Having a set running workout can make your training plan far more enjoyable, and far more effective. And incorporating interval training into your running workouts is an easy way to push your limits, because intervals are temporary and you always have rest built in.
In this article, we have three running workouts that will allow you to check your cardio box in 30 minutes or less. Whether you are training for a half-marathon, working to perfect that 5K pace, or no race at all, these interval workouts are guaranteed to improve your running speed, running strength, and running endurance.
Speed play is a great way to build speed, because it shows your muscles what they need to do in order for you to run at a faster pace. Speed play builds that familiarity gradually, so that when you head out on your next run and you up your speed, your body knows what to do and it isn’t surprised.
This speed workout can be done outdoors or on a treadmill. No matter where you are running, you will need a watch or something to keep the time as you go.
For this workout, we will be working based off of perceived effort levels on a scale of 10. You know your body better than anyone. A 10/10 all-out effort will leave you totally gassed, and a 1/10 effort should feel calm and easy.
You can decide what these levels means for your speed, but do push yourself where you can. After all, if it doesn’t challenge you, it will not change you. So, for those higher effort levels, be sure you are running at a hard pace given your skill level. And for your rest intervals, take those at an easy pace. The better your rest is, the harder you can hit those higher effort levels.
Here is the workout:
To start, take a 2-minute warm up jog @ 3/10 perceived effort.
Next, you’ll take the following:
And there is your speed workout. Be sure to do a proper cool down after you finish, and set your body up for proper recovery.
Strength training is key to improving your running. Luckily, this running interval workout will build strength while improving your running.
Hill workouts are an excellent way to build strength for runners. Hill running gets you ready for tough, race-day hills on the course, and it allows you to overtrain for flat running.
This particular interval workout is made to be done a treadmill. Again, we will used perceived effort levels here.
Start with a 3-minute Warm-Up at 2% incline, 3/10 effort. If you’d prefer to sub in some warm up drills instead, consider adding dynamic warm up exercises such as high knees.
3 Minute Cool Down
1% incline, 2/10 effort
For an endurance interval workout, like with the strength workout above, hill workouts or incline workouts are an effective addition. This workout can be done on a treadmill or outdoors if you have a route with rolling, varied hills.
When running on a hill, maintaining proper run form is essential. Give your form extra focus as you head up the hills to prevent injury and get the most out of your runs.
If you are doing this workout outdoors, try to be as accurate as you can with the grade percentages on your hills. If you have a smart phone, consider downloading an app that measures grades. However, if you need to guess a bit here, that is completely fine.
This workout is designed to get your heart rate up and keep it there, increasing your endurance for the long haul. There is minimal speed play in this workout, however your speed will likely vary with the incline.
Again, we’ll be working based off of perceived effort levels. If you are running outside for this interval workout and you only have one hill, you can do hill repeats within the framework of this workout. You can achieve different effort levels by varying your speed.
Here’s the workout:
The first three minutes of your running workout will be the warm up.
Part 1: Warm Up
For the first minute, walk or jog at a 2/10 perceived effort on a 5% incline. For the second minute, go up to a 3/10 effort level on a 4% incline. And for the third minute, you’ll take the incline down to 3% and up the effort level to 4/10.
Part 2: Five Two-Minute Sets
For the first main set of this workout, you will do five rounds at higher effort levels.
#1: To start, run for 90 seconds at a 6/10 effort level on a 2% grade, and then rest for 30 seconds by lowering to a 3/10 effort level, still on 2% incline.
#2: For the second set in this part of the workout: repeat #1 above.
#3: For the third set, run for 90 seconds at 7/10 effort level, still on a 2% grade. Your rest will now be at 4/10 effort, still on 2%.
#4: For the fourth set, repeat #3 above.
#5: For the fifth set, repeat #3 again.
Part 3: 4-Minute Climb
For this hill run, you will be running at 5/10 effort level the whole time. Every minute, however, you will increase the incline.
Start at a 3% incline for the first minute, 4% incline the second minute, 5% incline the third minute, and 6% incline the fourth minute.
Part 4: 3-Minute Cool Down
To cool down, you will run at a 3/10 effort level on a 3% grade for the first minute. For the second minute, jog or walk at a 2/10 effort level on a 2% incline. For the third and final minute, jog or walk at a 1/10 effort level on 1% incline.
And there you have your endurance workout. The high intensity portions of the workout do not last longer than 90 seconds, and all of the increases in effort and incline are gradual. Incorporating hill workouts into your training plan is a great way to steadily and sustainably build your endurance.