Even with a busy schedule, most people can find 30 minutes in their days to run. With just 30 minutes, you can accomplish a lot in a single run, especially if you try speed workouts like this 30 minute fartlek workout.
I am a morning runner. Why? Because you can get your run in before the day runs you down!
However, running in the morning requires careful scheduling. Unlike an after-work or after-school run, morning runs have to be completed by a certain time so you can shower, eat to refuel, and get to work or class on time. Sometimes, then, quality must trump quantity for morning runs. 30 to 45 minutes may not cover as many miles as a 60-90 minute run, but they can offer just as much benefit to training and a pretty great calorie burn.
While it is very important to have several easy runs in your weekly running schedule, fartlek runs are a great way to make the most of a shorter run. “Fartlek” (which always makes my fiance laugh) is a Swedish word meaning “speed play.” I think they are one of the most fun type of running workouts. Fartleks are unstructured in the sense that there is not a set pace or distance for your intervals. You just go. Fartleks can be done without a timer, but I prefer to do them by time. Doing them by time helps especially if you are on a morning or lunch break run and can only run for 30 to 45 minutes.
Fartlek workouts also work as a great way to prime your body for speedwork on the track, since you run at a pace comfortable for your fitness level, and are running for time rather than distance. I really like fartleks even for training, and my current half-marathon plan incorporates them in place of weekly track workouts. Since you are running by effort rather than pace, you get a strong sense of how to pace yourself by internal cues such as breathing, the talk test, and cadence, rather than external cues such as a watch.
Since fartleks really are one of my favorite running workouts, I know I’ll blog more fartleks workouts, so I’ll share more of the physiological information and benefits with those future posts. For now, here is a great 30 minute fartlek workout for all you morning runners who want a bit extra sleep (wait, isn’t that all of us?). If you have enough time, you can extend the warm-up and cool-down to make the run last 45 minutes or even an hour.
This 30 minute fartlek workout involves a variety of paces to really give you a good running workout! Not sure what half-marathon, 10-miler, 10K, or 5K pace feels like? Focus instead on running fast enough to increase your heart rate and breathe harder, but not fast enough where you cannot finish the interval or recover in time for the next one. “Easy” indicates a recovery pace, which based on your fitness level could mean slower running or walking. Try to run each interval faster than the last.