Kilian Jornet

How to run a vertical kay like Kilian Jornet

© Jordi Saragossa / Salomon

How to run a vertical kay like Kilian Jornet

“Kilian is probably the only athlete who can win a vertical KM up to 100 miler on the international circuit,” says Ryan Sandes of the phenom that is mountain runner and ski-mountaineer Kilian Jornet.
Hailing from Spain, Jornet’s list of accolades would take up pages, but some highlights include: victories at Ultra-Trail du Mont-Blanc, Grand Raid, the Western States Endurance Run and the Hardrock Hundred Mile Endurance Run. In 2014 he become the first person to win the Vertical, Sky and Ultra categories in the Skyrunner® World Series in the same year.
Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet
Jornet also holds the fastest known time for the ascent and descent of Matterhorn, Mont Blanc and Denali. His current challenge, as part of his Summits of My Life project is to set an FKT on Mount Everest.
With the aim of helping you set your fastest possible time on the new Table Mountain KFT, we quizzed both Jornet and Emelie Forsberg – as prolific a race winner and versatile an athlete as Kilian – on training tips for a vertical kay.
Emelie Forsberg
Emelie Forsberg
“To perform well on a vertical kay it is important to have some endurance qualities and a good VO2 max,” explains Jornet. “However it is also crucial to have strength because you need to lift your body weight on every step. So, in addition to classical training for endurance is important to work on leg strength,” he says.
To do this, Jornet suggests a combination of strength and intensity intervals:
Kilian Jornet
Kilian Jornet
High intensity
“When I want to work my cardio and improve the Vo2 I do an uphill at high frequency steps, but short, so that I always keep running. In doing this, my heart rate is high, but my muscles don’t get overworked"
Strength
"Then sometimes I do the opposite, long steps – at the maximum my muscles can manage – or do fast walking, trying to go up only with my muscle strength and not with the cardio. I walk-run on this for 5-10min, then 5-10min high frequency.”
Forsberg, agrees, to run hills, you need to train hills. “I think hill reps are a good and quite ‘easy' way to get ready for a VK,” says the Swede. She suggests a variety of intensity intervals, going up as hard as you can.
Try to mix up your regular runs with a set of the options below:
- 3 x 10 minutes.
- 12 x 2 minutes.
- 4x4 minutes.
Now that you're armed with some training advice from two of the best vertical kay runners in the world, go set a time on the new Table Mountain FKT.