Running Workouts with Interval Training

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

I don't run, but I do walk intervals. Report
I may try that again. Report
Think I need to up my game! Report
great Report
Great article. Thanks. Report
Great article! Report
Helpful info Report
Thanks. Report
thanks Report
Consider calling it a challenge
rather than calling it a crisis.
- Mary Anne Radmacher Report
Great! Report
Good article! Sounds like a good routine! Report
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.
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. Report


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 runner, she is an ACE-certified personal trainer, health coach, medical exercise specialist, behavior change specialist and functional training specialist. She is also a RRCA-certified running coach. See all of Jen's articles.