A colossal 1,504 gruelling steps stand between you and the observation deck of the Sydney Tower Eye. It’s the biggest vertical challenge you’ve faced since trying to stand up as a toddler and Men’s Health is here to help.
The most of us find a flight of stairs a sickening, draining chore that instantly burns lactic acid into our calves and thighs – Mark Bourne lives for the rhythmic pitter-patter of stair climbing. The 2013, 2014 and 2015 tower run victor knows a thing or two about making it to the top.
Bourne has conquered a long list of big-ass buildings across the world, 30 to be exact, including the Eureka Tower in Melbourne, Gold Coast’s Q1 Tower and the Empire State Building in New York. He aims to shave 11 seconds of his best time and dip under the seven-minute mark while the rest of us huff and puff behind reaching the summit in 15-25 minutes.
Here are nine key tips from the tower running expert.
1. Stick To Your guns
“You definitely don’t want to be training the day before the race,” says Thorne. “I might do a light jog two days before, but it won't be anything strenuous.
“Have confidence in your preparation and don’t introduce new things into your training routine.”
2. Keep It Short
“Some 10 or 20 metre sprints at about 75 per cent would be a good warm-up. If you can find a small single stairwell to run up then that will also get the blood pumping around your body.”
3. Think Light
“It’s not like a marathon so you don’t need to go carb loading. The worse thing you could do is fill yourself up to the point of feeling sick.
“It’s a personal preference but I also have a good hit of caffeine in the morning.”
4. Be Patient
“You’re going to be tempted to race off as quickly as you can, but you need to take it steady. Start off conservatively with a pace that you think you can maintain.
“And don’t worry if you find yourself running parts of the race and walking other bits, it’s bound to happen.
"The lactic acid will build up and burn deep in your legs, if you have to slow down then just do it. Walking intensely for a few flights will serve you better than trying to run through a pain that you can’t shake.”
5. Two Step
“Make use of the railing, it can assist you when you’re going around corners. The other thing professionals do is climb two steps at a time. Whether you are walking or running, always aim for a couple steps in each time you go forward.”
6. Find a Rhythm
“It’s not just a physical battle but a gruelling mental slog. You need to find a zone where you can just concentrate on your stepping rhythm and tunnel your vision towards the goal of reaching the top.
“It’s best to ignore any progress and avoid looking at the stairwell numbers. From the word go, see how far you can get before working out how high you are, the numbers will only slow you down.”
“You’ve earned the spot on the viewpoint so make sure you take advantage of it."
8. Stand Up
“You’ll probably find yourself lying on the ground in exhaustion but try and move around and wiggle your legs once you can stand. If you don’t, the lactic acid is going to build up stronger in your legs."
“Grabbing something to eat and drink will help replenish all the lost sugar and salts that have leaked out in your sweat. Make sure you drink plenty of water and aim to eat within half an hour to an hour of finishing the race."
And the final tip of course, use the lift to get down.