We lead very busy lives and try to fit our workouts in a schedule that is already filled with family, job, commuting and ton of other more important things. I often find myself short of time for training so I am always looking for short, but intense and efficient workouts. I can fit these in the lunch break at work or in early morning before work or when the kids are napping…. Of course I still have to fit in regular workouts, especially on weekends or in the evenings when the days get longer and the temperature warmer. The workouts in this article won’t allow you to run a marathon, but will make a short workout still very valuable.
Depending on the available time I have, I try to add 5-10 minutes warm-up/ cool down to the workouts listed below.
Twenty minutes medium pace: run out 11 minutes at a medium pace, then turn around and try to get back to your starting point in the remaining 9 minutes. If you pace yourself well, don’t start too slow or too fast, this is a great workout because you will be running back 20% faster than your way out.
The one minute hill repeats workout is a good workout to fit into 30 minutes. With 1 minute up and 2 minutes job back down you can fit 6-7 hills + warm-up in 30 minutes. After you have tried hills a few times, you can also try to do 1’30”,2′ up and back. This way you will need only 4-5 hill repeats. If you live in a very flat area, you can use the stairs of a tall building or a parking lot (watch for people and cars of course), or a stadium to achieve similar results, or worst case a treadmill with a very big incline!
In a gym you can try and alternate 5 minutes on treadmill and 5 minutes on the stationary bike for 30 minutes total. It’s a good initiation to bricks and you can make it tougher by spinning fast on the bike and then trying to keep a descending pace (faster every 5 minutes) on the treadmill. I consider the treadmill easier than real running (except for the boredom part of it), so to make it reasonably challenging, I always pump up the incline function. Also, if you have good speed, the treadmill can be dangerous: when you start running at 8.5 or 9 miles per hour on a treadmill, if you put one foot in the wrong place and fall the consequences could be very hurtful! So instead of running at 9 miles per hour on a flat treadmill, I run 8 or 7.5 with a big incline.
If you have access to a track the 200m repeat workout can be fit in about 30 minutes.
A great alternative to the 200m repeats is to find a straight stretch of road or better a football or soccer field. Run the diagonal of the field fast, then recover jog along the end line, then run fast another diagonal, recover jog along the other end line and keep going. How many can you do? This is actually harder then the 200m repeats, because the recovery is very short.
If you need to put in a long run, but can’t come up with a full hour all together, you can still try the following: 20 minutes before work, 20 minutes at lunch time, 20 minutes in the evening. The effect on your body will be similar to a full consecutive hour.
And don’t forget a good easy 20 minutes jog. Sometimes we don’t feel like a hard workout. Give your body a break and just go out jogging at a comfortable pace for 20-25 minutes. Enjoy the landscape and just let your legs lead you. You will actually benefit even from this kind of easy workout once in a while…
As you have probably noticed, most of the workouts suggested above don’t give you all the details that you may be expecting. Try to use your imagination. The basic idea is that you want to get your body trained to something new and challenging within only 30 minutes or less. You want to build some lactic acid in your legs. I want to emphasize that everybody is different and each person’s body responds differently to similar stimuli. When I work closely with an athlete and I know him/her, I can give more detailed suggestions, because I have experience on how this person will respond. Those of you that I don’t have the luck to work with on a regular basis, have to use your own sensibility and listen to what your body is telling you. Use my workouts as suggestions and starting points onto which build your own training program. And please give me feedback if you find this article useful. And if you have other workouts that work well for you, please share them with me. There is always room for improvement and learning.