You may be more familiar with the name vertical marathon or vertical running.
An alternative to conventional flat-road marathons, Tower running is a sport which involves running up tall man-made structures.
The races usually take place on the internal staircases of the skyscrapers, but it covers any vertical foot race, which involves a course that ascends a man-made structure.
There is also a worldwide governing body for tower running namely the Towerrunning World Association. The organization is responsible for regulating and promoting stair races on a worldwide basis. It also manages a worldwide ranking and held World and Continental Tower Running Championships.
As Malaysia has many skyscrapers, the sport started to gain its prominent recently. One person who plays an important role in Malaysia tower running scene is none other than 25 year-old Malaysian Coach Soh Wai Ching.
Wai Ching is the President of Malaysia Towerrunning Association and an athlete. He originally started off as a trail runner by running in FRIM at Kepong.
Wai Ching still enjoys trail running, but his focus is still Tower runs, and he will only do trail running during his off season or as a cross training.
It is such a pleasure to speak with Coach Soh Wai Ching to learn more about his venture from trail running to tower running.
Besides that he will be sharing a few useful tips on how to start trail running.
Soh Wai Ching: Tower Runner
I will give my best effort and most importantly, enjoy the run.
RS: What is the transition like from tower running to trail running?
Wai Ching: Not much transition to be honest. My focus is still tower running, so, for me to transit back in trail running, technically it’s nothing much to me. I will just run.
RS: Tower running and trail running, which is more challenging for you?
Wai Ching: Towerrunning. The difference in terms of steps’ height, number of steps in a flight, number of flights in a floor, different combination of all these in a staircase, direction of running up stairs, handrail availability, handrail length are more complex than trail to me. I have to study the whole course and come out with a calculation to run my best time according to the metronome. I would say, stairs are more fun and it’s beatable. Trail runs wise, to me, it’s complex, but if you are a tower runner, you train regularly on stairs, trail running won’t be an issue for you.
RS: How do you change your training to for trail running?
Wai Ching: I don’t really change as I still focus more on the tower running training and I just run. I trained up to 18 – 20 sessions weekly with a total mileage of 50 – 60km weekly, 1200 – 1400 floors, and 2 -3 times of resistance band training.
RS: Where do you go for your tower run and trail run training?
Wai Ching: I don’t really go to the highest skyscraper. It’s all depends on the race, the tower, the building itself. I don’t really train for trail to be honest.
RS: Are there any useful techniques that you pick up to prepare for trail running?
Wai Ching: Fully utilised both arms to balance your body while running the trail. There is no need to carry anything with you during trail running, but depend on the distance you are running. If I am running a 10km run, you will be fine without any hydration bag. Go for small steps landing rather than larger stride length to reduce the chances of overstriding and to build up the momentum.
RS: Since you just started to explore trail running. How do you handle the stress and pressure during your training?
Wai Ching: I don’t really have any extra preparation for it, but I will give my best effort to enjoy the run.
RS: What are the tips you can share for beginners who wanted to start trail running?
Wai Ching: These are the tricks for new trail runners:
- First: pace yourself well, start with a decent pace that you know you can hold it in your distance.
- Second: walk fast up if you can’t run up the hill. Land light with smaller steps, quick cadence, stay calm. Use both the arms to grab on the tree trunk if you need it to slow yourself down during the downhill.
- Third: look at 3 – 5m ahead of you and react fast and make the decision on where you going to land and do not hesitate.
RS: What is the one thing that people do not know about you?
Wai Ching: Other than doing stairs most of my time, I love to play board games with friends.
Like trail running, there are many benefits of tower running aka vertical marathon. If decided to try out tower running, be sure to check out our comprehensive and easy guide on how to start tower running and where to train for your next vertical marathon.
Whether you are going for a trail run, tower run or any other running activities, you are still lapping everyone on the couch. Let us know your thoughts on tower running in the comments below.