Meet the Elite Women Stair Climbers, Pt.1

Kristin Frey in hot pink, #108

Kristin Frey, 28—Schaumburg, Illinois: 2012 Towerrunning World Cup Ranking—First Place

Environmental consultant, Kristin Frey, who works for Arcadis in Schaumburg, has always competed in races from running 5Ks to marathons to duathlons to stair climbing. Frey is tiny in stature, but fierce in competition as evidenced by her statistics.

MoreIntro to Stair Climbing

Running dozens of races, Frey has consistently placed in the top fourth of her age group and her PR times keep improving. Distance running races are in her stair climbing off-season.

"I love distance running; the longer the better. I usually competed in three to four marathons a year and always ended up injured, and that is kind of how I did my first stair climbing race," says Frey.

"My best friend and coach, Brady Renshaw, had climbed some towers and wanted me to join his corporate team in the 2010 Hustle up the Hancock race. I'm a cardio junkie so I said yes," Frey describes.

MoreVertical Training vs. Horizontal Training

The Hancock race is a tough one with 94 floors, 1,632 steps and an elevation gain of 1,030 feet, yet Frey placed eighth overall for women. She explains, "I didn't really push myself and I didn't have a clear stairwell, so I knew I could do better. But what I did know is that I loved the sport."

Following a few more stair climb races in 2010 and after she garnered seven medals, Frey discovered she ranked third in the Towerrunning World Cup. "I didn't really know this ranking system existed and when I saw my name with these international competitors I was really surprised."

Frey was completely hooked on stair climb races and by 2011 she doubled the number of competitions while continuing to place in the top three. "Even though I was winning races, I didn't have a sponsor until this year when Arcadis, Vibram fivefingers, West Coast Labels and XGym sponsored me. With the money I was able to race earlier this year in Sao Paulo and now I will be racing in Switzerland, Taipei and Milan. Stair climb races are really big internationally and have been for years."

MoreStair Workouts for Endurance Athletes

The vertical challenges of running stairs have helped Frey with running races. "My legs have gotten a lot stronger and while it is using a different range of motion it has definitely helped me be a faster runner. The reverse is not true though, just because you are a great runner or cyclist doesn't mean it will translate to being good at climbing stairs."

Frey's Ddvice to Stair Climbers:

  • Take the stairs whenever you can instead of the elevator or escalator.
  • Ease into the stair training by running up five floors and then increase your time in the stairwell.
  • Work on staying mentally focused.
  • Try short intense workouts in the gym either on a bike or treadmill.
  • Good stair climbers incorporate a lot of cycling and mountain running into their training routing to get better results.
  • Once you've increased your time on the stairwell, climb by two steps.

More: Your 7-Day Stair Climbing Workout Plan

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About the Author

Kathy Smith

Kathy Smith is a freelance writer, who has been published in many local Denver magazines and was nationally published in Her Sport. She has a keen interest in writing about athletics. She is a chef, mother of four and a fitness enthusiast. She recently picked up stair climb races as her new favorite sport, and while she isn't the fastest, she is passionate about competing in more races and getting better times.

Kathy Smith is a freelance writer, who has been published in many local Denver magazines and was nationally published in Her Sport. She has a keen interest in writing about athletics. She is a chef, mother of four and a fitness enthusiast. She recently picked up stair climb races as her new favorite sport, and while she isn't the fastest, she is passionate about competing in more races and getting better times.

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