5 Quick and Effective Running Workouts for the Holidays

The holidays are a busy time of year with travel, hosting family and parties, and other obligations. But ask any runner, and they will tell when time is in short supply is when a good run is the most beneficial. Even 30 or 40 minutes of movement, alone time, and fresh air can work wonders during the stressful holiday season. The endorphins and sense of accomplishment from crushing a hard workout, even a short one, only enhance the mood-boosting benefits of a run. These quick and effective running workouts can give you exactly the run you need when you’re short on time and craving a good sweat. 

Each of these workouts takes 45 minutes or less. That’s short enough to fit in one of these workouts during a lunch break or in the morning before visiting family awakes. The workouts are designed to be energizing, not exhausting. You want your run to boost your energy during this busy time of year! 

These quick and effective running workouts can also be adapted for any ability level of runner, whether you are a beginner or are coming off of a new PR during fall race season. If you have the time and desire to run for longer, you can increase the duration of the warm-up and/or the cooldown. If you are short on time, you can reduce the warm-ups and/or cooldowns to 5-minutes, which turns most of these runs into 30-minute workouts.

5 Quick and Effective Running Workouts for the Holidays

40 Minute Tempo Run
10 minutes easy running

20 minutes at a comfortably hard effort
10 minutes easy running

Tempo runs are a highly effective running workout, especially if you are short on time. Tempo runs are done at a comfortably hard effort, or roughly the pace you could sustain for a 60-75 minute race. If you can speak only in short phrases, you are working at the appropriate effort level. This workout shouldn’t feel completely exhausting or turn into a time trial. Instead, you should feel like you could keep going at the pace beyond the duration of the workout.

4 Mile Progression Run
1 mile easy
1 mile at marathon pace (moderate)
1 mile at half marathon pace (comfortably hard)
1 mile at 5K-10K pace (hard)

Progression runs play to the natural tendency to pick up the pace as you get closer to the end of the run. After warming up for one mile, this run incrementally moves through progressively faster paces. By the end, you’ll be breathing hard and feeling accomplished from the hard effort, even if the workout itself was relatively short.
Alternatively, you can structure this workout by time: 10 minutes easy, 10 minutes moderate, 10 minutes comfortably hard, 10 minutes hard. 

35 Minute Fartlek
10 minutes easy running
5 x 2 minutes hard, 1 minute easy
10 minutes easy running

Fartleks are a flexible variation of interval training. You can run this workout on the roads, trails, track, or treadmill – whichever is most enjoyable and convenient for you. The emphasis on effort instead of pace allows you to adapt the workout for how you feel that day. Hard can simply mean picking up the pace to noticeably faster or running at a challenging 3K or 5K pace. 

40 Minute Hill Repeats
10 minutes easy running
8-10 x 30 seconds uphill at a hard effort with 90 seconds recovery jog
10 minutes easy running

If you live in a hilly area, this quick workout is ideal. After the warm-up, find a nearby hill that is challenging enough to labor your breathing, but not so steep that your form falls apart. Run at a hard effort up the hill, while maintaining a quick cadence and proper running form. 

30 Minute Fast Finish Run
20 minutes at an easy effort
10 minutes at a hard effort

A fast finish run is a variation of the progression run. This workout allows you time to adequately warm-up before running hard. Warm-ups are essential, even when you are short on time. Run at your normal easy pace for 20 minutes and then pick up the pace for the last ten minutes. Your effort should be hard but not an all-out push; you should not be struggling to finish. If desired, add a 5-10 minute cooldown run at an easy pace.

5 Quick and Effective Running Workouts for the Holidays
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5 Quick and Effective Running Workouts for the Holidays

What’s a go-to workout for you when you’re busy?


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8 Responses

  1. This is great! I was just thinking about my TM run for this morning (I don’t want to blow away outside). I need something quick and effective. It’s like you knew what I needed!

  2. Very good post! It is good to remember that even a quick hour workout is better than no workout at all. Being outside and sweating can change the outlook of an entire day or week.

  3. I get clients telling me all the time that they are too stressed and too busy to fit in workouts during this season and I try telling them that a quick workout will do wonders for their stress! Love these ideas 🙂

  4. Pingback: December Link Love

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