For the second time, on Sep. 15 Hanoi’s Landmark 72 — known locally as Keangnam Tower — will host one of the stages in the Vertical World Circuit, where competitors run to the top of the building using the fire escape instead of the elevator. Suzy Walsham and Thomas Dold are sitting high up in the VWC rankings and they spoke to Word, to give us some advice on how to prepare.
Some have likened the ascent to a marathon squeezed into between 10 and 30 minutes of intense performance. Strong legs and all round fitness are essential to cope with the extreme buildup of lactic acid. Walsham says although vertical running may not be categorised as an ultra endurance event, “it certainly does feel like [it]”.
She adds: “When every muscle in your body is screaming to stop and your heart feels like it’s going to burst out of your chest, you have to stay strong mentally and try to push the pain out of your mind.”
Dold agrees with this assessment, believing also that vertical running is a sport fit for the 21st century. “Cities are expanding,” he explains, “and so are the amount of skyscrapers — every week there are new possibilities for vertical running and less possibilities for flat running.”
“I think there will be many more vertical races in the [coming] years,” he continues. “But most important is, that people use the stairs for their daily training, to be fit and healthy in a society that sits and works on a computer more and more. So it [is] absolutely recommended to use the stairs, not the elevator or escalators.”
Training and Preparation
So how do you train for such an event in a country where it’s not the heat but the humidity that will kill you, and in cities where the biggest hill is a slope going down into an underground car park? This is a summary of the pair’s advice.
Humidity. Get out early, before 6am if you can, and drink plenty of water whilst training to cool your body and replace the liquid lost in sweat. Don’t drink too much alcohol before training.
Hill Training. Find an office block, multi-storey car park or apartment building to recreate the stairs. Failing that, use the cross trainer at the gym. Don’t like gyms? Fine, have it your way, use the stairs in your office, apartment or house. You can also try squat jumps and bounds to build power.
Recovery. Always have an isotonic drink (a drink consisting of salt, sugar and electrolytes — make your own by mixing rehydration salts from the pharmacy with water) after training to refuel and eat plenty of carbs in the meal after a session. Getting massages is an affordable way to aid recovery. Stretching after training is essential to avoid injuries.
Regime. Two stair sessions per week, increasing the number climbed in the weeks running up to the event. Complete your last stair session four days before the event. Combine this with one to two short duration (30mins), high intensity cardio sessions per week, through running, cycling or using a cross trainer at the gym. Take it easy in your last week, keeping up the intensity but decreasing the volume.
Diet. There’s no need to drastically change your diet but avoid alcohol. Nuts, fresh fruit and vegetables all help. Avoid spicy food and heavy sauces 48 hours before the event. Eat some carbs the night before the event but not too much protein. It’s really important to keep your body hydrated so drink plenty of water.
Tips for the Race. Eat a sports bar or banana a couple of hours before the event. Wear comfortable, lightweight, non-synthetic clothing that you’ve trained in before. Music is a good way to help keep a pace. Most of all, run your own race and stick with a pace that is sustainable. — Marc Forster-Pert