Equinox Class Review: Precision Running

This post is part of my 2017 New Year’s Resolution to try every group fitness class offered at my gym, The Equinox in Chestnut Hill. See the full list of reviews here.

Progress: 32 Classes Down, Approximately 11 To Go (class offerings sometimes change)

Class: Precision Running with Kristen Mercier

Class length: 50 minutes

Description from the Equinox: You don’t have to go outside to blaze new trails. Innovated by David Siik*, Precision Running is redefining our indoor treadmill training with the only method-driven program in the industry. Run smart, hurt less and burn more through a patterned flow that constantly switches up speed, time and incline to ignite potential and keep you in the running zone.

*You may also enjoy my post about taking Precision Running with David Siik and when he visited Equinox Chestnut Hill, as well as his inside scoop on the incoming Precision Running Lab.

What Class Was Like

Interval training on the treadmill! An efficient running workout to build your cardio base and VO2 max.

This class uses your 1 minute PR pace as a marker for determining your pace for each interval. (1 minute per mile slower, 2 minutes per mile slower, 30 seconds per mile faster, etc.) This allows everyone to participate at the “just right” level for them, and since you’re controlling the treadmill you can modify incline or pace as needed.

Class changes week to week, and all precision running programs go through an Equinox vetting process before being used. I heard that the week prior intervals were 2 minutes long, so regular attendees can expect a variety of interval types.

Beginner Friendly?

I was nervous attending class because I used to be a much stronger runner than I am right now, but because it was so customizable to my current pace all I had to do was work hard for 45 seconds, recover, and repeat. Those 45 seconds would have been faster a year ago, but that didn’t keep me from getting the most out of class now.

I was afraid the class would be 50 minutes of continuous running (which would be hard for me right now), but it’s not. Runners who can run a 5k should be able to complete this class.

Runners who aren’t at a 5k could probably also complete the class since the interval/recover formula is similar to the walk/run strategy people should use to build up to a 5k. They’ll just need to be cautious and make sure their running segments are appropriately slow. Class may be more enjoyable for those who can comfortably run 3 miles going in. I recommend talking to the instructor before class if you hope to use it to begin running. Kristen was familiar with previous participants and checked in with people about old injuries and encouraged those who made modifications; I suspect she’d be very helpful if a beginner showed up with questions.

Sample Workout

Here’s how the intervals were structured the day I went:

  • Warm up
  • 45 second intervals at 1 minute per mile slower than PR pace with one-minute recovery in between. With each subsequent interval, the incline went up by 1%. Treadmill started flat and ended after the 9th interval at an 8% incline.
  • Two minute recovery.
  • 45 second intervals with a 90 second recovery, starting at 8% incline and reducing incline by 1% AND speeding up .3 mph on the treadmill with each subsequent interval.
  • Two minute recovery / cool down.
  • Some abdominal work and stretching.

 

Who would love it?

Great for runners looking for guided interval work, or people who run for fitness and want a great cardio workout. It’s motivating to be in a group and (like any exercise class) it may be easier to do more and stick with the entire workout when you’re in a group setting guided by an instructor.

It can be easy to get into a rut with intervals; for example, I almost never use incline and tend to favor 400 meter repeats on the track. Attending Precision Running is a good way to keep it fresh and complete a variety of vetted workouts with the added accountability of a group setting.

 

Know before you go

It’s helpful to know your 1 minute PR pace prior to class. See how far you make it around a track in 1 minute, or use the treadmill, or use a GPS watch outside. Here’s a pace calculator that might help: http://www.coolrunning.com/engine/4/4_1/96.shtml

This class takes place on the treadmill bank in the regular cardio machine area.

Bring a towel to use during class and to lay on the treadmill for ab exercises if needed.

It says online that headphones are required, but we didn’t use them for our class.

Definitely bring a water bottle!

Note for those doing half marathon / marathon training

I ran fewer than 3 miles in the 50-minute class because of the recovery time between intervals. The time spent at high effort (18 intervals of 45 seconds each) only added up to 13 and a half minutes, so probably only about 1.5 miles of my total class distance was hard running. Based on my own personal experience training for race distances, that interval mileage is close to what you might find in a 5k training plan and less than what you’d commonly find training for longer race distances. My most successful half marathon was after using a plan that had me doing 3 miles of intervals once a week, about 5-6 miles of total running with recovery. On the other hand, before my first half marathon I didn’t do any interval training at all and this class would have helped immensely. You should be the judge of whether this amount of interval training jives with your current running base and training plan.

PS – Check Out My New Shoes!

If you’ve been following my spring plantar fasciitis drama you might remember that Dr. Caddoo recommended I get very flexible minimalist shoes to run in and ease into them slowly while building up the muscles in my feet.

My new Vapor Glove 2 shoes by Merrell are definitely flexible. They’ve got basically no cushion, lots of wiggle room in the toe box, and bend easily enough to allow my foot its natural range of motion while I run.

My feet feel great after using them in Precision Running, but I’m going to start by using them every other run to make sure I’m building muscles and easing into them.

 

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