As a teenager, I hated to run. Although I spent a lot of time on the treadmill trying to walk the pounds away, I never went faster than 4.5 miles per hour. If, for some reason, I was forced to move faster, I became convinced that I had a heart problem as I got out of breath. Never did I consider that I might just be out of shape. So deciding to try Precision Running over a year ago was challenging for me. Yes, I had made a lot of progress with weight training. And I could do 200 burpees in a row. But would I be able to run a mile without stopping? The answer was yes — and, for a while, I was hooked on Precision Running.
Precision Running GRADES
QUALITY OF WORKOUT: 9
One doesn’t need to be a professional marathoner or even a former high school track team member to start with Precision Running. Each student begins the class based on their own PR, or personal fastest that he or she can run in a minute. For many in the class, that speed is almost a power walk at 6 miles per hour. For others who are more experienced, they may run at up to 12 miles per hour. Personally , I work with a PR of 9 miles per hour.
Each Precision Running class plays with intervals of speed, incline, and recovery. In some classes, you may even be asked to go beyond the PR you set, although typically for less than a minute. Most recently, the class I attended was called STIR, which stands for speed, time, incline, and recovery. The four segments of class addressed these components individually, with a two minute break in between segments:
During this section, we worked in two minute intervals, with one minute of work and one minute at a recovery speed (which is usually a light jog or fast walk). We began at two miles below our PR and ended the segment at our PR.
In this segment, we ran at two miles below our PR for each work interval, with a minute of recovery in between. However, each work interval got longer, starting at 75 seconds and ending at two full minutes. While two miles below your PR isn’t necessarily fast, it can definitely be an uncomfortable speed to maintain for long periods of time.
In this segment, we also ran at two miles below our PR, but at increasing inclines. Starting at an incline of five, we ended around an incline of eight, which was a pretty steep hill. Since I kept the incline on even during the recovery intervals, my legs definitely felt this section the next day.
If you’re like me, you may have thought that this segment would be the one in which we would recover. To my despair, it wasn’t. Instead, we played with one minute work intervals at two miles below our PR, but with decreasing recovery time. At the end, when recovery was shortened to 30 seconds, by the time you got back to your recovery speed, it was time to push your speed back up.
After the recovery segment, we ended with a one-minute forearm plank with our arms on the treadmill and our feet on the ground. Some instructors incorporate a full ab circuit here (up to five minutes), but that depends on how long the run is scheduled for.
Precision Running is a mental challenge as much as a physical one. Unlike in other group fitness classes, there’s no catchy playlist to keep you moving past your limit. You have yourself, the instructor, and the other sweaty and out-of-breath students around you.
SIZE OF CLASS: Small
Most Precision Running classes are capped around 12-15 students. The reason for this limit is that the class actually takes place among the cardio machines at the gym. Particularly during peak gym hours, some treadmills need to be reserved for gym-goers not attending the Precision Running class. Another limitation is that it can be difficult to hear the instructor well on the cardio floor, so students need to run on treadmills that are relatively close together. Theoretically, students are supposed to plug their headphones into the treadmill to hear the instructor over a radio frequency. However, the sound quality on these radios, when they even work, tends to be quite poor.
Precision Running is designed to challenge beginners and experienced runners alike. Because students work with their own personal bests, this class is typically pretty difficult, but not impossible, for any student who decides to attend.
THE BOTTOM LINE
Precision Running is a great class for experienced runners and for students who are intimidated by running. If you attend consistently, you’ll notice improvement quickly. And time flies when someone gives you instructions for your treadmill time, rather than trying to design your own run.
- Bring water, since you’ll probably sweat a lot. Same goes for a hand towel.
- Wake up early to book this one, since spots fill up quickly. However, note that lots of people drop. Since there are so few spots, this can often mean that even if you’re pretty low on the waitlist, you might get in.
- Get there a few minutes before the class to get to know your treadmill and walk for a bit. This class can be a bit difficult to start if you’re groggy or made it at the last minute.