Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Mile High Run Club in NYC!

Crappy cold winter weather got you completely unmotivated to run?  Well, look no further than Mile High Run Club, at 28 East 4th Street in NoHo.  This new treadmill studio opened up only six weeks ago, boasting thirty top-of-the-line Woodway 4Front treadmills in a roomy space with a club-like atmospheree.  It's a new concept that developed from the trend-setting explosion of SoulCycle spinning studios all over New York City. I was given a chance to try out a free class at this studio (courtesy of Elizabeth at Running and the City, one of my regular running blog reads -- thank you!!), and jumped at a chance to break a sweat running... while not having to be outside.

Peeking through the porthole
at Debora's Dash28 class...
I approached the class a little hesitant; I was just coming off an awesome half in Florida the week before where I set a PR, and took this week off after feeling a pretty tight knot in my left calf that persisted over the last few days after the race - enough to make descending stairs somewhat bothersome (which isn't fun for someone who goes up and down stairs every single day on the subway).  I hadn't run at all since the race, and my only real fitness in the past week was a day of lifting on Thursday at Mark Fisher; while my legs felt fine, I definitely could tell they weren't completely at 100% yet.

The entrance on 4th Street is pretty unassuming - there's no signage up that indicates what's in this space.  I met Sloane at the front desk, who checked me in and showed me around the simply laid out space: after passing the front desk and merch area, is a waiting area lined with a wall of small lockers, and on either side is the men's and women's locker rooms; behind a central door with a porthole window is the studio space.  I came a bit early to check out founder Debora Warner's "Dash 28" 7pm class, a 45-minute all-levels class with a short warm-up, 28 minutes (duh...) of structured intervals, and 10 minutes of strength plus power training with kettle bells.  Normally, this would be my style of class - but being that I do have all these distance runs I want to train for, I decided to sign up for the slightly more advanced class, called "The Distance."

A wall of lockers just outside
of the studio space
"The Distance" is an hour-long class with continuous intervals, tempo, hills, and speedwork on the treadmill.  At the helm was Zack Schares, an accomplished triathlete and fitness trainer who also coaches cycling and swimming classes at locations throughout the city.  Zack's great energy made me feel at ease as I approached the monster of a treadmill that I was going to hope to conquer over the next hour.  The Woodway 4Front treadmill is a beast; measuring three feet wide by almost six feet long, and just a teensy bit taller than me!  Each of these machines, that has a running surface with tank-like treads that mimics the feel of running on a trail (and therefore is much easier on the knees), retails for approximately $10,000, but the studio leases them.  The space is covered in a spring-loaded (almost like a Marley floor, which is used in dance studios) with a black astro-turf covering.  Because of an essentially double-sprung floor, it's super bouncy and the treadmills have a tendency to shake quite a bit. For someone who's not used to that sensation under their feet, it definitely took a little bit of getting used to.

The door into the studio...
...ready to get your #runnershigh?
Zack outlined the basics of the class, which started out with an easy warm up run, followed by a series of timed intervals, some hillwork on various incline levels that he dictated, and then finally a few timed sprints. Runners can follow one of two categories of pacing: "joggers," for beginners and intermediates; and "racers," for advanced and elite runners.  Each category has four levels with a speed range (in miles per hour) that the coach would yell out, along with an incline level. Thankfully, it is up to the runner to decide where within the range to run.  A cheat sheet is located on the treadmill, with the categories, levels, and speed ranges.

I expressed my fear of falling off the treadmill just before class, to which Zack responded it hadn't happened before, which somewhat allayed my initial trepidation. Then our class of roughly ten folks, at treadmills all throughout the room started.  I probably went a little too fast off the bat, because ten minutes in I was huffing and puffing, and sweating buckets.  If you're used to running outside and on asphalt or concrete, this is a completely different atmosphere.  Being in an enclosed space, with a neutral room temperature and circulated air got to me at first, but I began to get used to it after a little while.  And the fact that the treadmills shake like crazy can psyche you out a little as well (I was told that they were going to work on trying to secure them to the floor a bit more over the holiday break) The one thing I have to say is GO EASY when doing treadmill work for the first time.  Because hill work is essentially first (going 5.0 to 7.0 on the incline, while being at a decent clip, roughly "level 2"), you don't want to burn yourself out too early, since the class is an hour long.  I had to stop a couple times, because my calf began to cramp up, but hey, it comes with the territory with the change of atmosphere.  Zack noticed me struggling and knew I was still in "recovery" from my big race, so he suggested I just use the minimum pace settings, which I gladly returned back to.

SPRINT!!!!
I finally got the hang of it after we cranked up the speed and then lowered it back down again, adjusted it to how I was feeling, brought our incline levels up and down, and got into a good heart rate, from what I could tell.  The screen on the treadmill gives you a rough pace that you're going, based off of the speed level you've selected, and then handicapped based on the incline level.  I was still on the minimum end during the short recoveries between intervals, which I was thankful for since it was essentially speedwalking.  We finished with a series of sprints: two minutes on and two minutes off.  I decided to up the ante a bit since I was feeling a little more used to it and jumped up to 7.0 mph and then 7.5 mph (roughly 8:00-8:30 pace) and executed it great - and it helped that we had some awesome remixes that I used to establish a good cadence!  (I even lipynched along to J. Lo's new single, "Booty," when it came on.  I mean, DUH.) The great thing about this class is you can make it as hard or as easy as you want it, since you get to decide what pace you want to go on the machine.

After the last sprint, we had a cooldown and then stretched out.  That hour went by so quickly!  I chatted with Zack real quick after and took a quick photo with him for the blog (and for their website!) - I definitely want to come back and try out the Dash 28 class!  So, if you do feel unmotivated by the winter weather, you should definitely come into MHRC and try out one of their classes - it's also a great way to get any friends who are thinking about starting to run or wanting to train to get faster, and get them to try it out!

With MHRC coach Zack Schares

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