Sometimes, a long workout just is not going to happen. You may be traveling, stressed at work, or crunched on time for any reason. While many runners dismiss a 30 minute run as too short, you still get benefits from a short run. This short 30 minute fartlek running workout adds in a bit of intensity. While a majority of your runs should be an easy effort, this fartlek provides a quick and simple high intensity stimulus when you might not have time for a full track workout.
Embrace the 30-minute run. Distance runners can possess a mentality that longer is better. However, a short run is always better than no run at all – and with the right mindset and a plan, you can turn 30 minutes into an effective running workout.
What Are The Benefits of a 30 Minute Fartlek Running Workout?
30 minutes may seem short, but it is enough time for various physiological stimuli to occur. A short run stimulates neuromuscular pathways, which reinforces running economy over time. If the option was between short 30-minute runs and no running at all, those 30-minute runs would leave you feeling smoother and more efficient when you got back to normal training.
A 30 minute run provides an aerobic stimulus. You maintain blood volume and aerobic enzyme activity. You also provide a biomechanical stimulus, keeping your bones, tendons, and muscles adapted to the high-impact load of running.
There are scenarios where shorter runs are more beneficial. There is a concept known as “allostatic load” – the accumulation of life and physical stress. When work stress is high, you are crunched on time, and sleep is limited, your body already has a high allostatic load. If you add a stressful, long workout to that, your load will accumulate further, leaving your body more stressed than it may be able to recover from.
30 Minute Running Fartlek Workout
This 30-minute workout is a fartlek, meaning the intervals are based on time and effort versus distance and pace. The focus is on running faster for the hard intervals, rather than hitting an exact pace. (You can read here for more information on the training theory of fartlek runs.)
Run 10 minutes at a low intensity to warm up. After those 10 minutes, begin the interval segment. Run 4 minutes faster, with a 2-minute recovery run. Then run 3 minutes faster (1.5 min recovery run), 2 minutes faster (1 min recovery run) and finally one minute faster. Then, you cool down with easy running.
You can manipulate this workout based on how you feel. For example, can run the “hard intervals” closer to half marathon or threshold effort, and then treat the recovery intervals as “float recoveries” at normal easy effort. This approach provides a more aerobic stimulus. Or, you can run the hard intervals at critical speed or velocity at VO2max, and slowly jog the recoveries. Faster intervals will trigger more speed-related adaptations such as fast-twitch muscle fiber recruitment.
In total, you have 10 minutes of hard running. Even in a 30 minute run, you need to include a proper warm up and cool down before running hard. If you have more time available, you can extend this workout by lengthening the warm-up and/or cooldown.
As with any type of running workouts, you do not want to do intervals like this every day. Even if you are only doing short runs, keep higher intensity runs to once or twice per week.