Vertical Training vs. Horizontal Training

It's Mental

Glassey describes why mental fitness is required to stair climb, "Once you introduce vertical training into your system, it is a shock, but the more you work into it, you become stronger physically and mentally."

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When you participate in a stair climb, your times improve year after year if you train at least three months in advance, and keep up a strong training regimen the rest of the year. "Even for incredible athletes it takes some time to gain the mental will to finish. For normal people, it may take a few years, especially if they have been running or doing mostly horizontal workouts," says Glassey.

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Anyone Can Stair Climb

82-year-old Shirley Lansing has climbed The Big Climb three times. "I have been working out with P.J. for years and he has this concept of doing two 20-minute workouts a week and we climb a building on Saturdays. Everyone thinks it's really hard, but it's more tenacity, and for me, it is a controlled atmosphere so it is very hard to hurt yourself."

There are two types of climbers: those who compete and those who climb for recreation. Either way, the mantra is: if you can walk a 5K, you can climb a building, as long as you have your doctor's permission. It's absolutely fine to take your time and climb at your own pace.

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Glassey trained Palac for his first climb via email. "I did the Willis Tower race and it was fun. I had an okay time and placed in the top 100, but I didn't know how to train. P.J. formulated a training plan for my next tower climb, which was Hustle up the Hancock. I felt like I was improving and that I was ready to race."

Of the training process Glassey says, "The cardio comes fast if you are willing to do full fatigue interval style training. Then you have to work on strength and mental endurance to get your muscles and your mind ready to push through when your legs think they're done and your body is screaming from every cell to stop or slow down."

Lansing says, "If I weren't doing stair training with P.J. and stair climb races, I would be a couch potato."

More: Stair Running: A Climb to the Peak of Fitness 

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