February 5, 2016

Class Review: Mile High Run Club

My experience at Mile High Run Club is limited to one class, which I took this morning. But today was probably my favorite gym class I have ever taken in my life! Despite the Colorado-sounding name, Mile High is only in New York, so I probably won’t get to take another class for months 🙁 Rather than wait for more experience to write a comprehensive review, I wanted to share how amazing I thought Mile High was so that anyone who lives in New York (or travels there) knows to book a treadmill ASAP.

Mile High Run Club is in the Flatiron district, at 25th and Broadway.

The instruction on ClassPass said to show up at least 5 minutes early for class or your treadmill could be given away. However, in the 6am class I took, there were only about 10 of us for a room of 30 treadmills. True, the snow outside might have kept people away, but it seemed like this time wasn’t very popular! This was really surprising to me, since I am frequently looking for classes to start no later than 6am, and it seems like everyone else usually is too. Today, though, the 6am time worked with my schedule.

I didn’t do any getting ready at Mile High, choosing to go back to my hotel to don my suit for the day, but the locker room was gorgeous (if a bit tight). Four shower stalls, two separate toilet stalls, and then separate space for actually getting ready. I really liked that the lockers and getting ready space were separate from the shower stalls, vs studios that give you one little bathroom for everything and therefore someone has to finish showering and getting ready before you can get in there for your turn in the shower. This makes a big difference when it’s a busy morning class and you’re trying to get to work on time!

We weren’t allowed into the studio until a few minutes before class, when our instructor gave the all-clear. The studio was fairly dark and lit with a few neon lights, kind of like a Flywheel or Soul Cycle. The treadmills were arranged in three rows of thirteen, and the floor was made of a soft spongy material that made me wonder if the owners anticipated people flying off the back of the machines 🙂 And the treadmills themselves were Woodways (regular, not the manually-powered Woodway Curves)… and they rode like a dream.

I used to think that a treadmill was a treadmill was a treadmill, and never understood when people bragged about Woodways. I’ve tried them before, and they seemed nice but not all that great. Today, when I stepped on, though, it felt so cushioned and smooth! I think my recognition of the superiority was because I had just done a few miles yesterday on a hard and bumpy hotel gym treadmill; these Woodways at Mile High felt so wonderful and fluid in comparison. Now I couldn’t wait for the workout!

I was the only newbie in the class, so the instructor gave me a quick primer on how to adjust the speed and incline (he warned me not to use the numbers but just use the arrow keys… not sure why). He also showed me a little laminated card sitting on the monitor that explained what speeds were appropriate for each level. Just like Orangetheory offers a base pace, push pace, and all-out, Mile High offers levels 1, 2, 3, and 4, and the laminated card prescribed a different range of speed for each of those levels based on whether you’re a beginner, intermediate, advanced, or elite.

If you asked me what level of runner I am, I’d say intermediate. Sure, I’ve run a bunch of marathons, but I don’t run every single day, and I don’t consider myself to be particularly speedy. However, based on my experiences in previous treadmill classes, the intermediate speeds looked a little bit slow. I tentatively asked the instructor how long we’d sustain a run at levels 3 and 4, to get a sense of if I was missing something. (Maybe the plan was to spend an entire mile at level 4, in which case intermediate would fit me well!) However, he told me that we’d spend no more than 60 seconds at a time in zone 4, and that it was supposed to be your VO2 max. By that definition, the paces that I should be running were beyond the elite zone! So clearly, Mile High practices the running equivalent of vanity sizing 🙂 I’ll take it!

The workout began with a few minutes at level 1, to allow us to get comfortable with the pace. The instructor told us that level 1 would be the recovery pace we’d come back to whenever we finished an interval set, and so it should be comfortable. He did a really nice job using the talk test to explain each level – level 1 would mean you could talk all day, level 2 would mean you could say a few sentences but it would be a struggle, level 3 would be just eking out a few words, and level 4 would be unable to talk at all. I thought this was really helpful if you didn’t have experience with treadmill pacing / interval workouts! And I put that instruction to use pretty quickly as we entered our first set: striders.

The instructor said striders should be just one minute at a “medium to high level 2”, which for me, meant 7.5 mph. We did one minute intervals, alternated with recovery, and the instructor explained that these were just to dip our toe in the speed waters. Then, it was time for our only hill series of the day: two minutes at level 2 and an 8% incline, followed by a 90 second recovery. The 8% incline surprisingly wasn’t too bad at a 7.5 mph pace, since weren’t sustaining it very long.  We did a few sets of those, and then we got into the real meat of the class: speedwork.

The plan was to do did four blocks of four minutes each, with a 90 second recovery in between. The first was 2 minutes at level 2, then 2 minutes at level 3. The second was 2.5 minutes at level 2, then 1.5 minutes at level 3. And the third was 3 minutes at level 2, then 1 minute at level 3. Throughout, the instructor kept making it sound like it should get harder as we went along, which didn’t make sense to me. I’m running the faster speeds for less time as we progress, so isn’t this easier? But the exhaustion set in and this series definitely tired me out – so for my recovery periods, I ended up doing 45 second walk break followed by 45 second recovery run pace, rather than just running straight through the 90 seconds. Lately I’ve been running around three miles max, and since this was a 45 minute class, I knew I’d be pushing my limit to keep running throughout.

We finished up with two minutes at level 3, followed by a one minute level 4. I pushed it hard on that final one minute, and took my treadmill up to 11mph! This is where I felt like the “vanity sizing” of the pace really came into play – the “elite” pace for level 4 was only 9mph, but that’s really not a tough pace to hold at all for a quick one minute sprint. I was really proud that I took it up a little bit extra, and succeeded in holding it!

My still-red face after class… it was a workout!

Finally, a cooldown: a few minutes of running at whatever pace you’d like. After bringing my heart rate down from the sprint, I actually picked the pace back up a bit so that I could hit an even 5 miles for the class before I moved over to the stretch. I really appreciated that we were allowed to do whatever felt best for us! There have been a few classes at Orangetheory where they’ve insisted that we had to stop running and join in the group stretch, which I didn’t understand. I liked having the freedom to run a little bit longer if I wanted to (for example, to finish with an even number of miles because I like round numbers). Today, I finished my five miles just two minutes later, and it didn’t seem to be a big deal that I had kept going a little bit longer. Some people kept running right up until he opened the door for everyone to leave, so I think you can skip the stretch entirely if you want… not that I advocate that approach!

In all, I loved the Mile High workout. I felt like the time passed fairly quickly, thanks to the great music and how the instructor checked in with just enough encouragement while also letting us zone out from time to time instead of talking continuously. And the 45 minute class was totally doable, even though I haven’t run more than three miles in a while! Now, if only they would bring their methods to Denver or Dallas…

Classes at Mile High are $32/pop, or as low as $24/each if you get a big package. It is a lot of money for a treadmill only class, especially when there are so many Pinterest treadmill workouts out there! But if you have Classpass for $99/month, you can go to Mile High three times a month… which is a pretty fabulous deal. Once again, Classpass seems to win at making the gym awesome yet affordable.


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