Towerrunning: Soh Wai Ching Towers Them All
Do you remember the last time you voluntarily skipped the lift and walked up the stairs to get to your apartment or office building high rise floor? Perhaps a long time ago, or not at all. Would you be up to the challenge of going up 1,400 floors a week, every week?
For Soh Wai Ching who is currently ranked No.1 (provisionally, as official rankings are updated monthly) by Towerrunning World Association, these are the number of floors he perseveres week in, week out. The 25-year old sports science graduate from University of Malaya is fully committed to this sport by training full time with support from sponsors, and having coaching duties on weekends. He is also actively involved with the Malaysia Towerrunning Association and intends to grow the sport with like-minded enthusiasts.
Wai Ching is already pencilling in his race calendar for next year. He will have his third attempt at Eiffel Tower Run in Paris. Other cool events coming up globally include Taipei 101, Macau Tower Run, Seoul Lotte SkyTower Run and Shanghai Tower.
“You need to know that you only live once, you should give your best shots and achieve it. You won’t be able to undo and travel back in time to live it again and give it another shot” – Soh Wai Ching.
Track running formed the foundation for Wai Ching’s success today. He enjoyed 5k and 10k distances on the track as the laps allowed him to keep pace with the faster runners. When he switched to road running, the experiences of pacing on the track gave Wai Ching the mental strength to “attack” his competitors with surges, effectively playing the psychological mind games. To be strong in road running, he did hill repeat training. Lots of it!
With a strong foundation built on this, he won many road running races especially the highly competitive Men’s Open 10km race at the Kuala Lumpur Standard Chartered Marathon this year.
The hill repetitions built the strengths necessary for climbing up the stairs. He still needed to make adjustments though as the muscle groups used are different.
Wai Ching explained, “Towerrunning is different in a way that you are running upwards, against gravity. There is more resistance and you use different muscle groups,”
“You engage your glutes to lift up your leg to the next steps or two, and quadriceps when you land on your ball of feet or mid-foot, and your calf while you push off from your ankle. Additionally, you use both arms to grab on the handrail and pull yourself up, and the turning technique require practice to perfect it.” continued the KL-born.
Towerruning – or stair climbing – has its own appeal. Each building or tower has it own number of steps in a flight, number of flights in a floor, step’s height, step’s width, handrail height, handrail length at the turn, and refugee area. In short, no two buildings are similar. If you are a running enthusiast, you can relate to the above facts. No two running courses are the same, and therefore you would want to attempt every opportunity that you may have.
If you are interested to give stair climbing a shot, Wai Ching has some tips to get you started.
Steps Towards Stair Climbing
- Start slow by walking up the staircase step by step.
- Get comfortable withe 20 floors. Take the lift down. Repeat 6 to 8 sets, with 1 to 2 minutes of rest in between.
- Then, progress to double steps. Practise to pull yourself up using the handrail. Do the same number of repetitions.
- Depending on the buildings you may have access to, you may then want to increase climbing to higher floors, or have shorter rest breaks in between.
- It’s important to understand your body and train within your capacity.
- A metronome is a good tool to use as it allows you to train in a steady pace.
Would you want to give towerrunning a try soon?