Running over skyscrapers to get to the sky

The idea of training on flights of stairs wasn’t exactly top of the list for training sessions for running enthusiasts or even cardio training specialists until recently. Today, training methods and sports disciplines have changed the outlook, thanks to the arrival of technologically advanced stair climbers that are more engaging in fitness centres. Outside of the fitness centre, the success of new outdoor sports such as tower running is giving new life to stair training.
This sport’s growing popularity is based on the benefits it brings to the body for both professionals and amateurs. Those who practice this discipline probably know that running up stairs puts the cardiovascular system back into shape faster than normal jogging. Moreover, in stair climbing, the heart improves its activity thanks to the greater amount of blood that is pushed into the circulatory system and consequently the greater amount of oxygen that circulates in the body. Tower running in particular allows people to experience the beauty of the ascent to the top of the most beautiful skyscrapers in the world and the chance to benefit from the proven effectiveness of this type of cardio training. Running the stairs is in fact a high-intensity activity, it burns more calories than classic jogging in a shorter amount of time.
But what is tower running? What are the most beautiful vertical marathons that are run all over the world? Which areas of the body are worked in tower running? What are the benefits? What are the best products for indoor and outdoor training?

Tower running, what is it and how did running up stairs gain popularity?

Tower running is a race on the stairs of the highest man-made buildings such as skyscrapers. Usually the races take place on the internal stairs of the skyscrapers, but the term can cover any race on foot involving a path that climbs up to an artificial structure. In 1905 the first known tower running activity was held on the Eiffel Tower, with the aim of competing between champions and athletes of different sporting traditions: runners, cyclists, footballers and amateurs, were all present among the 283 people who participated in the first tower run.
Today the tower running competitions are different and take place in many of the world's tallest skyscrapers, including the Taipei 101 (Taipei), Menara Tower (Kuala Lumpur), the Willis Tower (Chicago) or the Empire State Building in New York. The races take place in the form of a stopwatch or mass start and attract elite athletes from various sports, often with sums of money up for grabs.

The best tower runners in the world compete every year in the Vertical World Circuit, a circuit of races that has a high standard of competitors from different international sporting backgrounds. The Tower running World Association (TWA) allows the best vertical runners from around the world to register and earn points for the final ranking.

6 things to know about tower running

There are many benefits to tower running and, more generally, training on a stair climber. Let's see some of them:

  1. According to Sciencedaily, climbing stairs using the interval training method is one of the best cardio workouts for reducing body fat and burning calories.
  2. Running on stairs, cardiologists and coaches say, is an effective way to condition your legs, core and gluteus.
  3. An Harvard study showed that sedentary people are 33% more likely to have a heart attack than those who climb only 8 flights of stairs a day.
  4. Moreover, Journal of Sports Medicine has shown that women who climb stairs increase their "maximum aerobic capacity (VO2 max) by 17.1%.
  5. To repeat the activity downhill the body has to redouble his balancing efforts when descending the stairs, so this also uses a different group of muscles.
  6. The impact on the limbs is lower than that of running so it is an excellent alternative for those who have suffered injuries to the joints or are trying to increase their strength and their physical fitness upon returning from an injury.

The main towers for running

As an international sport, iconic buildings such as the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower host several events every year that offer competitors the chance to climb hundreds of flights of stairs of iconic buildings in a race upwards to enjoy the incredible view from the top of the skyscraper. According to the runners themselves, the beauty of tower running lies in being able to say that they have climbed a skyscraper like the Empire State building running and when competed by running up the stairs it has a sweeter taste of success, almost as if you conquered the top of a mountain.

If the Vertical World Circuit is held every year in some iconic skyscrapers, other skyscrapers are also climbed annually by tower runners: the routes of the tower marathons change not so much in terms of the length of the path itself but according to the size of the steps, the height of the skyscraper itself, the type of ramps and stairs.

Torre Isozaki

The Isozaki Tower or Allianz Tower is a skyscraper designed by the Japanese architect Arata Isozaki and the Italian architect Andrea Maffei located in the city of Milan. At 247 metres high, it is the tallest building in Italy. The Allianz Vertical Run runs along the stairs of the skyscraper, involving 450 athletes in the race. With 1027 steps, 49 floors and 200.67 metres of elevation gain, it is certainly the most challenging tower run of its category in Italy.

Tower 42

With its 42 floors, 932 steps, the Vertical Rush is an annual charity race held at Tower 42 in London. Located in the heart of the City, Tower 42 was designed by the architect Richard Seifert. Built in the 1970s and inaugurated in 1980, the building cost £72 million at the time.

Abeno Harukas

The Abeno Harukas (あべのハルカス) is the tallest residential building in Osaka and Japan. It is located in the Abeno-ku district. Its name comes from the archaic Japanese word harukasu (晴るかす), which means "to illuminate". Every year it hosts a vertical marathon of 59 floors and 1610 steps.

Swissotel Stamford

The Swissotel Stamford Singapore is Singapore's tallest building and every year operates a 73-storey tower run of the skyscraper to land in the beautiful rooftop with views of Singapore's beaches.

How to training on the stairs

To best prepare for a vertical marathon, or simply train with stair climbing, the easiest option is to use what you have available: the stairs of the house or those of an apartment block could become - if allowed - a perfect training field. Training with stairs or steps is not only a prerogative of athletes who register for vertical marathons. The sprints on the steps or the jumps on the steps will activate all the muscle chains of the race and specifically will develop the muscles of push and pull: the first group includes all those exercises that are connected with jumps.

Because of the nature of climbing and descending stairs, tower running is healthy for the knees and ankles.

The jumps on even footing on the steps or those on the steps starting from a squat position feed the thrust and extension of the lower limbs. The calves and quadriceps will be the first muscles to be affected by these sessions. The second group, i.e. the booster muscles, includes sprints on about twenty steps and extensions on the ramp, maintaining a wide stride, like two steps at a time. Athletes and sportsmen often use the stairs of a stadium for training. You can do scale exercises using the stairs to help you develop your fitness and control your weight.

Technogym Excite Climb

Due to the ascending and descending nature of stairs, tower running is healthy for your knees and ankles. A compact and cutting-edge solution for cardio training is the Excite Climb, the Technogym stair climber that suits the needs of experienced users but is also simple for beginners. An innovative and safe smart equipment thanks to the innovetion it contains like the courtesy step, for a safety beginning of exercise. Excite Climb offers selectable content thanks to Unity 3.0 technology and is equipped with HD display to live engaging training experiences. You can connect via Wi-Fi and Bluetooth by monitoring and saving your training data, keeping track of your progress on your mywellness account.

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