Posts Tagged ‘vertical rush’

Over the last few weeks we’ve been training a few people on the stairwell at the world’s tallest hospital for some of the upcoming UK stair races. During sessions we’ve been asked various questions about strength training for stair running, including how often to do it, and what sort of routines. We’ve decided to explore the question a bit further over the coming weeks.

Unfortunately, proper strength training is often overlooked by stair climbers. They assume that running sets on their favourite stairwell will be all they need to make the gains that will help them compete. Then come race day the legs give out on the championship floors and they can end up just missing a PB or slipping agonisingly out of the top 10 or 20. A simple strength training routine for stair running will help build endurance in the legs and stop them giving out too soon in a race, as well as helping to prevent injuries.

12621139-essay

Mo Farah and Galen Rupp (Olympic 10km gold and silver medalists, London 2012) decide they want to go hard and not home. Do the same!

We recommend incorporating a strength training routine twice a week and, if you have time, doing it on the same day as your stair running. This may seem counter-intuitive, but by running and strength training on the same day you leave yourself a recovery day or an easy workout day the day after. Remember, you need a rest day to help cement your strength gains and give your body a proper chance to recover and repair.

Squats and lunges are great all purpose lower body exercises, so those are great go to exercises to get started with. But, there is loads of variety when it comes to leg routines, from high-intensity goblet squat routines to more complicated exercises involving suspension ropes and balance boards. Renowned American stair climber, and head of X-Gym in Seattle, P.J. Glassey demonstrates a great routine using a suspension rope in this YouTube clip.

 

Like us on Facebook for updates on upcoming events and tower running news from the UK and around the world.

Tower 42, formerly The Natwest Tower, is a tough old building. Just short of 22 years ago it had almost every window blown out of it as the result of a large bomb planted in the area by the IRA. A few years later a fire swept through some of its upper floors. However, the sixth tallest building in the UK stands strong and remains a well known landmark in the City of London. It is also home to Vertical Rush, which is perhaps the most well-known and popular of the UK’s stair running events.

Vertical Rush is organised by the charity Shelter, which offers support to those experiencing housing problems and also campaigns for and raises awareness about this issue. It first took place in 2009, and in 2012 it was one of the key races on the Towerrunning.com calendar. As a result, that year it attracted lots of the top athletes and its course records for the men’s and women’s divisions were made that day by Thomas Dold (3:58) and Suzy Walsham (5:01).

This year it is one of the eight races on the Vertical World Circuit, so we expected it to attract some of the strongest climbers from Europe and beyond. We were not to be disappointed. It was a bright sunny day down on Bishopsgate and with close to 800 runners set to hit the steps it was pretty busy. Vertical Rush always attracts a lot of press and celebrity backing, and this year TV-presenter/architect George Clarke was taking part. Alongside him was former X Factor winner and now theatre showman Shayne Ward.

The real celebrities, however, those veterans of the unforgiving stairwells, no doubt blended in with the crowd. Their anonymity somehow remaining unmolested despite headbands, compression socks, special gloves, extensive warmups, steely gazes, ridiculously defined quads and calves and vests emblazoned with sponsors logos.

Piotr “Showtime” Lobodzinski, the current Towerrunning champion, was an obvious favourite heading into the race and he maintained his rep taking the win in 4:12. In a brief interview with the Vertical World Circuit (which you can read here) he said he was ‘a little disappointed’ as he had hoped to get closer to the course record. “Showtime” also commented, “The staircase was not comfortable for me, it was quite wide and therefore it was only possible to use the inside rail. I prefer a right-handed rail, so the left is a little disadvantage.” It certainly didn’t seem to have that much of a hinderance on his performance. Lobodzinski signed off by saying he would “now go for a 20 km run and do some sight seeing.” Come on mate, don’t take the piss. I need medical assistance to squat on the toilet after some of my races; don’t dupe the non-stair climbing public into thinking it’s easy or anything 😉

winner- lobodzinski

“Showtime” Lobodzinski tackling the 920 steps of London’s Tower 42

Hot on his tail was Fabio “Stair Charmer” Ruga, from Italy, whose PB at the event is 4:11. Unfortunately for him he couldn’t replicate that awesome time and had to settle for second place in 4:28. Taking third spot was another well known name in the stair running world, Spain’s David “El Conquistador” Robles Tapia.

Fourth place was grabbed by Ralf “The Natural” Hascher (winner at the Broadgate Tower Run Up, also in London, three days earlier) in a time of 4:44, while Britain’s pride Mark “The Marauder” Sims took an incredible 12 seconds off his PB, reaching the top in 4:49 while representing his employers Pershing. This is his second PB of the season (his first was set in Vienna in January) so Mark is showing incredible form already this year. Amazing stuff!!

In the women’s division only two elites came over for the race so it seemed all set up to be a battle between Lenka “Czech Yourself Before You Wreck Yourself” Zvabikova and the ever-present Italian, and last year’s female winner, Cristina “The Gatekeeper” Bonacina.

Svabikova took the victory in a time of 5:39. Having finished second in the final standings of last year’s Towerrunning championships this was to be expected. She is quite a force. Bonacina was to be denied second place by Anna “The Flying Consultant” McKinven who topped out in 6:18, running for the Accenture corporate team, with the Italian coming in third with a time of 6:35.

winner-lenka-svabikova

Czech Republic’s Lenka Svabikova making it look easy at Vertical Rush

winners-svabikova-lobodzinski

The day’s winners out on the roof of Tower 42

Well done to all who took part and congratulations to the winners.

Like us on Facebook for updates on upcoming events and tower running news from the UK and around the world.

* Photo copyright iancorless.com

Image

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 two 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/

Like us on Facebook for updates on results and upcoming events.