I Had An Awesome Stair Workout in Pontiac, Michigan… Until the Injury

So many stairs!

That’s me on Tuesday, in front of a huge stairway at the Phoenix Center in Pontiac, Michigan. I grew up about 20 minutes away from here, but had never been here before. It’s a pretty neat facility… but most of it is closed to the public.

The Phoenix Center was built in the early 1980s. It’s a four-story parking garage, with a huge plaza and amphitheater on the roof that can accommodate 6,500 people. The Phoenix Center was home to many concerts and festivals, but the city shut it down years ago. You can see the amphitheater from the top of the stairs, behind gates that are chained shut.

After years in litigation regarding whether or not it could be demolished, it was decided in May that the structure would stay standing, with the plaza and amphitheater permanently closed, but parts of the garage remaining open, to provide parking for two adjacent office buildings.

The stairs in the photo are one of two giant sets of stairs designed to accommodate thousands of people arriving and departing the amphitheater on the roof. (I saw a couple more smaller sets of stairs, too, but they were fenced off.)

I arrived on Tuesday morning and parked in a surface lot. The stairway had eight lanes, so I started my workout by running up and down each lane. There were 56 stairs, which isn’t a ton, compared to some of the other public stairways I’ve run, but when you run them over and over again, it adds up quickly!

Then I headed over to the other stairway, only a couple hundred feet away.

This stairway had eight lanes as well, and 54 steps to the top. I did eight more climbs, doing a different drill on each one: sideways, wide-stepping, high knees, box jumps, and so on. I even tried the #stairchallenge dance that was all over social media a few months ago, but I don’t think I did it right. I also did a climb where I bear-crawled up on all fours, stopping every other step to do a push-up. (I made sure to pick a clean lane; some of them had broken glass on them.)

After those 16 climbs, I decided to do eight more – four on each set of stairs. That’s 24 total climbs.

  • 12 x 54 steps = 648
  • 12 x 56 steps = 672
  • 1,320 total steps climbed! (And 1,320 total steps descended)

FYI: Both sets of stairs are easily seen and accessed from the intersection of Water Street and South Perry Street, in downtown Pontiac, and there’s plenty of parking. It’s right across the street from Erebus, which is one of the world’s largest haunted houses. (But it’s only open around Halloween.)

All in all, my workout took 50 minutes. I left there tired but feeling happy about what I had accomplished.

But then, a couple hours later, the pain set in. UGH. My right Achilles tendon grew to be swollen and inflamed, making it difficult (but not impossible) to walk. I must’ve landed on it funny or something, and not realized it at the time?

I’ve been icing my ankle and taking Aleve. Wednesday was a planned rest day, but I’m also taking today as a rest day, too. My ankle feels better today, but I’m not taking any chances and don’t want to aggravate it.

My plan is to go to the gym tomorrow and lift weights, but stay seated the whole time. I know a ton of things I can do, from when I injured my foot a couple years ago, so I’m not worried about putting too much weight of pressure on my ankle.

And then on Saturday, I’m going to go open water swimming in the Detroit River, which I also did while visiting a few years ago. Swimming is no-impact, so I can handle that, too.

What I do after Saturday will depend on how I’m feeling – and how my ankle is doing. I’ve heard that a local park, Bloomer Park in Rochester Hills, has a lot of stairs, too, and I’d like to check them out, but only if my ankle is feeling strong enough.

Keep it up, David!


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