happens, as people queue up. If you are not in position, you will likely end up several dozen places back and be faced with the task of passing slower climbers on the way up.

Another reason to start at the front is the haphazard staggering of runners. At previous events, runners should have been spaced by a minimum of 5-10 seconds. This does not always happen, and it is not uncommon for the excitement to overcome some people and for them to just pour onto the stairs in groups.

If you are not at the very front, or at least in the first five, you will certainly lose precious seconds on the early floors as you weave past others and wait for the numbers to space out a bit.

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The madness of a mass start at one of the earlier Vertical Rush events.

Details About The Stairs

Knowing a bit about the stairs in a building prior to racing can be a real help, as it allows you to visualise the event a lot clearer and keep pre-race nerves to a minimum (click through if you want more details on how to handle pre-race nerves).

The stairwell at Vertical Rush is left turning and goes up in blocks of nine steps per flight. Each floor is numbered so you can keep a check on your pacing. The hand rail running along the inside of the stairwell is flat topped, which can make gripping slightly awkward, but it does curve nicely at the landings, making turns fairly smooth.

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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 is the training ground for a lot of the worlds leading climbers.

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