So when a friend mentioned that she was keen to do the Stadium Stomp at the GABBA, I thought, why not, let's give it a crack.
What is the Stadium Stomp I hear you ask? It's a 5000+ stair climb of the upper (twice) and lower decks of the stadium, followed by a lap of honour on the hallowed turf which is home to the Brisbane Lions during football season and the Brisbane Heat and Queensland Bulls during cricket season.
Three months out from the event we put a call out to our triathlon club pals to see who might be keen to train for the Stomp. A small group of determined women descended on Crown St at Wynnum and started training on a fifty step climb up and down a set of uneven, dodgy poorly-lit concrete stairs.
Each week saw an increase in reps, different strength exercises between sets and the occasional run to break up the quad burning activities. We progressed from there to the stairs at our local train station - a major upgrade from Crown St.
Stair climbing is like no other training I had down before. It works out not just the butt, but just about every muscle in your legs and if you can convince yourself not to use the hand rails, the upper body gets a workout too as that extra propulsion gained from pumping the arms is a major plus.
As a group we were lucky to have our mate Susan in the mix, as she trawled through heaps of stuff online to find tips (two stairs at a time is better than singular steps) and hints for training. Other friends warned us that stair running would ruin us for normal running, with common complaints such as shin splints and calf tightness thrown in the mix, but with Susan leading us through comprehensive warm ups and warm downs each session, we were able to maintain our fitness and avoid injury (at least when stair climbing - boxing and rock climbing were both different stories!)
Throw in a couple of Metafit sessions (high intensity interval training) a week and we were cooking with gas.
Our group dwindled down to a final five for the Stomp - registered and raring to go. Josie Hart, Julie Bonato, Susan Davy, Suzie Boies and myself found ourselves Gabba-bound on 21st June, as prepared as we could hope to be to tackle the stairs.
5.45am and with a quick stop at Maccas for an early morning caffeine hit, we rocked up to the Gabba, took the obligatory photos in front of the marketing signs, checked our bags and proceeded to the marshalling area for warm up. While the rest of the group followed along with the onsite coach, our group did its regular warm up session and before we knew it, it was 7.00am and we were listening to the final briefing before starting on the stairs.
With an emcee calling over the stadium system, and music pumping around the stadium, the many sets of up/down began. I do have to admit that it wasn't anywhere near as painful as I had imagined and we set a good pace and maintained good momentum all the way round. After the first lap of the top deck I was looking forward to finishing the second lap and moving downstairs as they were a different height and spacing, meaning the tiring muscles got some rest.
The vollies were great on the day, calling out lots of encouragement, cheering everyone on and of course asking the obligatory 'Are you having fun?' Funnily enough we were. Being a bit slower, I was the last of our group to come down onto the field and complete the lap of the ground. But there is a bit of a bonus to coming in last - everyone else is there to cheer you home. After all, they couldn't go anywhere, I had the car keys!
It was a great morning out and a chance to try something new. Next year we are thinking of doing it again, but this time perhaps at a new venue - the home of AFL, the MCG. Something tells me that that is going to hurt!