Training For Staircase Running

BY Hal Higdon

If you can manage to include some stair/hill workouts two or three days a week, you will be well served leading into your race.

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I am a runner from India. I religiously follow your posts and have been running half marathons regularly. This year I will be running my first full marathon in August, and before that I have a Staircase Challenge coming in June for which I have no clue how to prepare. I even tried Google, but found no useful information on staircase training. I know you are totally into marathons, but if you can just advise me on how to train for this race, it would be great.


This is going to be an example of the blind leading the blind. Although a good friend of mine, Joe Kinney, was one of Indiana’s top staircase runners a decade or more ago, I haven’t seen him recently otherwise Joe probably could offer both of us advice. I would think, however, that any program that offers speedwork would allow you to substitute stair workouts. The three speed workouts that I prescribe in my advanced programs are: 1) tempo runs; 2) interval training, and 3) hill repeats. Obviously, hill repeats would offer a good match. This is where you sprint up a hill for a quarter mile or so, then turn and jog back down, repeating as many times as the schedule prescribes. Combine that with stair or staircase repeats in place of interval training on the track. I don’t know if they have runnable stadium stairs in India. (For cricket matches?) Maybe run stairwells, although once reaching the top I would take the elevator back to the bottom. This would allow you to avoid the pounding you might encounter on the descent.

Other than that, I wish I had Joe Kinney to help us. My feeling is that if you can manage to include some stair/hill workouts two or three days a week, you will be well served leading into your race. After you finish, chat with the winner and ask him how he trains for such an unusual event.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.