www.Hypersmash.com The sufferfest that is tower running...

vrijdag 17 mei 2013

The sufferfest that is tower running...

Tower running is hard, unbelievably hard. I did a race last night, my first tower running race in 14 years and all the pain from that event come flooding back last night.

At the start I had a strategy all worked out. I was going to take the first 10 floors easy, then ramp it up in the next 10 and then sprint the final 14.

Unfortunately I fell victim to the novice mistake of starting too fast and by floor 8 I was suffering like a dog, I still had 26 floors, 520 steps, to go.

My legs were the first to go. The lactic acid build up happened so fast and was so relentless that I couldn't push through it and in the stairwell there's no opportunity to ease off. There's no option of getting a rest on a downhill section. If you blow up on the stairs there's no respite, you just need to grit your teeth, curse and drag your half dead ass to the top.

So that's what I did. The longest 3 minutes of my life.

After the legs the lungs were next. Controlled breathing wasn't an option. Gasping for air was the best I could do.

And then after that the brain seemed to take over and start shutting down. The pain in my legs and lungs subsided at that point but it didn't do my speed any good, by that stage it was all I could manage to keep on moving up the stair well. And then it was over, I'd reached the top of the building.

It was 20 meter run from the top of the stairs to the finish line but I was in no state to run this. I hobbled across the finish line and sat down. And stayed there. For about 20 minutes.

But for all that pain and suffering I loved it. It's one of the ultimate tests of physical fitness you can do. There's no variables with the weather or with gear. It's just you versus the stairwell. And to push yourself that hard does feel good in some strange way. Or maybe I'm just a masochist :-)

Sitting on the train on the way home last night I reflected about how I can improve for the next event. Here's what I reckon:

1) Lose weight

The race last night had a vertical gain of something like 150 metres. Dragging a beer gut up that height does not make things easy. Losing weight is the biggest improvement I could make. I had been doing well with the weight loss but a recent holiday to New Zealand (with the obligatory pies and beers whilst I was there) put a few kilos back on so I've definitely got 10kg or so to lose.

2) Practice on the stairs
I had done a bit of this beforehand but only a few time and I didn't have the experience to pace myself properly. I need to get into that stair well at least once a week.

3) Build endurance through running

Back in the late '90's I was doing a lot of running and that fitness from that gave the endurance to do really well in tower running. I missed that endurance last night.

4) Learn to suffer more

The best tower runners can push through the pain, push through and keep on running. There was no way I could do that last night. It'll take time and conditioning to get there but being able to endure the pain and push through it is crucial.

5) Do some more races
I loved it and luckily there are coming more and more new race each year.

I'm sure keen to try some more race. My time was 4 minutes 37 seconds which placed me 15th overall (out of 130 runners). I reckon in a years time I could go more than a minute faster. I'm looking forward to the journey to see if that's possible....

Race report card

After each race I do I want to grade my performance on a number of criteria (A+ = Great through to D- = abysmal). Here's the report for the 2013 Almere WTC run up:
- Feeling prior to race: A- (felt good, lots of energy, a bit nervous but that's to be expected).

- Strategy: B (Strategy was to run first 10 floors easy(ish), next 10 all out and survive the last 10. Strategy was good but I didn't have the fitness to execute it).

- Execution of strategy D (I took off too fast and was buggered by the time I got to the 10th floor. From then on it was a matter of survival and strategy didn't come into it. In hindsight I could have walked a few flights slowly to recover but I think that would have led to a slower overall time. I should have gone out much slower.

- Overall feeling C - I did a reasonable time (4 mins 35 seconds) but really feel that with better conditioning, more time training on the stairs, not going out hard and with losing a bit of weight I could go at least a minute faster. So that is really motivating to see what improvements I can make over the coming year.

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