Be Specific!

This post is a reminder that your training should be specific to your race. Here’s what I mean by that. If your race is hilly, you should be training on hills. If your race is on trails, you should be training on trails. If your race is at altitude, you should be training at altitude (if possible).

This has been on my mind because the ultra that I’m doing in June has lots of stairs:



I’ve never done a race with stairs before so I know it is something I need to practice. This is much easier when the weather is nice, but unfortunately, it hasn’t been nice lately.

Fortunately, nearby Syracuse University has a pretty decent set of covered stairs. Earlier this week, I decided to do some repeats on them since students are away on Spring Break.


As you can see, there’s a bench about halfway up, in case you have a strong desire to catch a disease or get murdered.


I think there are about 117 stairs and each rep covers about 60 feet or so of vertical. I checked topographic maps to confirm this (I’m that kind of run-nerd).


I did at least twenty reps (I lost count, but I know it was at least twenty). They took me anywhere between 35 and 45 seconds each.

It has now been several days and I’m still sore. However, this is a good thing! It shows me that I need to do more stairs to be prepared for the race in June. It also perfectly demonstrates why your training needs to be specific to the race you are doing. Some short-term pain is definitely worth some long-term gain!

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13 Responses to Be Specific!

  1. This is SO important. I have run halves where I did most of my training on the treadmill and lemme tell ya. I was KILLED on the race. There’s just no way to mimic outdoors

  2. emmelineruns says:

    This is exactly why I’m doing killer hill training ALL summer. I was super unprepared for my first hilly race and finished 10 minutes slower than planned because of it, I will not make that same mistake again!

  3. runwright says:

    I’ve never done a race with stairs but a couple years ago I used to incorporate stairs in my morning run. Until I twisted my ankle on a loose tile. Be safe out there.

  4. Stairs are tough, especially mixed with running. You are so right to be training accordingly.

  5. If I did a race with stairs I might severely hurt myself.

    This post did hit home because I really don’t change my training with any races I’m actually training for. (admitting is the first step I guess).

  6. piratebobcat says:

    A race with stairs, ouch! Good luck and it’s smart to be preparing for it now!

  7. I couldn’t agree more on the training needing to be specific for the race! Incidentally, stairs are a fantastic workout in any case – there are many of them on the coastal paths that I run, and I find that after training on the stair sections, normal hills start to feel really mild in comparison!

    • Jason says:

      I think your stairs sound a lot prettier than my stairs! Ha! You’re definitely right. I think stairs are usually a bit steeper than hills – the set I’ve been practicing on lately are about 10% and there is one set nearby that is almost 20% – you won’t find too many hills like that!

      • Haha yes, I agree – I get old stone steps in the hills by the sea. Having said that, I don’t get benches on the way either… It’s rare that hills are that steep, and stairs really make you lift your legs when going up them!

  8. great reminder to train for the conditions/course you will be racing!

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