I am training for my first mountain ultramarathon :-) Unfortunately, I live in a completely flat location --- the biggest hill is about 20 meters. I use the hill extensively during my runs, but I am afraid it may not be sufficient to prepare for 2-8km climbs.

Today I extended my workouts with running stairs (42 floors, about 130 meters). Is it a good idea? What other exercise could I add to my workouts?

3 Answers 3


I've never extensively run stairs for training but they're far better than running flat (even that 20m hill is pretty flat).

If your climbs are up to 8km (eeuch!) then you need to simulate that in training. I would probably starting progressing the stair run to be the equivalent. Bear in mind that an 8km is very difficult mentally - you need to be able to keep going.

The other thing to worry about is the down-hill on the other side. You need to have the footwork - and the confidence in your footwork - to be able to manage it.

  • Sarge, I've just come from a 2-day excurse to Polish mountains (Tatry) and must admit that you're absolutely right in your last sentence --- actually, I can't run down-hills! The biggest problem was that while I'm a typical forefoot striker, when running down-hills I was unable to land on my forefoot without losing stability. In the end I injured my knees and foot... Another (minor :-) problem was that with incline about 30% my run was slower than a walk :-( Jul 22, 2013 at 17:15
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    Oooh, ouch. To run down hills you absolutely need to land on your forefoot (at least in my opinion!). In Taekwon-Do you are taught to spin on your forefoot so that your toes can control you spin. That reason applies when running downhill. If you land on your heels then you can't control anything and you lose the shock absorbing capability of your foot controlling the motion from the forefoot to the heel. I would figure out why you couldn't land on your forefoot and fix that. You may need to do single-leg balancing exercises (and when you can do them eyes-shut waving your arms - you'll be ready
    – Sarge
    Jul 22, 2013 at 19:59
  • I tried these exercises and they were easy for me, so I guess there must be a problem with something else. Anyway, thanks for your advice! Jul 25, 2013 at 20:46
  • Single-leg balancing exercises is boring though :-) I feel that running down the hill ability and jumping ability go hand in hand. One needs similar muscles and confidence (including stability). Oct 13, 2014 at 22:42

In addition to the answers already received, I would suggest you to do weight training for your legs in the gym. It develops mitochondria in your muscle cells, which play important role in (up)hill running.

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    could you tell us more about developing mitochondria? It's an exciting topic. I didn't expect it to run into it in the context of long distance running (call me naive :-). Oct 13, 2014 at 22:44
  • (Why does my at-@ sign--in front of a name--vanish, especially at the beginning of a comment?) Oct 13, 2014 at 22:58

I am no expert, @Michał, so you are warned in advance.

I have three remarks:

  • You could consider a threadmill. This will give you any desired angle, your muscles may get proper training. Running up and down the staircase should be good too, certainly, but it wouldn't position your foot the way a steep road would.
  • Running the staircase should be helpful also to train running down the hill. Running up and down the staircase should help your jumping ability(!) (skoczność). Here one should be careful. I got a lot of practice running up and down several times a day about five floors about every day during my childhood and teens. I would run 2-3 steps at the time, very fast, especially down (:-). This my be hazardous when one is not a youngster though.
  • I was given an advice, and followed it, to run down the hill like you were about to fall on your face. I could feel that this way one is just rolling down the hill virtually without wasting any energy. The ordinary folks, when they run down the hill they actually resist going down, they apply their internal breaks. It's wasteful.
  • Two weeks of sailing, spent on a (relatively large) boat (on Mazuras) made me stable on feet in a way that I could only dream about before the trip. You learn to walk easily on a about 1.5'' (3-4cm) wide edge of a boat, doing all kind of chores, and you never worry about falling into water, you don't think about it, you get full confidence.

Enjoy yourself, good luck,

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    Hi, Wlod :-) Thanks for the comments --- I think I shall write what I have learnt during the year --- but yes, definitely, running on a treadmill is a far better idea than running frowsty stairway :-) Oct 13, 2014 at 20:10
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    Hi Michał, I am looking forward to read about your new running experience. My running days are over, thus it is extra nice to see others sharing about their activities. (Hey, I am the Internet original Wlod; most of the time, for all these years, I was the only Internet Wlod :-). Oct 13, 2014 at 22:36

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