This week's tip:

Speed Up Your Feet With Stair Running

An off-skate workout that builds your foot speed

By Jake Sawyer

Stair running the Incline Trail

US World Team members run up the steps of the mile-long Incline Trail in Colorado.
photo: Linda Wood

As a professional inline speed skater, I have found that training off skates is just as important as on.

Like many racers, I devote some of my workouts to cycling. But another thing I find useful is stair running, literally running up and down long flights of stairs.

Stair running gives me a great cardio workout and builds my fast-twitch muscles, making me a better sprinter.

Not only that but it gives me a nice break from my usual routine.

That said, here's my guide to stair running:

1) Find the right steps.

Not all stairs work well for stair running. Find stairs that aren't too steep or shallow. My team uses the stairs at the local high school's stadium. The stairs have 40 steps, which is a good number. And there are several stairways, which allows several of us to run up and down at the same time without getting in each others way.

2) Wear the right shoes.

The right shoes are a must. Without well-padded gym shoes, stair running puts too much pressure on your shins, causing shin splints. (I learned this the hard way.)

3) Run up the stairs.

Run up the stars on the balls of your feet. The balls are padded portion between the toes and the arch. Don't run on your heels or flat-footed. Doing so causes shin splints and can lead to ankle injuries.

4) Walk down the stairs.

When you reach the top, immediately turn around and walk back down. After the effort of ascending, this is your recovery phase. Later, if you want to make it tougher on yourself, you can run up and down before resting.

5) Repeat.

Start with three repetitions: three times up, three times down. Gradually increase the number of reps, along with your foot speed.

6) Wind down.

After you've finished your main repetitions, do two more at an easy pace. This is your cool down.

7) Make stair running a regular part of your training.

Get out on the stairs two or three times a week. That's what I do.

8) Stuff to bring:

Pack your bag with some liquids to stave off dehydration and a towel to wipe your brow. A music player can make it more fun.


Jake SawyerJake Sawyer has been a member of several of North America's top inline racing teams. He has numerous top finishes in outdoor marathons and criteriums and won the 2007 Silver Strand Inline Marathon. He works for, an online streaming video company.

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