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You’re up and ready to go. 

You got your gear on, and the weather has cleared up for your run, but one question remains. What running workout are you going to do today? Running is a fantastic exercise with many benefits, but running with a plan is even better.  

When you want to focus on your run and get the most out of the time you have, then choosing from the running workouts below is your best bet. Below we’ll dive into running workouts ranging from beginner interval running to hill running. 

Whether you are marathon training, new to running, or want to improve your running economy, we have you covered with the different types of running workouts below. Let’s strap on the shoes, and let’s go. 

Running Workout for Beginners

When starting your running journey, you need to build endurance and get your bones, muscles, and joints accustomed to the impact that running has. Your training plan should include building your cardio fitness and adjusting to the vigors of running, which is best done and progressed slowly.

Because the last thing you want is to get injured. Here you’ll run for a certain distance or time, walk for a certain distance or time, gradually reduce the time you walk, and increase the time you run. Here is an example:

Running workout for beginners

10 Rounds:

  • Run for 1 minute
  • Walk for 2 minutes 

Each week, add 30 seconds to the time you run (keeping the walking time the same) until you reach 10 minutes of continuous running training.

Fartlek Running Workout

Fartlek is Swedish for speed play, where the pace continually varies to eliminate boredom and to improve your speed and aerobic endurance. Fartlek running workouts are either performed on the road or a treadmill, and here we will include both. Include fartlek training when you’re getting ready for a half-marathon or marathon training because distance runners need some speed work. 

Treadmill Fartlek Workout

Treadmill fartlek workout
  • Warm up by walking for five minutes at 3.0 miles per hour at a 3% incline
  • Run at a moderate pace for 1 minute at a 1% incline
  • Jog at a low-intensity pace for 30 seconds at a 1% incline
  • Run at a fast pace for 30 seconds to 1 minute
  • Jog at a low-intensity pace for 30 seconds at a 1% incline
  • Continue varying speed and length of time until you reach 25 minutes
  • Cool down with an easy run for 5 minutes at 3.5 MPH at a 3% incline

Fartlek Road Workout

5 Rounds: 

  • Jog at a leisurely pace for 5 minutes
  • Run at a faster pace for 1 minute 
  • Jog for 2 minutes
  • Cool down and jog for 5 minutes

Add one interval per week until you reach eight intervals.

Tempo Run

Tempo runs improve your lactate threshold (you know, feeling the burn) to help you improve your aerobic capacity and the ability to go hard for longer. Think of tempo runs as HIIT (high-intensity interval training). A tempo run pace is running around 85 to 90% of your maximum heart rate, or running 30 seconds slower than your usual per-mile race pace. 

If you are new to tempo running, know your per-mile pace and maximum heart rate before you start. Here is an example of a tempo run.

RELATED: Post-Run Stretches

tempo run
  • Jog for 5 to 10 minutes
  • Tempo pace run (around or above your marathon pace) for 1 to 2 miles
  • Run at an easy for 1 to 3 miles
  • Jog and cool down for 5-10 minutes

To progress, increase the distance of your tempo run by .25-.50 miles when you are ready. 

Speed Workout

Just as you do in fartlek and interval training, during speed workouts, you vary between fast, moderate, and easy paces to improve your overall speed and endurance. If you’re new to speed running workouts, the one-to-one speed work/rest interval training is a great start.

speed workout
  • Jog at a leisurely pace for 5 minutes
  • Jog at a moderate pace for 5 minutes
  • Run fast for 1 minute
  • Run easy for 1 minute
  • Repeat 10 times for a total of 20 minutes
  • Cool down at an easy pace for 5 minutes

Add one fast/easy interval per week until you reach 20 intervals.

Running Pyramid Workout

A pyramid running workout involves running at high intensity for a certain distance alternated with a period of low intensity and repeated at either increasing or decreasing distance. You go up and down the pyramid. Ideally, these are performed at a 400-meter track, but can be done on the road in half-mile increments. 

Here’s an example. 

running pyramid workout graphic
  • Warm up for 10 minutes of jogging and include some activation exercises like high knee skips and Frankensteins. 
  • 2×400m high intensity with 200m recovery jog
  • 1×800m high intensity with 400m recovery jog
  • 1×1200m high intensity with 800m recovery jog
  • 1×400 high intensity with 400m recovery jog
  • Cool down with 5-10 minutes of jogging

Tabata Running Workout

Tabata is a protocol that uses 20 seconds of a very hard effort with 10 seconds rest and repeat for eight rounds. This workout is intense, and is ideal for runners with a high fitness level and a good aerobic base rather than for those new to cardio exercise. This workout can be performed on a treadmill, road, or track. 

RELATED: The Surprising Benefits of Tabata

tabata running workout graphic

Warm up with a jog at an easy pace for 3 to 5 minutes.

8 Rounds:

  • Run all out for 20 seconds
  • Walk or rest for 10 seconds

Cool down for five minutes. 

Running Interval Workout 

Just about anyone can do and benefit from interval training, including beginners and advanced runners. 

An interval workout is high-intensity running alternating with low-intensity running, walking, or rest.  Interval workouts are done for time or distance and use a work-to-rest ratio. A 1:1 work-rest ratio could look like 30 seconds of hard work with 30 seconds at a slower pace, or a 400-meter run with a 400-meter walk.  Other work rest ratios to use here are 1:2 and 1:3. 

interval running workout

Jog lightly for 5 minutes

4 to 6 Rounds:

  • Run fast for 30 seconds 
  • Walk or jog for 30-90 seconds

Recovery run for a five-minute cooldown.

Hill Workout

Running hills uses similar muscles and intensity as sprinting with the added muscular development that comes with moving across challenging terrain. The trick here is to find hills in your neighborhood to help take your fast running speed to a new level. You can also use an incline treadmill if you don’t have an accessible hill. 

Here’s a beginner hill workout to try:

hill running workout
  • Dynamic warm-up, including high knee skips, bodyweight squats, and reverse lunges before jogging
  • Jog for 5 to 10 minutes

4 Rounds:

  • Run fast up the hill 
  • Walk slowly down the hill
  • Take 10 seconds to catch your breath, then start the next sprint

Cool down with an easy jog for 5 to 10 minutes.

Running Workouts: Q&A

What is a good workout for running?

There are many types of workouts for runners. We think interval running is a fantastic way to build speed, stamina, and endurance. You can also get an excellent workout in a short amount of time when you run intervals. An example of this would be running at a hard pace for 30 seconds, running at an easy pace for 30 seconds, and repeating for five to 10 rounds.

Cross-training is also important. Many runners don’t think they need to strength train their legs because they think running is enough. But they are wrong. A good workout for runners reduces their injury risk and helps improve running efficiency. Running is hamstring-dominant, so including exercises that build strength in the quads and glutes, like squats, hip thrusts, and lunges, is advisable. 

RELATED: Cross-Training for Runners

What does 30 minutes of running do?

Keeping your runs to 30 minutes or less when you are not training for anything in particular or beginning your running journey reduces the risk of muscle fatigue and overuse injuries. Running for 30 minutes or less has been shown to reduce anxiety and depression1 without the use of medication. 

Is 30 minutes of running a day enough?

Generally, running for 30 minutes daily is a great thing to do for your health, and it is enough. But when you combine running with resistance training, you’ll get the benefits of both worlds to be a better runner and a stronger person. 

It also depends on what your goals are. If you want to participate in long-distance races, then running 30 minutes likely won’t be enough. If you want to simply meet daily movement requirements, then 30 minutes of running is great.

Can you get in shape by running?

Yes, you will develop good cardiovascular fitness by running, aiding your weight-loss goals in combination with a calorie-controlled diet. Combining running and strength training is your best bet when you want to get in better shape and reduce any injury risk from running.

References

  1. Guszkowska M. [Effects of exercise on anxiety, depression and mood]. Psychiatr Pol. 2004 Jul-Aug;38(4):611-20. Polish. PMID: 15518309.

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