Friday, February 11, 2011

7 Climbing Tips from Mark Trahanovsky, an Avid & World Ranked Stair Climber:

          When Mark Trahanovsky , an avid and world ranked stair climber, did Pittsburgh’s 2009 inaugural stair climb he considered that event to be his hometown climb even though he has been a resident of California since 1982.  You see, Mr. Trahanovsky is originally from Johnstown, PA and lived in Pittsburgh during the late 70’s when he attended the Art Institute of Pittsburgh.  Back then Mark was amazed with Pittsburgh’s tall buildings and even remembers one sunny spring day when he and a fellow classmate snuck through an unlocked door to the roof of a 40 story Liberty Avenue skyscraper where they ate lunch and enjoy the view.  Little did Mark know that over 30 years later he would be enjoying other rooftop views from skyscrapers all over our country.
            Interestingly, Mark did not do his first stair climb until the fall of 2007 after he had an unexpected knee surgery caused by years of running and was forced to find a non-impact form of exercising.  A running friend of Mark’s told him of an upcoming 75 floor Los Angeles stair climb and with trepidation and intimidation Trahanovsky competed in that event and managed to get a 3rd place age group finish.  That day he was hooked!  Since then he has done 25 stair climbs across the USA including Chicago’s 103 floor Willis Tower, formally known as the Sears Tower.  Denver’s challenging high altitude building race and recently New York City’s prestigious 86 floor Empire State Building stair climb.
            As a husband, father of 2 younger children, a printing sells rep for West Coast Labels in Orange County ,CA and a volunteer stair climb advisor he is an example that no matter how busy we are we can still find time to exercise.  Mark believes that this sport only requires 20 to 30 minutes max per day, 4-5 days a week to become very fit and well conditioned.  He also encourages cross training workouts such as spinner bike, regular bike, elliptical machines, raised treadmill, jump rope, stepper machines and weights.  This cross training brings variety to an exercise plan and prevents physical and mental burnout.
            Over the past couple of years Mark has seen others become physically fit and lose weight.  Mark’s older sister Jane is proof of that.  Since getting into this sport about two years ago she has lost over 80 lbs.  You will get to meet Jane in March as she will also be traveling back to Pittsburgh from California to do our climb. 

Since Mark has done so many climbs he has 7 tips for those who are doing their first stair climb...

1.   Do not start too fast .  Start at a speed you believe to be a pace you can hold throughout all 37 floors. If halfway through the climb around floor 18 you are feeling energetic then pickup your pace a little. If you are going for a fast time really save any extra energy for the last 4-5 floors and finish strong.

2.   If you are tall enough you may want to skip one step and take two steps at a time.

3.   No matter if you are a one stepper or two-stepper you will want to pull up on the handrails as you ascend. This arm motion will save on leg energy and lactic acid buildup in the leg muscles.

4.  Since our muscle fiber consists of water make sure to stay well hydrated race day, days before the race and especially during all workouts.

5.  All climbers go into the stairs at about 8-10 second intervals to make the stairwells less crowded.  If you need to pass let others know your intentions with a quick word such as “Passing” or “Coming Around” or a tap on the shoulder.  If your goal is not a fast time but just to finish try to start towards the end of the line and be aware of anyone behind you on the stairs who wants to pass.

6.  About 4-5 days before the climb stop exercising or taper down on any hard workouts.  This will allow your muscles to be well rested for March 19th.

7.  MAKE IT FUN!  Savor each and every moment from the time before the climb , going up the steps and especially the ecstasy of the finish and it’s high rise views.
Lastly, since this sport is non-impact and revolves around the everyday activity of going up stairs it is not age limited.  With this in mind last year Trahanovsky who is in his early 50’s encouraged his 1977 Ebensburg, PA high school graduates to try this fast growing sport and some did.  This year their large numbered team humorously named  “The Pittsburgh Stairlers” not only consists of classmates, but the spouses of classmates , children of classmates and friends of these groups.  Mark and the Pittsburgh Stairlers will be wearing matching black and gold shirts and look forward to meeting all who are doing this great and healthy fundraiser!