A Very Vertical Weekend

Three days, three great workouts – and all three had a big vertical component. Going vertical is hard work: you’re lifting your entire body weight, whether it’s up stairs, a hill, or an incline on the treadmill. It’s great for your legs, and great for your heart.

It all began on Friday night, when I went shopping for new shoes. I decided to add trail running shoes to my arsenal of footwear. Trail shoes are like running shoes, but with more treads and ridges on the bottom, so you have more traction when you’re running on non-paved surfaces like, well, trails.

I wanted trail shoes for a race that I’m doing in a couple weeks. It’s unlike any other race I’ve ever done, and wearing trail shoes will be a smart choice. (Guess what? I’m not sharing anything else about this race until I post my recap!)

Check out my new trail shoes! They’re Brooks Cascadia 12s, and they were highly recommended to me by my buddy Nandor (more on him later), so I was very excited that they fit really well and are super comfortable.

From there, I drove directly to a trailhead that was only about a half-mile away, and broke them in on a trail run through Wilacre Park, a lovely mountainous area on the backside of the Hollywood Hills.

I ran 3.9 miles up and down the trail, as the sun started setting, clocking in a nearly 700-foot elevation gain. (The selfie at the beginning of the post was from the highest point, but the picture didn’t turn out so well.)

On Saturday, I had a workout planned with my cousin, Aaron. Aaron is only in town for a few more weeks, before leaving for a two-year stint in Nicaragua with the Peace Corps. He had expressed interest in stair workouts, so I had a great one planned.

We met at the outdoor amphitheater at Occidental College, one of my favorite places to run stairs. (See why here.) But we were thwarted – the amphitheater was closed, because a summer theater camp was doing a performance.

Aaron arrived to the amphitheater from the opposite direction as me, and happened to have spotted a great Plan B: a different amphitheater, just down the block and around the corner. I didn’t even know it was there! At first we thought it was part of the Eagle Rock High School campus, which is next door, but I learned after the fact that it’s the very back of Yosemite Recreation Center, a Los Angeles city park.

This amphitheater is much smaller than the Occidental one, but it’ll do for a stair workout. The aisles have 36 steps, and if you climb in the seating sections, it’s double-height steps.

Aaron and I climbed stairs for an hour: A long warm-up, then all sorts of drills, like box jumps, side-stepping, and leg swings. We ended the workout with four sprints. My fastest time up those 36 steps was 7:63 seconds.

All together, we climbed the amphitheater 36 times. That’s 1,296 total steps! Not too shabby for an hour’s work.

On Sunday, I meet up with Nandor (who recommended the shoes) for a workout on Eldred Street. I’ve blogged about Eldred before: It’s one of the steepest streets in the country – so steep that halfway up, the road ends and there’s a 197-step stairway to the top. This street has even appeared on one of the Kardashian shows! I’m glad I’ve blogged about it before, because I completely forgot to take any pictures during the workout.

Well.. I took one picture before the workout, when the Apple Maps van came rolling through, with a dozen cameras mounted on the roof, capturing all the street view images.

Look for me on Apple Maps, standing on the sidewalk on Eldred Street!

Nandor is a personal trainer, and he had all sorts of wicked ideas to juice up this workout. We climbed the hill and the stairs all sorts of different ways, including side-stepping, crab walking (forward and backwards), and, for one of the climbs, I had to carry Nandor on my back, piggyback-style. That was tough – Nandor is 6′ and weighs 185 pounds! I made it halfway up, though – much farther than I was expecting. (Watch one of Nandor’s videos here, and email him for personal training info! nandorhorvath@hotmail.com)

We did the hill+stairs five times. It took about 80 minutes, and my app showed that one ascent had roughly a 200-foot elevation gain, so that’s a total of about 1,000 feet!

After all this hill and stair work, I’m ready for something different. Maybe for my next workout, I’ll lift weights!

Keep it up, David!


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