Quality Training Sessions in 30 mins


For when time is short, and you only have 30 mins spare (that includes time to warm up/cool down) are there any sessions people can recommend?

I'm just looking for ideas (speedwork, fartlek, tempo) to jazz up my lunchtime runs (I get an hours break, so 30 mins running is all I have time for given the time to change, shower and eat a sarnie), and my pre-gym session runs (again about 30 mins)

The lunchtimes runs are generally flat, but my pre-gym runs usually very undulating. Unfortinately no matter which direction I go from my house or the gym I encounter some serious hills! 

I can cover about 4 miles in 30 minutes, on a flat or gently undulating route.

Thanks - looking forward to hearing some ideas...I have rather been stuck in the rut of 'I've only got 30 mins, I'll just run 30 mins at a steady pace' image


  • Good old interval training. Based on your 4 miles in 30mins:

    1 mile warm up - TIME: approx 6.5 mins

    6x 400m (0.25 miles) @ X pace (X being 10k or 5k) with 60 sec recoveries TIME (approx) 16 minutes

    OR (not AND!)

    4x 800m (0.5miles) @ X pace with 90 sec recoveries TIME (approx) 20 minutes

    1 mile warm down - TIME: approx 6.5 mins

  • I'd need a warm up for the warm up ! 6.5min miles to ease you in !
  • Typo! Meant to get rid of the word 'mile' in the post - should just be 6.5 mins warm up / cool down
  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    so no need to warm up for 800s then Johnas? image

  • 10 minute warm up

    200m @ 5k pace x 7 with decreasing rest intervals of 90 secs, 75 sec, 60 secs, 45 secs, 30 secs, 15 secs, 90 secs and repeat 3 times !

    10 minute cool down

    Tinker with the reps to sut the time available

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    ps I get it know Johnas image

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    ps I get it now Johnas image

  • Stevie  GStevie G ✭✭✭

    (damm this website publishing my unforgiveable spell)

  • Spit it out SGimage

    Something simpler then? Progression run!

    10min easy/ 10min Steady / 10 mins threshold
  • Threshold session?

    5min warm up; 3x 6mins threshold off 60 sec recoveries; 5 min cool down
  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭

    If you believe today's Guardian you can get fit in around 4 minutes:


    Think positive thoughts, banish negative ideas and visualize your success
  • Thank you for the replies!

    Johnas - thanks for the ideas. I will try them. I was worried about the 1 mile in 6.5 mins - that's my flat out pace image

    M..eldy - thanks for the 200m rep session idea. The 5k pace sounds quite steady for a 200m rep, but the decreasing rest peroids would makes it tougher.

    Alehouse - cant believe these papers! My calf stretches alone take 4 minutes to do.

    Is threshold similar to 5k race pace? e.g. 3 miles in 21?

    Thanks again.

  • alehouse - what's your thoughts on it?

    LTS - yeah sorry. forget the 'mile' bit - just warm up for 6.5 mins. threshold is 3 -4 word controlled discomfort effort. some put it at the pace you can maintain for an hour so if you run a 10k in an hour, it's 10k pace. if 10 miles in an hour, 10 mile pace.

    You could always use the McMillan or RW pace calculator to get training paces for easy/steady/threshold based on a recent race performance.

  • PhilPubPhilPub ✭✭✭

    I suppose the "meat" section of any number of interval sessions might only take 20 mins or so but the faster you intend running, the more proper warm-up you'd want.  For me, if you've only got 30 mins total, you would get most bang-for-your-buck doing a sort of progressive tempo run.  Something like 5 min w/u, then 20 mins tempo working from marathon pace, through threshold and finishing off @ 10k pace, maybe 5k pace towards the end, and 5 mins c/d.  So 5 mins isn't really long enough for a proper warm-up, but if you're easing up towards a decent tempo rather than hitting it straight off, that would be sensible enough. 

    If you wanted to structure it so that you could compare across different runs, maybe pre-set timed intervals to work through the paces, e.g. 5mins @ MP... 10mins @ threshold... 5mins @10k.  Play around with the intensities to suit how you normally train, e.g. if you know you can do a threshold run @ 85% max HR, progress through 80% - 85% - 88% or whatever.


  • i think keeping it simple is best. I like the progression run idea that Johnas mentions.

    10mins at something fairly easy (6/10 effort) to get you warmed up

    10mins steady (7/10 effort) to get you in the groove

    10 mins threshold (8/10 effort) to get a sweat on.

    maybe make it 9mins each, giving you 3 mins to cool down at the end. If you want a quality session at lunchtime you'll get sweaty though, so factor in time for a shower, or your colleagues may beat you to death

  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭

    Re the Guardian link, I think you would have to be pretty fit in the first place to do it! Probably need to be young, no injury issues/biomechanically sound etc. Well warmed up, too, as Phil says. I can see that there will be benefits, but as part of a bigger programme, especially if racing above 5k. Not sure how sustainable this type of training is: sounds like a recipe for feeling burnt out after a few weeks.

    Suggested sessions:

    1. 8 mins warm up, 3 x 4 mins hard, with walk 2 mins recovery between each, 6 mins warm down = 30. You would need to build up to this session by doing  2 or 3 x 2 mins/2.5 mins etc etc.

    2. 8 mins warm up, 6 mins warm down, with 1 40 second run every 2 minutes at close to max so you just finish the seesion (but could do 2 more if pushed!). Preferably on a slight gradient, with the first part of recovery walk, then jog.

    If you were to run 4 times a week I would do 2 x 30 minutes steady say Mon and Weds, with the hard stuff Tues and Thurs. The key things are progression over time, and above all consistent consistency: getting out there and doing it week in week out.

    Think positive thoughts, banish negative ideas and visualize your success
  • Alehouse - I can understand it may improve cardio fitness but it's not very running specific. there's no real substitution for us runners other than long runs, tempo and interval training IMO

  • alehousealehouse ✭✭✭

    Johnas, I agree..miles in the legs, some of them slow, some of them quicker, which is why, given the time constraints of this thread I was suggesting the above four sessions...and if more 30 minute slots were available I would, at least initially, prescribe more steady runs.

    Think positive thoughts, banish negative ideas and visualize your success
  • Alehouse - thanks. It really was something to break up the monotony, so those 4 sessions you recommend are just the ticket!

    I save the longer runs for club training, evenings and weekends. I have a very good running base as I've run consistently for 20+ years and regularly hit 30+ miles a week...it was just a solution for lunchtimes. It seems an effort to get changed twice, have a shower, etc and bolt food down for a steady run, hence why I thought 1 speedwork session a week would be a good idea.

    At the end of the day though - I'd rather do something rather than nothing, so even a short 3.5mile run is better than being stuck at my desk. Work have a habit of arranging meetings at 1pm to be fair to those people in my office who have to leave at 3pm for the school run, but it does mean lunchtimes can be rushed.

    i'm doing something a bit different today and running home from work. It's great to have hte flexibility to train at different times of the day...I guess I will be a lot more restricted once I have a family!

    Thank you again for the good advice here and training ideas here. image

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