Indoor Track in the Twin Cities Minnesota?
September 15, 2010 8:55 AM   Subscribe

Recommend an indoor running track in the Twin Cities, Minnesota?

I'm totally new to running. I finished Couch to 5k in August, did a road race, and am now almost up to 5 miles. I love the way running feels and I want to keep exercising throughout the winter to fight the blues that I always seem to get. The first part of my Keep It Up Even When It's Super Fricking Cold plan is that I have another race scheduled for Thanksgiving (just a Turkey-trot/fun-run type of thing).

The second part of my plan of attack is that I want to be able to have a few options for running. If it's not TOO cold, I'll still go outside, but I'm unsure about those super cold or icy days. I have a vision of running around a huge and shiny indoor track. Is this even a possibility?

One example would be the Fieldhouse at the U of M:

Does a place like that let anyone pay a membership fee and come use it? Or would I have to be a student at the U, or even Officially On The Track Team to get in there?

Another example is the Sports Center in Blaine:

Looks amazing, but do they let in just any riffraff for a winter jog, or would I have to pay $345 an hour to rent the whole thing for myself?

So if huge tracks are not available, then how about smaller tracks (14 laps per mile and the like)? Anyone care to share an experience about using those? I found this list of venues that I'm going to look into more, but I guess I'm looking for further reviews and advice.

Another option would be to find a treadmill, of course. I'm not against treadmills. But I kind of like the idea of finding a new and interesting place to add to my repertoire of places to run, and I also currently kind of like the idea of forward motion while running.

Any thoughts or advice are much appreciated!
posted by TheClonusHorror to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
YWCA Midtown. $55 monthly and there never seems to be a whole lot of traffic on it.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 9:05 AM on September 15, 2010

You have to be student, faculty, or alumni to purchase a membership or day pass to University of Minnesota sports facilities, with the exception of the St. Paul campus gym. (more info here)

They offer indoor running at the Metrodome (or "Mall of America Field," sigh). It is pretty huge, 2 1/2 laps = one mile.

Or at least they did last year: the Minnesota Distance Runners Association did Dome Running on Tuesday and Thursday evenings for $1 admission. Their website only lists info up to spring '10 so I am not sure if they're doing it this winter, or if they are just slow to update their website.
posted by castlebravo at 9:32 AM on September 15, 2010

YWCA Uptown has one, too, and last winter at any given time of day it was pretty much just me, and a couple of well dressed older gentlemen in shiny New Balance walking shoes.

It's not really all that shiny, though. It's actually almost a little grim. You're up above the gym below, and all the walls and rails are kind of beige, and there's nothing on the walls and it's a bit claustrophobic. But I did okay getting into my head and just rocking it out. Sometimes I'd run around the track part of the time and on a treadmill part of the time, to mix it up.

A YW membership gets you in to all the Minneapolis facillities, so you could mix it up that way too--I haven't seen the Midtown track and I'm not sure they have one at Downtown, but they could be vastly different from the Uptown track.

I bless the hearts of the folks I'd see out there in five degrees and pouring snow, running around the lakes with their little spiky-deals stretched over their shoes. I just can't do that yet.
posted by padraigin at 9:38 AM on September 15, 2010

MDRA Dome running is the way to go, combine that with a nice outside run if you can stand it.

The midtown YWCA track is super nice. If you're looking to join an entire facility, it's totally worth it.
posted by advicepig at 10:07 AM on September 15, 2010

I am not a runner but I am a serial fitnes-center-joiner. Here's what I know:

A YMCA membership would be great if you like variety. They have locations all over the Twin Cities, many of which have indoor tracks in addition to all sorts of other fitness equipment. I believe membership at one will get you in to all of them.

Many communities also have fitness centers. For example, the city of Eagan has a nice fitness center with an indoor track.

For a less expensive option, you could also check into local community education offerings; for example, high schools in the South Washington County school district open their indoor tracks and fitness areas to the public in the evenings. $2 will get you onto the track for a day. More info (pdf) here. I'm sure other school districts have similar programs.

I have found that I am much more likely to go somewhere to exercise if it is very close to home or on my commute. You might want to consider that if you are thinking long term.
posted by beandip at 10:12 AM on September 15, 2010

The midtown YWCA track is super nice. If you're looking to join an entire facility, it's totally worth it

Yep. Only 10 years old, clean and well maintained plus you get use of the pool and all exercise facilities.
posted by DieHipsterDie at 10:17 AM on September 15, 2010

Also, YWCA midtown track is longer than other Y*CA tracks I've run on in Mpls, so there's a bit less of the hamster-on-a-wheel feel. You still get that feel, but not nearly as bad. I think it's 6 laps to mile, as oppose to 10/mile at the downtown YMCA (which, on the other hand, DOES have a pretty rad view of the city as you run). Blaisdell YMCA used to have a frustratingly tiny track; I think they've expanded, but I still doubt it compares with the Midtown YW.
posted by COBRA! at 10:29 AM on September 15, 2010

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