I may no longer be calling it the “dreadmill.” After much anticipation from the running community, RacePace, Houston’s first treadmill studio is up and running. With temperatures quickly beginning to rise, their soft opening comes at the perfect time for Houstonian runners. I was lucky to be part of their first ever RP Speed class on Tuesday at 5:30 am. And after just one class, I can already tell this studio is going to play a big role in my training moving forward. I do believe that training in Houston’s heat has its benefits, but I can’t help but think that doing speed training in the unbearably hot weather can’t be entirely healthy. Plus, with treadmills you can do something that running outdoors just can’t offer in this city…hills. With my half marathon training (for Seawheeze in Vancouver) kicking off at the beginning of June, I’m ready to test my fitness and challenge myself!
The RP Speed class is one of three class types offered at RacePace. Designed for runners looking to improve their speed in shorter races, this class bounced between 2-3 minute intervals at our target race pace for the 10K, 5K and one mile. Every treadmill comes with a handy card to guide you toward what your treadmill speed should be for those different distances. The workout was tough and I definitely felt challenged, but because it’s all based on time vs. distance the classes would be ideal for runners of any speed. I logged just over 5 miles in about 45-minutes, that’s a win in my books!
One of the most interesting things that came up for me during this class, was how different my mindset was while on the treadmill vs. the road or the track. I had thoughts come up that never seem to sneak in my mind while doing speed work. Here are the top 10 things that went through my mind during my first RacePace class.
- Uh oh, this feels fast. I’m not as well acquainted with treadmill speeds because I really don’t run on the treadmill that often. When we started amping up into the 5K pace, I panicked a little. But the great thing about being on a treadmill is that you have the power to change the speed if you need to. Odds are, you’ll get used to it (which is totally the point) and be able to push yourself like I did.
- Hills are hard. Like I said, Houston has pretty much zero hills and as Coach Jeff pointed out during class 15 second hill sprints at Spotts Park can only help so much. The second half of class was focused on hill intervals which as tough at they were, I loved.
- I’m loving these tunes. One of the reasons I love spin classes is because of the rockin’ playlists. RacePace offers a similar environment and Coach Jeff’s playlist was on point. He mixed up rock and fast paced rap songs that fit with the pace we were running. As a fellow group fitness instructor, I enjoy being able to use music to showcase my personality and better relate to my students. This is something Jeff excelled at.
- So that’s what I look like while running. How often to you get to watch your form while running? I appreciated the fact that the studio is lined by mirrors. It gave me the chance to check out my form and make corrections as needed.
- That A/C feels great. The toughest part of a speed workout for me is the last couple of reps when I’m dripping with sweat and feeling a little defeated. In Houston, summer heat makes this part of a workout even worse and honestly, it’s where I quit. Today, when we got to those last couple of intervals, Jeff turned on the fans and as I felt the cooler breeze I got another burst of energy and was able to increase my speed a little more!
- I can do anything for 2 minutes. Most of our intervals in today’s class were 2-3 minutes long. It was hard going faster than I have in a workout in a long time, but the short intervals followed by recovery made it totally doable. Jeff’s countdowns at the minute, 30-second and 15-second mark were great, too. It’s usually at that point during a speed workout around the Rice University loop that I’m constantly checking my Garmin (which if you’ve ever run around Rice you know is NOT SAFE, there are roots and people everywhere).
- Oh yeah, form. I can’t remember the last time someone reminded me about my running form. The benefit of having a coach in a treadmill studio environment is that it’s easy to see everyone and provide feedback to both the group and individuals! As I mentioned above, the mirror really helped as well.
- We’re all in this together (cue High School Musical song). I’ve always been drawn to sports that are individual yet can be done with others — swimming, running, and group fitness. There’s a huge motivating factor when you can see the others around you going through the same tough workout. I also really enjoyed being in the second row of treadmills so I could see the speeds of the people in the row above me, I may or may not be slightly competitive so seeing what others were running motivated me to go a little faster.
- I do feel more relaxed. Just like spin classes, the studio room at RacePace has different colored light settings. During the warm down, Jeff changed the room to an orange-red color, which he explained is a color that helps bring the body into a state of relaxation. It’s a similar feeling to watching a sunrise or sunset, and it worked! As we cooled down I definitely felt my heart rate come down faster than usual.
- Ready for round 2! The biggest takeaway after class was that I want to do it again. I can see the value in finding your “RacePace” so racing is easier, regardless of the distance. I’ll be committing to at least one RacePace class per week when I’m in training and can’t wait to see the results!
If you live in Houston, I highly recommend checking out RacePace. They’re offering free classes during their soft opening, so sign up for their mailing list on their website for access to the days and times they’ll be offering classes. And let me know when you’re going! I’d love to race you :).