Recently I watched a video of Usain Bolt talking about training. And how hard it is. But that the hard work no one sees is what it takes to be in top form.
(Well, duh! But it seemed more profound coming from him. Because he makes being the fastest person on the planet look tremendously easy.)
And then I was flipping through a muscle magazine from GNC. I took note of a feature they’re doing where several guys are following a strict diet and weight training program for a few months in order to be jacked for the beach or something like that. I had seen the article the first month of the feature, before any of the guys had gotten on the program. And now I saw it at now at the end of 60 days. The dudes are making progress.
Both of those things were semi-inspiring to me, as my focus right now has shifted from racing to training. Specifically stair climb training.
Of course, generally speaking, I’m always training. Always. ALWAYS.
Running season is starting, so I should be focused on racing still. But stair season is ending, so since my interest in stairs is greater than my interest in running at the moment, my mindset is naturally shifting to that of “offseason” stair training.
I still have foot races to run, though. So while my tendency would typically be to shift from in-season stair training with secondary running training to in-season running training with secondary stair training, my increased desire to improve at stairs while still wanting to run well has me wanting to try to find more of a split between running and stair training, while also increasing the intensity of both.
My next stair race will likely be in September, so that means I have a whole four months to work on my stair training! But the more I think about it, the more it feels like I have only four months to work on my stair training. I feel like I have so many things I need to do to improve my leg strength and stair climbing conditioning to get to the level I want to that I’m not sure four months will be enough time.
And, of course, I have a 5K this Sunday, one in June, and then two 1-mile races in June and July that I have goals for as well.
So, that obviously means I have to be ready to run. And I’m not sure I am. Maybe not for this weekend’s 5K, anyway. I mean, I know I’m in decent enough shape I should put up a respectable time. Doing it as fast as I hope, though? Well, not that I haven’t been running, but it’s not been as big of a focus for me as it has been previously. So we’ll see how much my lack of a running focus in favor of a stair-centric training approach of the past several months will affect my result.
I’m now about a month in to working with a new trainer at my new gym, so I’m not totally settled in with how he does things yet. But he is approaching my training as dual sport-specific training, split between stairs climbing and middle-distance running.
For both “sports,” if you will, we’re working on my form and movement efficiency. Running and stair climbing have certain in-common movements, so we’re trying to maximize my efficiency in those, which should hopefully require me to work less hard while performing.
For running, he’s putting me on a program, centered mostly on speed intervals (so far only 400 and 800 meters) with once-per-week “longer” runs of between 3 and 5 miles. For the short-/middle-distance races I run, I agree with this approach. Around the time I switched gyms and stopped working with my old trainer, I was in the process of switching over to a more traditional running program (i.e.: adding some longer, higher mileage runs, and increasing how often I run), but in how I felt before and during my last 5K in January, I’m not sure that really helped.
As for stair work, we’re doing a lot of strength work, mostly targeted at my legs and posterior chain, as that seems to be what needs the most work, according to the fitness and movement assessment I took when I started with this guy.
On my own exercise time, when I’m not doing workouts dictated by my new trainer, there are a few things I want to make sure I do throughout this stair “offseason”:
*TRX Ab Medley: That’s just what I call it. Basically, there’s a series of exercises from an ab/core class that my old trainer taught at my old gym that I regularly attended, most of which are TRX-based, that I want to keep up with to supplement the core strength work my new trainer is having me do. My core is already pretty strong, according to the fitness/movement assessment he had me do, so I’d like to keep doing what I was doing there.
*”The Best Leg Exercise Known To Man”: AKA, the PJ Glassey/XGym version of suspension lunges. Basically, TRX lunges, but tweaked to include holds and pulses, ensuring maximum pain and results. Since PJ trains elite stair climbers using this exercise, and does them himself (and climbs stairs pretty well, too), then it has to work. Plus, Stephanie’s done them with her trainer as part of her stair program. So there’s that, too.
*Incline Sprints: I’ve already been doing these, but not consistently enough. I go to one of the two steep treadmills at my gym (two of them go to an incline of 30%, while the rest only go to 15%), I crank it up to max incline, and then I run at varying speeds for varying amounts of time, depending on what I’m going for that day. People look at me like I’m crazy when I do this. More so than any of the other weird exercises I might do. Most of the people I see on those treadmills are walking, and not at an incline higher than usually around beteen 17 to 20.
*StairMaster: After a year of competing in stair climbs now, I just yesterday tried out a StairMaster (a StepMill 5, to be specific) for the very first time. Just to see what it was like. I was under the impression it was pretty much worthless for advanced stair climb training, which is what I’m going for, though I’ve heard of some competitive climbers who’ve used it. I did a 10-minute set on it in the middle of my workout and a 5-minute set at the end of my workout. It was definitely different than regular stair climbing, but it worked my calves and glutes a lot harder than regular stairs do, plus, like a treadmill, I was forced never to slow down below the pace it was set at. It was also nice to be able to simulate a climb for an extended period of time, which I’m not able to during my regular stair reps at my work building. I also tried not to use my hands as much as possible, which made it more like regular stair climbing. I definitely want to try some more things out with this machine.
Hopefully all of these things help me improve. Because improvement is what I have to do.