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.

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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.

 

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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 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/

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