Sunday, May 2, 2010

A New Way To Run!

Not just in Canada but world wide, stair climbing events (also known as tower running and vertical racing) are becoming increasingly popular. Who participates in these events? Why do they do them? This article fills you in on how to find a stairclimbing event near you and how to train for one.

Feel the burn:
Even notice at the gym that the treadmills and ellipticals fill up faster than the stair machines. There is good reason for it. Climbing stairs is harder. For every minute that I walk at 4.0 mph I burn 6.8 calories where as I burn 8.8 calories on the stairs. That may not sound like a big difference but the effort expended stair climbing is greater and burns the calories. Stair climbing targets the body's large muscles such as the glutes and quads. The more muscle you have the more calories you can burn. Stair climbing is a great way to get in shape and lose weight.

Who me?
Almost anyone can participate in stair climbing events. Most events do have a minimum age limit. Often that is 18 years old. As long as you are in reasonably decent physical health you can sign up for a stair climbing event. The events have staggered start times and begin the race with the elite athletes first. The amateur athletes are then allowed to begin in intervals.

Why stairs?

Sure it is great exercise but why stair climbing events? It isn't another 5k. Runners like the challenge of stairs and people who want to join an event but don't want to do so when it is cold outside enjoy the same feeling and excitement.
Tower running is blossoming because it is a great fundraising opportunity. The American Lung Association hosts several stair climbing events and there are many other events that support great causes such as blood cancer and Muscular Dystrophy. Some events encourage participants to solicit pledges but this is not always necessary and often your entry or registration fee is all that is required. Speaking of registration fees often they can be reduced or waived if a person volunteers for the event as well. Setting up for the event the night before or helping to fill swag bags (goody bags at vertical races often include t shirts, water bottles or towels) is a great way to get involved, meet new people and save some money too.

Many of the tower running events are over thirty stories so unless you are already very athletic you are going to need to train for it. Access to the stairwells of tall buildings can be a challenge due to security measures so until the day of the race you may not be able to run up forty flights for practice so here are some training tips to help prepare you. In your own house, nearby apartment complex or even a hotel often you can find access to one or two flights of stairs and that is all you need. Begin by climbing the stairs without any weight the first week. Put in as many flights as you can without over doing it. Do this twice a week. Each week add dumb bells. First week hold a two or five pound dumb bell in each hand and walk up as many flights of stairs as you did the previous week. Increase the weight each week until you get to approximately fifteen or twenty pounds then keep the weight the same and increase the number of flights you walk up until you are walking up the same amount of flights that your event will have. On the other days your work out should include strength training and low impact cardio such as elliptical machine or swimming.

Find a stair climbing event :
Sometimes it takes a bit of searching to locate a stair climbing event since it isn't as popular yet as 5ks or marathons. There are a great many events out there and I have found some in almost every state. Your local newspaper and gym bulletin boards are a great place to start looking and online there are a couple websites such as and which have vertical races but are not a complete list. Search the internet using the name of your state and stair climbing as search terms and you will be surprised how many turn up. Sign up for a race and let me know how you did. Good luck!

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