CTA Workout

My Chicago Training Authority walk/run plan

Chet Haase
4 min readMar 25, 2024

While living in Chicago, I have developed a thorough and versatile training plan, in conjunction with the city’s public transport system, which I call the CTA Workout. This plan provides a mix of distances and paces, and can be adjusted according to your personal fitness goals and bus schedules. Note that while my plan was developed around the specifics of Chicago’s public transit system (the CTA), you can adjust the details for wherever you live, depending on your needs and the dependability of your city’s transportation infrastructure.

Mon/Wed/Fri: Walk/Run (two-a-days)

These are my main casual-pace training days. They are mostly the same, though I like to take it easier with a slower pace and more walking on Mondays, to ease into the week.

At 6 am, I walk out to the nearest bus stop. I stretch while waiting for both the 6:08 22 bus and the 6:10 36 bus, neither of which arrive. I then jog at an easy pace to the next stop, increasing the pace slightly as I get closer to the stop in case the bus sneaks up on me.

I get in two “verification” stretches during the segment, one when I’m approaching the stop (a quick torso stretch, turning to my left to look for the bus that’s not there), and another deeper stretch when I get to the stop itself, which involves craning my neck and stepping out into the street to ensure that there is still no bus in sight.

I repeat this cycle for every successive bus stop all the way to downtown, starting out each segment at a jog, speeding up at the end, with two verification stretches.

When I finally reach my destination, I take a recovery rest as both buses quickly arrive one after the other. Often the 22 bus is followed immediately by a second 22 bus.

At the end of the day, I return home with a similar walk/run/stretch workout.

Tue/Thu: Speedwork/Intervals (two-a-days)

Tuesdays and Thursdays are my speed workouts.

I start by waking up a little late, necessitating a warm-up jog to get to the stop early enough to catch the 22, which doesn’t arrive on time. I continue jogging laps around the bus stop while the 36 also doesn’t arrive.

This workout is defined by the quick-burst runs between stops. Because I get a late start, I’m really pushing it to make the bus, so I know that when I run between stops a could come at any time and pass me before I reach the next stop. Therefore, I move at a reasonably quick 5k race pace between each stop, with a quick cool-down to wait for the bus that doesn’t arrive. I keep this up until I reach my downtown destination, recovering while the first buses arrive.

At the end of the day, I get in a second workout by reversing the steps above until I reach my home stop at the same time as the buses I wanted to ride.

Saturday: Tempo + Sprint (out & back)

On Saturdays, I like to exercise on the 151 bus route. This route provides a refreshing change from the rest of the week. For one thing it runs along the lakeshore highway briefly, so I can appreciate (if not actually see) the beautiful views just on the other side of the cars and concrete structure, and even listen to the sound of waves during occasional brief breaks in the traffic, sirens, and honking.

More importantly, the 151 has stops that are far enough apart, and separated by turns in the road, such that I have to run at tempo pace to get between the stops to avoid having a bus appear and then pass me as it drives to the next stop. Since this inevitably happens, I also get the chance to kick in with short sprints, moving quickly from tempo pace to an all out sprint in a desperate, doomed attempt to catch the bus before it zooms off again.

Saturdays I have no need to be downtown, so I simply reverse the run when I reach the final stop (marked by when a bus arrives while I am waiting for it) and come back home.

Sunday: Recovery

Sunday is when I recover from all of the hard work my body has done during the week. I do this by taking the train downtown instead of trying and failing to take the bus. The train offers two great opportunities for a well-earned recovery:

  1. Waiting: Since I cannot walk between most stations underground (I don’t enjoy walking through dark tunnels filled with rats and an occasional train), I do not have the option to walk or run between stations. I enjoy this deserved rest period as I wait.
  2. Waiting some more: Like their bus brethren, trains can be unpredictable and delayed, especially on a Sunday, leading to long wait times on the platform. I use this opportunity to stretch, practice my breathing exercises (depending on what the people near me are smoking), and ponder whether it would have been quicker to walk downtown instead.
  3. Catching a ride: Unlike the bus system, trains do usually arrive at the stations (eventually), so I eventually have a restful, seated ride to my destination. For variety, I often stand up, which has the dual benefit of exercising core muscles and avoiding unknown fluids on the seats.

Good luck with your version of my CTA workout. Stay tuned for my upcoming article on strength training via grocery runs.

CTA Workout: Weekly Schedule

This table summarizes my CTA workout, in case you are too busy running to catch the next bus to read the article



Chet Haase

Past: Android development Present: Student, comedy writer Future: ???