Fitness Articles

Running Workouts with Interval Training

Training Programs for Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Runners

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Want to boost your fitness level and burn more calories? This program uses intervals (short bursts of higher-intensity activity followed by lower intensity recovery periods), which can be a more effective way to train than exercising at one intensity level. If you're new to running or exercise, start with the Beginner program. As you progress, slowly increase your time and eventually move to the Intermediate and Advanced workouts. Because this is a general program, you may need to adjust the recommended speeds, intensities, and times to suit your fitness level.

If you have access to a treadmill, focus on the pace guidelines, working at your own intensity level. If you run outdoors and do not have access to any tools to measure your pace, then use the intensity guidelines (rate of perceived exertion) as a guide for how fast or slow to run. (Find a full RPE chart and explanation below the workouts.)

Beginner Interval Running Workout

Intermediate Interval Running Workout

Advanced Interval Running Workout


An Explanation of Using the RPE Method to Measure Intensity
Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) may be the most versatile method to measure exercise intensity for all age groups. Using this method is simple, because all you have to do is estimate how hard you feel like you’re exerting yourself during exercise. RPE is a good measure of intensity because it is individualized—it’s based on your current fitness level and overall perception of exercise. The scale ranges from 1 to 10, allowing you to rate how you feel physically and mentally at a given intensity level.


An RPE between 5 and 7 is recommended for most adults. This means that at the height of your workout, you should feel you are working "somewhat hard" to "hard." For more information, check out this article about high intensity internal training (HIIT).

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Member Comments

  • Good article! Sounds like a good routine!
  • Or you could just do something sensible and not so regimented. My intervals involve sprinting as hard for as long as I can without my heart exploding, which means something under 10 seconds. Then I walk until my heart rate is down again, Then I jog for a bit before my next sprint.
    This has worked way better for me than staring at my watch and keeping everything to X amount of seconds. We should be listening to our bodies more than we are the stopwatches.
    Even without clocking it you'll notice improvement over time.
  • JSCARDR
    I agree that the beginner program looks too difficult. Maybe my thinking there is influenced by my shorter stride length, or by the fact that I'm truly a beginner. I just started a walking program and have been adding my own intervals. I used to be a runner and it took me quite a bit of training before I could run thirty full minutes averaging over 5 MPH. I would recommend taking the spirit of this post and adapting it to speeds that work for your current fitness level.
  • These are great workouts! Very doable and remember, the article says RUNNING, so I don't think they are too hard! Even for the people who are shorter, some of my best running friends are only 5' tall, they can run about 6.6 mph (nine minute miles) for half marathon distances. Pace is about leg turnover, not leg extension. If it's too hard right now, just back down the paces to what is easier for you - you want it to be slightly uncomfortable - that is what exercise is. If it was easy, everyone would be doing it. So do it at perceived rate of exertion rather than the paces listed. You will get an amazing workout!
  • I thought the intervals were going to be walking and running, not different running speeds.
    The speeds are very close, how does one tell their speed so they can do this workout?
  • GMB1102
    I always wonder why every time these interval workouts are shared, they always use specific speeds. For someone like me who is 64 and under 5 ft tall with a very short inseam, meaning my stride is also very short, those "jogging" and "running" speeds are not realistic. Why not list a speed range instead, or simply use a perceived effort scale instead? There are MANY of us who do not have natural aerobic and/or running ability, and we work very hard at running, because for some reason, we love it! It sometimes feels as if we're not considered when these workouts are posted. Just my humble opinion.......
  • SHAHAI16
    6 MPH is jogging? I must run really slow then, I can only maintain that speed for maybe a minute or 2.
  • MERRYHOUND
    Agree with Goldenrod, way too complicated. I couldn't do this even with a screen and up/down buttons in front of me. New book, Staying Sharp, touts interval training with a simpler pattern, starting at a slightly less challenging level for anyone who is interested.
  • LAURENISFIT12
    I've been running for a while yet the beginner looks a little challenging for me. I don't think I can jog for that long.
  • Trying to figure out all these times and speeds would drive me crazy, I would have to print it out and take it with me, then actually getting the right rate at the right time would be impossible. Can't figure out how you would do that outside. I have a fitbit but doing rates like that wouldn't show up until I was on the computer. Guess I will just wing it
  • Maybe next time some interval training with incline changes?
  • Intermediate sounds really doable and advanced sounds like quite a push. I'll have to try one and then the other. Can't wait to push myself with this!
  • Sounds very worthwhile. Thanks
  • Thanks for sharing these workouts. At the start of this month I began a run/walk interval training program that appears to share some similarities with these workouts and have enjoyed them. I appreciate having additional workout options available.

    Thanks again!
  • SMORAN0505
    I am 60 years old. . This scares me a little, i will try this at the gym tonight. I did 60 minutes on the elliptical last night.

About The Author

Jen Mueller Jen Mueller
Jen received her master's degree in health promotion and education from the University of Cincinnati. A mom and avid marathon runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist and behavior change specialist. See all of Jen's articles.