Runners & Workouts: Mingzhu Lu – Stair Training for Pre-Race Maintenance

In this space, we will share the key or favorite workouts of our running friends and provide all the Runivores out there some training tips. Run with a smile, of course, but be ready to take on some pain!!

Mingzhu Lu

Mingzhu Lu started off as a mountaineer and road ultrarunner, but after her successful completion of the The 2014 North Face 100km in Beijing, she switched her focus to trails. Lu has since ran UTMF, UTMB and many other international trail ultras. With Ultra Trail Mount Guguan here in Central Taiwan coming up fast (a 100k with close to 10,000m in elevation and mostly self supported), we have invited Lu to share a workout that she does before longer distance races with big elevation gain.

  • MarathonPB 3:20
  • 6 hour race:70.5km
  • 12 hour race:121km
  • 100km PB: 8hr 55min
  • 2012 Spartathlon 246km: 33:32
  • 6 iTRA point races:UTMF、UTMT、UTMB、UTMG

Stair Training for Pre-race Maintenance

Lu first ran this workout before the 2012 TNF 100k in Taiwan, and it has become a pre-race tradition for every race that is longer than 100km.

Two weeks prior to a race, she would run/hike up the stairs along Mt. Hua and Mt. ErJian in Taiwan’s Jiayi and Yunlin Counties (more than 3000 steps). She typically runs it twice.

“Besides being a great physical workout, the main purpose is to conduct a pre-race check up. Find out which muscles for uphill and downhill are tighter? Which muscles feel tired? Which parts of your body need some extra kneading and rolling? Which joints need to be supported with extra taping,” Lu said.

Each set (up and down) is 6km and 800m in elevation (from 800m-1266m). A few years ago when she was less experienced, she would just do one set, but now she typically completes 2 or even 3 sets.

  1. Be patient going up and try to be nimble and efficient coming down. Total time for each set should be 60:40 uphill, downhill.
  2. “You might think the second is the toughest. But often times during the first climb your lungs haven’t opened up yet. You will find the second set relatively easier,” Lu pointed out.
  3. Stairs are tough, treat it as an opportunity to train your mental game.
  4. It typically takes her 1 hour and 10 minutes to go up and 40 minutes to descend. (She would also carry 5-6kg of gear to simulate the mandatory gears for the longer trail ultras)

*If you are ambitious and want to run three sets, the workout should be done three weeks prior to the race to ensure sufficient recovery.

**Feel free to adjust or select other sets of stairs based on your race, own ability and traffic convenience.

“Stairs are incredible workouts, both physically and mentally. You should be able to feel and discover which parts of your body need a little bit more fine tuning and maintenance through this workout,” Lu added.

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