FastForward Sports, 1649 North St. Boulder, 303-440-1975, http://new.fastforwardsports.net/
Instructor: Scott Fliegelman, Jean Crowley
What is the workout? The hour-long group workout is a sampler of different training zones for running. We started at the easiest zone and ran for the longest period of time-- 12 minutes, and then ran at progressively faster paces (higher zones) for shorter periods of time throughout the workout. Zones vary from person to person, but zone one is typically slower than a person's marathon pace, and you can generally talk with ease. Zone two makes it a little bit tougher to talk, and is around a marathon to half-marathon pace. Zone three only allows you to speak a few words here and there, and is your 10K to 5K pace. Finally, zone four is faster than your 5K pace and you really shouldn't be able to talk in this zone.
What's different? In uber-competitive Boulder, everyone was relaxed and encouraging. I saw bodies in all shapes and sizes, and everyone -- I mean everyone--high-fived me after the workout. I'm not the biggest fan of running, but this workout didn't feel like a race or like I had to compete with anyone else. Rather than running for a long period of time at once pace, we ran progressively harder as the workout went on. Because I knew how long I'd be running at each pace, it was easy to push myself until the last second.
Cost: Free for your first workout. Then, FastForward Sports hosts various training programs throughout the year ranging from $150 to $329 for a full session (several months)
Level: Varies -- the coaches broke us into three groups based on ability. The 'Fast' group runs an eight-minute mile or faster. I ran with the 'Forward' group, about a nine- or 10-minute mile pace. The 'Sports' group ran an 11-minute mile or slower pace. The workout was challenging, but I didn't feel like passing out afterward.
When: Various weeknights and early mornings throughout the summer, and Saturday mornings.
What to prepare: Read up on the different zones on the FastForward Sports website. If you have one, a watch is helpful for this workout. Also -- a water bottle belt or water bottle carrier for your hand.
Muscles worked: Legs and abs. This cardio-based workout gets your heart pumping, and I wasn't sore at all the next day.
What I loved: The encouraging attitudes of the coaches and other runners. It was a no-pressure workout, but also very productive. I loved running through the various zones then running one pace for an extended period of time (what I tend to do when I run on my own). We ran at the Boulder Reservoir, so the views were pretty great, too.
What I didn't like: I should have brought a water bottle carrier of some sort. Instead, I ran with my bottle in my hand, which meant my right hand was clenched for most of the workout. Almost everyone ran with a heart rate monitor, and I didn't have one, so I felt a bit unprepared.
How I felt after the class: Awesome. Even though I never feel super comfortable running, I felt comfortable during this workout. I pushed myself harder than I thought I could go, and surprisingly, didn't feel like dying afterward. In my book, that's a success.
-- Reported by Sarah Kuta
Know of any interesting workouts? Tell us about them so we can check them out: firstname.lastname@example.org or 303-473-1359.