Getting It Done - Stair Running

Q: How do you train for the relentless climbing of a race such as the ETR when you live in a city, generally surrounded by flat landscape?

A: You spend your lunchtime ascending and descending the fire escape of one of the tallest buildings in Liverpool. 

Since January when I first contemplated tackling the ETR, I have been giving stair running a go, taking on 16 stories of the office block I've worked in Liverpool during my lunch hour. After moving office last week, I just thought i'd reflect on what I learnt in trying to incorporate some form of specific training.... and generally torturing myself!

So... Is it fun?... No
Do you get a good view? No
Do other building users think your mental? Probably
Does it hurt? Yes
Is it specific? Ish

20 Chapel Street gave me 16 stories to climb with each rep approximately 61.6m (202ft) of ascent (I measured the treads and counted the steps to calculate the floor to floor like any good architectural designer would). It takes approximately 2:10 to run to the top, and 2:40 to descend. 

The first time I tried running the stairs I managed 6 reps. The lactate build after 2 minutes of climbing was crazy, and I'm sure I was working in V02 Max HR zone from the 7th floor upwards. After the session my legs were shaking and it felt like the ground was moving under me for a good 10 minutes!

Along with a colleague I roped in, we began stair running once a week, running 8 reps of the 16 stories in the hour. That equates to 128 stories and approximately 492.8m (1616ft) of ascent in 40 minutes.

I've since worn a STRYD power meter which coach Danielle Trinca lent me as I was intrigued to find out what my power output was while stair running in comparison to other sessions. Below are 2 Graphs comparing the power output from a 1  minute Sprint Interval on the flat and a 2 minute Stair Climb of 16 Stories

1 Minute Sprint Interval From MT Sprint Session

1 Minute Sprint Interval From MT Sprint Session

1x 16 Stories Stair Climb of 2 Minutes

1x 16 Stories Stair Climb of 2 Minutes

You can see the average power output required to climb the stairs over the 2 Minute effort is 15 Watts higher than the output of a 1 Minute Sprint effort on the flat!

During the ETR I do not expect to be running any of the steep inclines i'll be facing in the Himalayas. Tackling 2km vertical of vertical ascent without rest, at altitude, carrying gear, and then repeating the process over 6 days will require all my focus to be on efficiency. However, building the strength and aerobic fitness required to climb will pay dividends. I'm certain I have benefited from these sessions, and I'm sure it's the additional leg strength and conditioning that enabled me to maintain my form and pace in the latter stages of the London Marathon.

Having sadly moved office last week, I will be on the hunt for a new building to climb in Manchester to keep up my training . If anyone works in a tall building and can help me out, let me know!

In the meantime, please don't forget to sponsor me using the link below. All proceeds to two great charities, and as a little reward, I will be proudly carrying the names of all donors on my race jersey.

Many Thanks


Paul Martin