The dreadmill, the hamster wheel, the conveyor belt of doom—the treadmill has been subjected to all kinds of cheeky monikers by runners who love to hate it. Often seen as a solitary workout, gym-goers often turn to music or TV shows to distract from the monotony of the miles. But local runners Shiva and Jeff Douse are on a mission to revamp the treadmill’s reputation, one heart-pounding class at a time. This spring they will open RacePace, Houston’s first group running studio at The Silos at Sawyer Yards in Houston's First Ward.
Some may liken it to SoulCycle for runners; a sleek, modern space with up to 25 top-of-the-line treadmills and energetic coaches guiding runners through their workouts. The inspiration for RacePace was actually born out of a dilemma—the Douses are both passionate runners, but they kept finding it difficult to exercise together because they don’t run at the same pace. The idea to turn treadmill workouts into a group effort not only preserves the camaraderie of running, but also allows runners of all speeds to get an individualized, quality workout in the same class.
So why should Houstonians ditch the pavement and give the treadmill a shot? "Treadmill training provides a lot of benefits relative to outdoor running including the ability to [simultaneously coach] runners of all paces, eliminate the uncertainty of weather conditions, create your own hill/incline training in Houston, and dial into a precise pace or metric," Jeff says. "Nobody enjoys training through Houston summers, with 90-plus degree days and 90 percent humidity!" He also notes that their specialized treadmills are designed to be both low-impact and capable of impressive speeds.
RacePace plans to offer a variety of class options that cater to different objectives, whether it be just getting in shape or training for a specific personal record. Although runners can drop in on any class, the coaches can also make individualized recommendations based on a particular goal to ensure the greatest chance of success. The classes will focus on three main categories: the RP Starting Line class is designed for those who are either beginners or starting up again after a long hiatus; RP Speed will aim for runners to master shorter, faster 5k/10k distances, and RP Endurance will help runners build up a base that would easily fit into a half or full marathon training plan.
The Douses also hope to continue to foster the unique spirit of Houston’s running community by balancing indoor treadmill classes with a broader running program, such as races and outdoor long runs on weekends. "The studio will be the heart of RacePace, but we also envision the RacePace community expanding beyond the walls," Jeff says.
Ahead of the projected grand opening of the studio in late April, RacePace has been hosting short Thursday night social runs starting and ending at a local brewery. Be sure to check out their Facebook page for upcoming event details and the official opening date.