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 one to 10, allowing you to rate how you feel physically and mentally at a given intensity level.

An RPE between five and seven is recommended for most adults. This means that at the height of your workout, you should feel you are working "somewhat hard" to "hard." 
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Member Comments

This interval running is about all running at different speeds

I prefer interval running with walking intervals and running intervals (with different speeds) Report
I do something similar on my elliptical exercise bike: I turn on classic county and pedal/push to the mush. Usually a couple songs and a good clip, one slow, one really fat (Garth's Ain't Goin' Down til the Sun Comes Up, etc.) Such fun! Report
Thanks but I cannot run due to health issues Report
thank you Report
The beginner program is NOT realistic, safe or recommended. Expecting someone who is brand new to running or even new to exercise to run for 12 minutes--about a mile--is inviting injury and setting them up for frustration and a sense of failure.

Check out Couch to 5K apps instead. They start with intervals of 60 seconds of jogging and 2 minutes of walking--at whatever pace is comfortable for the individual, not a pace dictated by the program. That is realistic, safe, and very effective for any one new to running. Those new to exercise should build up walking stamina first. Report
Great article. Report
Thank you. Report
Excellent article. Good need-to-know information. Report
Great help. Report
Thanks Report
Thank you Report
Good info Report
Love interval training! I've tried several methods. Really enjoying the ones which are cued to music and voice instructions in the music so I don't have to watch the clock but can focus on full out activity and then moving things down a notch or two.... 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 and medical exercise specialist, with additional certifications in behavior change, functional training and senior fitness. She is also a RRCA-certified running coach. See all of Jen's articles.