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30-Minute Running Workout

A Killer 30-Minute Treadmill Workout That Will Whip You Into Shape

When you're in need of a quick cardio session, the first thing you probably do is lace up your running shoes. While getting on a treadmill is a great way to get your heart rate up, it's best to go in with a plan so you don't end up aimlessly jogging. This fat-blasting workout will ward off boredom, improve your endurance, and boost your cardiovascular health. And it only takes 30 minutes.

I did this exact workout a couple of weeks ago with Michael Olzinski, MSc, Purplepatch endurance coach and Equinox run coach, and I'm not exaggerating when I say it was one of the toughest treadmill workouts I've ever done (by the end, I'm pretty sure I was hurling profanities at Mike). I'm not an advanced runner by any means — the only race I've ever done was a 5K — so if I can get through this workout, anybody can.

"This is an incredibly efficient and varied workout for all levels of athletes, from someone just looking for a structured way to start integrating running into their routine to a trained professional who needs to pack in some efficient extra miles," Mike told POPSUGAR. It originally hails from David Siik of Equinox, but Mike has tweaked and modified it to suit any fitness level.

"The real beauty of a great running session is that you spend the majority of the time warming up, preparing, and building your effort so that you finish running your absolute best and in your best form," Mike said. "The typical runner will generally just hop on a treadmill and crank up the speed until they are out of breath or can't do much more. Then they'll stop and try it again. That is a very mediocre and monotonous way to train, and it doesn't leave much area for improvement."

Follow the outline of this well-designed session, though, and you won't make that mistake.

The Workout

"There are three main speeds you will need to know," Mike explained. Figure out these numbers for yourself and you won't have to do much thinking throughout the workout. Mike recommends you start on the low end of what you think you can do. You can always adjust if you need to.

  • Hard effort: "This is a speed that you could not hold for very long, and that would push you towards very labored breathing. However, it is not a sprint. Remember: this is training, not a race (on a treadmill, maybe this is an 8.0 mph run)."
  • Moderate effort: "Very simple. This will start out a full 1.0 mph below your hard effort."
  • Easy effort: "This will start out as 1.0 mph below your moderate effort."

When you have those figured out, here is how the workout will actually go. First you'll go through a dynamic warmup, and Mike strongly advises you don't gloss over this part. "Do not skip or be lazy on your warmups. This is a very important part of the session, and your chance to improve the way you run if you do this frequently enough," he told POPSUGAR.

Then you'll go into the main set, which starts with incline work for nine minutes. After that, take a two-minute recovery. Try to stay at a jogging pace, but if you're feeling really winded, you can walk it out.

The second part of the main set is speed work, all done on a fairly flat surface (Mike suggested a 1.5 percent incline). This is where you really push your limits and see how fast you can go. You'll have to do a little math here, as you'll be adding a touch of effort onto every one of your speeds. For example, if the speed says "Easy + 0.3 mph" and your easy speed is normally 5.0, then your new speed will be 5.3.

Try to have fun with it!

Time Speed Incline Notes
0:00-5:00 Jog or walk 1.0 Start at a comfortable pace, just to get the blood flowing
5:00-10:00 Jog or walk 1.0 Dynamic running drills, like high knees, butt kicks, fast feet, or jumping jacks
10:00-11:00 Easy 3.0 Increase incline
11:00-12:00 Moderate 3.0
12:00-13:00 Hard 3.0
13:00-14:00 Easy 4.0 Increase incline
14:00-15:00 Moderate 4.0
15:00-16:00 Hard 4.0
16:00-17:00 Easy 5.0 Increase incline
17:00-18:00 Moderate 5.0
18:00-19:00 Hard
19:00-21:00 Jog or walk 1.0 Recover
21:00-22:00 Easy + 0.3 mph 1.5 Incline stays the same from here to the end
22:00-23:00 Moderate + 0.3 mph 1.5
23:00-24:00 Hard + 0.3 mph 1.5
24:00-25:00 Easy + 0.6 mph 1.5 Increase your speed
25:00-26:00 Moderate + 0.6 mph 1.5
26:00-27:00 Hard + 0.6 mph 1.5
27:00-28:00 Easy + 1.0 mph 1.5 Increase your speed for the last time
28:00-29:00 Moderate + 1.0 mph 1.5
29:00-30:00 Hard + 1.0 mph 1.5

And that's it; you're done! You should be pretty spent after this workout. If you're not, you should probably tack on some more speed next time. I was drenched in sweat when I got done with this session, but later that evening I felt like a million bucks.

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