Wednesday, April 20, 2011

VERTICAL MARATHON, STAIR CLIMBING, TOWER RUNNING? WHATEVER...


It was a frustrating Monday morning at the lobby of the building where our office is located. At first, it looks like a queue line in a Cinema showing a blockbuster movie.  A long queue of people was waiting for the only elevator that is working during that time. I knew it; the other elevators were under repair again. The idea of taking the stairs is out of my mind, until the two guys in front of me were talking about Vertical Marathon. That was the first time I heard that such activity exist. (Look what being workaholic did), It keeps you outdated on current events (LOL). So, for me to keep updated, I do some research, which I’m going to share it with you, especially those who hate taking the stairs even though it’s just a few steps up!

Definition:

The Vertical Marathon involves three forms of running with varying demands on the cardiovascular system and the knees: road running, ramp running and stair climbing. This particular type of activity burns about twice as many calories than any other sport or activity, achieves the same intensity of a workout in less time, and strengthens the arms and builds muscle mass in the legs. Moreover, the Vertical Marathon does not require the purchase of any expensive equipment and can be done anywhere.

How do you train for [a vertical marathon]?


 "Men's Health" sponsored an event called the Urbanathlon, which was a total blast, and part of the race was to run up and down 7 World Trade Center, which is 52 flights. Obviously, the best way to train for a vertical marathon is going to be stair climbing. In addition, you need to make sure that you are also doing some strength training work in the gym -- especially for your lower body and core.


As for the actual stair climbing work, if you've never done a stair workout, I would begin by walking five flights at a comfortable pace. Use a stopwatch to time yourself and make a mental note of it. Then, take the elevator down and rest  for a total of three or four minutes, which includes the elevator ride and repeat two more times. After the workout, make sure you perform some light static lower body stretching especially the calves. Also, write down how long it took to perform each working set.

Perform this workout two to three times the first week depending on how sore you feel the day after. Over the course of the next few weeks, focus on increasing the number of flights that you climb per work set rather than the speed at which you are climbing. Try adding one flight each week to the work sets. In other words, in the second week, you'll climb six flights for each work set. 

Once you can climb 10 flights for all three sets, drop back down to five flights and increase the speed of your ascent for each set. Work your way back up to 10 flights and repeat the process. After you can do three sets of 10 flights, try testing yourself and go for the entire 28 flights in one shot. Write down your time. 

Then, perform to two sets of 15 flights as my new starting point and follow the same progression system as above until you work up to 20 flights per work set. After you are able to perform two sets of 20 flights, try doing the entire 28 flights again, you should notice a significant decrease in your time from the first time you tested yourself.
Whew!!! What a training!!
If you are really serious about trying the Vertical Marathon, check this out!

10 tips for running a vertical marathon

By SHANG LEE | Published: 

I’m no expert in horizontal running, and definitely not in running vertically. I have tried running up the stairs to pick up the forgotten umbrella, but I certainly have not tried running 73 storeys (all 1336 steps) at one go! Enrolling into a vertical marathon was entirely by chance. Ok, peer pressure had something to do with it, peppered with a touch of curiosty. I signed up for this vertical marathonmore than a month ago, but only took the race seriously on the last week before the race.
It was a bit too late to build up the leg muscles, so I was hoping that my tai ji practice will not fail my legs (see how Tai Chi helps in building strong legs here)! The last week of “training” was more focused to find any technique I could use to run up the stairs with less effort. So here are some of the tips which I hope you might find useful.

 

1. Try it out!

You’ve got to try it out to find out what you’re getting yourself into! I have to say I’ve tried it out too late, but my legs were holding up, so that was quite a consolation.

2. Finding a tall building

It might be difficult to find a 73 storey building. The Swiss hotel is the highest in South East Asia! But you don’t have to find a tall building. Just do repetitions. Say you found a 12 storey building, just do it 6 times. Or for a 25 storey building, do it 3 times etc. The key is still No. 1, you’ve got to try it! Doing 6 storey only is not enough.

3. Pit stops

If, like most of us, you can’t find a 73 storey building, you will be faced with pit stops – times when you need to go down those floors that you have climbed up. These pit stops are actually really useful breathers! Gives the legs some rest as well. As with formula ones races, you can actually optimise the number of pit stops and where you choose to stop, so that you get just sufficient rest but still able to climb all the way to the 73rd floor in good time.

4. Upper body vs lower body

For vertical marathons, having a higher proportion of weight in the upper body does help the upward momentum. Failing to change weight proportions in a short period of time, chi running offers some useful guide. It proposes an upward swing of the arms, sort of like (almost!) punching your chin. But to get that right, you’ve got to time it well with your upward momentum as well, which leads to…

 

5. Rhythm

Get the rhythm right, and your run will be more effortless. Make sure the upward momentum of your arm swing coincides with the upward momentum created by your legs. This is the whole body movement that tai ji is trying to teach as well.

6.Pull those railings!

Use the environment. If you can time your upward lift by pulling yourself using the railings, you will diversify the use of your muscles from legs to arms, that is if your arm is strong enough!

7. Reduce weight

The lighter you are, theoretically there’s less weight to lug around. Of course, you do need those heavy muscles to bring you up, so there should be an optimum point of muscles to weight ratio. I didn’t have time (or can’t be bothered!) to do this.

8. Drink/eat before the race

You will need something to eat to give you enough energy to reach the top. Not too much so that you’ll throw up! A banana or 2 should be more than sufficient. You’ll also need some fluids. Again not too much such that you have water swimming around in your tummy! Just be sensible. (I found out the hard way. Too much food, and too little water. Made me wanted to puke and gave me a headache…)

9. During the race

Forget everything and just have fun!

10. After the race

Collapse on the floor, enjoy the view, take some pictures, make some friends. Congratulate each other. You might not want to hug each other, but some handshakes will go down well. And finally, take the lift down to ground floor. Or the helicopter if you’re lucky enough!

For additional info, I found this article which best describe the modern Vertical Running:

Stair running: Towers of torment

The latest trend in endurance running takes athletes right to the top floor.


Pain barrier: a racer heads up 38 flights to the top of London's Gherkin building 

 7:00AM GMT 10 Feb 2010

Millionaire businessman Duncan Bannatyne is arguably the fiercest beast lurking in television's Dragons' Den. But the 60-year-old entrepreneur is facing a challenge this month that could bring him to his knees.
He is joining the growing number of athletes, runners and joggers worldwide who get to the top of skyscrapers the hard way – by running up the stairs. In Bannatyne's case, that means attacking the 920 steps of Tower 42, the tallest building in the City of London, to a daunting height of 183 metres in less than 15 minutes – if he's lucky. Or he may collapse in a heaving mass halfway up.

Tower running is one of the toughest new sports to capture the imagination of fitness addicts all over the world. Now beginning to take off in Britain, it's physically incredibly hard, fiercely competitive and visually amazing, given that it's played out within constructions such as New York's Empire State Building, Taiwan's enormous Taipei 101 Tower and the huge Sydney Tower in Australia.
The sport started to emerge in London last year, when Bannatyne joined 600 runners who headed to the top of the City's Tower 42 in a race organised for the homeless charity, Shelter. Now the energetic tycoon is making a second assault, this time with a hugely increased field of 1,200 contestants – a sign of the sport's growing popularity.
"I'd never run up 42 flights before and didn't think I could do it last time," says the Dragon. "I started off at the run, but after what I thought were three or four floors I realised I was still only on the first floor. After four floors I couldn't run any more, I had to slow down."


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21 Feb 2011

But though it was "one of the most physical things I have ever done," Bannatyne eventually reached the top in a burst of elation powerful enough to bring him back for this month's re-run, again for Shelter. "I'd like to do more tower running," he says.
Worldwide opportunities for the sport are growing fast. Lauri van Houten of the International Skyrunning Federation says that the newly-formed Italian-based organisation is promoting nine major skyscraper races this year in a demanding world cup series involving Berlin, New York, Milan, Barcelona, Singapore and London's "Gherkin" building. Beyond this, there are "hundreds of races worldwide", says van Houten, with a growing number of websites urging ambitious joggers to test themselves far, wide and high.
Many are eager to take part, lured by the glamour of visiting beautiful buildings in exotic cities, but also by the enormous personal satisfaction that running up stairs at such heights can bring.
The average 11-stone human will burn 704 calories an hour running on the flat. Racing upstairs increases that rate by about 50 per cent. And the pain is considerable.
Martin Cox, a Bath-based international-standard mountain runner, has completed four international tower runs, including Malaysia's 421-metre Milad Tower and Auckland's 328-metre Sky Tower. "It's incredibly tough," he says. "Most people can't run one flight. I've run 80 and it's one of the hardest things I've ever done. You get this incredibly quick build-up of lactic acid but you have to keep going, two steps at a time in this hot little tube, because it's always in a stairwell. It's very intense."
A mass start means a tough opening phase, as runners jostle for early advantage. After that, trying to pass rivals on stairs demands bursts of energy that can leave runners gasping and helpless.
It's perhaps surprising that amateurs are happy to join in, but Polly Gunning, 32, an "averagely fit" human resources manager from Milton Keynes is one of those currently training for this month's Tower 42 race. "One of my New Year's resolutions was to get fit, so this is my attempt," she says.
She has been training by doing what most of us should be thinking about doing anyway: running upstairs. Martin Cox reckons that it is not a bad habit to get into, especially nowadays. "We're living in an increasingly obese society because people aren't exercising," he says. "People should take the stairs. They're a serious bit of equipment." And an unusually healthy way of getting to the top in the City.

HITTING THE HEIGHTS

 

To summarize it all, this is what Vertical Running is all about:


Vertical Running is an original new sports discipline that is capturing the imagination of the public and press across the globe.


The world’s tallest skyscrapers and towers are the scenario for this fast-growing sport where thousands of amateur athletes and top international specialists can race up 100 flights of stairs in just a handful of minutes. These ascents are not new, but only now has a coordinated race circuit together with an intriguing research project become a reality under the auspices of a sports federation.

Scientific research conducted by the International Skyrunning Federation plays an important role in this exhilarating new vertical sport by casting light on these extraordinary athletic performances. This exclusive data will not only be used to optimize stair running, but has generated Vertical Fitness, health and wellness project involving stair climbing to benefit a less active public.
The Vertical World Circuit, promoted by Vista Communicazione, comprises a selection of some of the most prestigious skyscraper races worldwide in a new, spectacular sports arena - right in the heart of the city.

What:

Vertical Running is all about incredible performances consumed in only a matter of minutes on skyscrapers familiar to most of us. Now, a circuit unites these spectacular races

Where:

National boundaries don't confine this sport. The world's tallest buildings are the only arena

Who:

A fast growing number of specialists is emerging, but runners from all levels are turning to the thrill of vertical running to test their limits to the full 

Why:

No pavement pounding. No dusty trails. Right in the heart of the city the top of the world is just a staircase away

Now, gear up, get started, and make that first step towards the top!!! See you there!

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