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Let the Mile High Run Club Be Your Running Coach

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Welcome to Workout Wednesday: every hump-day, we'll be rounding up some of the city's hottest fitness trends and studios.

"I already know how to use a treadmill, the most boring piece of fitness equipment ever," you likely thought when you heard a treadmill gym was coming to the bustling fitness scene in Noho. But taking a class at the Mile High Run Club, which debuted in November, isn't your typical jogging-in-place routine.

"I've seen people alone at the gym on treadmills my whole career," explained Debora Warner, MHRC's founder and program director who's coached hundreds of runners privately. They're just so all on their own—they're not running properly, and their technique looks off. From a trainer's perspective, it just looks like wasted time." With two class types that cover students of all speeds, Warner's aiming to change how we view running.

The studio offers two classes—the Dash 28 for all levels include 28 minutes of running and ten minutes of off-treadmill strength training, while The Distance targets more advanced athletes with 50 consecutive minutes of running tempo, hills, and sprints. Clearly, The Distance is something to work up to.

By the time my Dash 28 class began on an early Tuesday evening, most students were already at a brisk walk or a light jog on the studio's Woodway treadmills, perched upon black turf and bathed in the soft neon lights backlighting mirrors against the wall. Instructor Andia Winslow (a former hottest trainer contestant) led us off the treadmills and into warmups that gave me flashbacks to the high school track team: high knees, butt kicks, and active stretches for lower body joints.

Then it was back on the treadmill for a quick jog, followed by three running sessions: hills, sprints, and a combination of those two. "The interval training is the key to becoming a better runner," Warner said of the class structure. "One doesn't necessarily see fitness gains, or improvements in endurance, without doing the speed training."

Each treadmill has a placard card in front of its digital screen that breaks down the range of speeds a student should be aiming for in a particular interval, depending on whether she considers herself a novice "jogger" or advanced "runner." So when Winslow calls out for a sprint, or a recovery, each student can pick a pace they feel comfortable challenging themselves with. She was also quick to remind us that when she called for an increase in speed or incline, the option to maintain your current numbers, if they feel strenuous, always remained.

These customizations make a student's experience in the class "personalized, even though it's a group setting," said Warner "One person could be running at nine miles per hour, and another could be running at six [mph] in the same speed training interval. Everyone can work at their own individual effort level."

Meanwhile, to distract yourself from sprinting up a five-percent incline, Winslow constantly called out form cues: "Keep your head up!" "Pump your arms, but not across your body!" "Lift your knees on the incline!" It felt as if I was in a personal training session, but without the crazy costs.

While running makes up two-thirds of the class, the last part is dedicated to strength training, followed by a cool-down stretch that lasts longer compared to those in other boutique classes. The former included lunges, squats, and arm rows with lighter and heavier kettlebells, followed by core work in the form of planks.

"Running is quad-dominant, and there's strength imbalances between the front and back of the leg that could cause injury," Warner said, which is why most of the strength training in MHRC's classes focused on the glutes and hamstrings. "it's very important for runners to strengthen the posterior chain … Strengthening the butt is very beneficial for powering up the hills."

45 sweat-drenched minutes later, I felt a lot more energized leaving that class than I do when I do an even-paced treadmill jog on my own. "The treadmill's a great training tool when used properly," Warner summarized. If you're going to be running indoors, you should "have fun, have music, and have a coach who can give you some tips. Why not make it the best it can be?"

· Mile High Run Club [Official Site]
· Workout Wednesday [Racked NY]
· So You Want to Run the NYC Marathon? Here's Where to Start [Racked NY]