Time Saver Workouts – Running Workouts on a Time Budget

By Rick Morris

There’s nothing like a nice relaxing hour long training run. Not only do you reap a ton of physical benefits but you also get of loads of stress and improve your mental health. As a distance runner most of your training runs are at least 30 minutes in length and your weekly long runs may be 2 to 3 hours or more. It would be nice if we had time for those long workouts every day, but sometimes it just doesn’t work that way. There are always going to be those times that work, family or social commitments just don’t allow enough time for a long workout. So what do you do? Do you skip your run for the day? You could do that but you don’t have to. You can still get in an effective training run albeit a short one with these time saver workouts.

The trick to squeezing some training benefits into a short workout is the intensity and quality of the time saver workouts. If you are in even halfway decent shape a 10 minute easy run isn’t going to do much for you physiologically. But amp up the intensity and your time saver workouts can reap some training benefits in a relatively short amount of time.

Here are some time saver workouts you can use when time isn’t on your side.

One Minute Ladders

This is a progressive workout that you can easily customize to fit into your schedule for the day.

  • Description: Begin with one minute at an easy pace. Increase your pace for each successive 1 minute segment until you reach a very hard pace or right around your mile race pace. Run your final one minute segment at an easy pace as a cool down. Take no recovery between segments.
  • Pace: Your first one minute segment at an easy pace and progressively increase your pace every minute to a top speed of mile pace. The last one minute segment should be an easy cool down.
  • Recovery: None

Total Workout Time: Minimum of 10 minutes. Customize this workout according to how much time you have.

12 x 30 Second Repeats

Here is a high intensity interval training workout that will make improvements in your vVO2 max and do wonders for your running economy despite its relatively short duration.

  • Description: Warm up for two minutes then run 12 x 30 second repeats. Cool down for one minute
  • Pace: Run each 30 second repeat at mile pace or faster.
  • Recovery: Recover between each repeat with 30 seconds of easy running.

Total Workout Time: 15 minutes

20 Minute Lactate Turn Point Run

This steady state run is a great way to work on your lactate turn point and stamina when your pressed for time.

  • Description: 20 minute steady state run.
  • Pace: Lactate turn point pace or 10K race pace.
  • Recovery: None

Total Workout Time: 20 minutes

25 Minute Fartlek

Here is a fun but challenging change of pace workout that will help you improve your stamina and 5K race pace.

  • Description: Warm up for 2 minutes and then run for 25 minutes alternating between tempo pace and 5K pace.
  • Pace: Alternate between 4 minutes at tempo pace and 1 minute at 5K race pace.
  • Recovery: None

Total Workout Time: 27 minutes

Fast Finish Tempo Run

This workout is a standard tempo run with a little surge at the end. This will also help you improve your ability to finish your races at a quality pace.

  • Description: 30 minute steady state run with a surging finish.
  • Pace: Run the first 20 minutes at tempo pace. Speed up to 10K pace for the next 8 minutes and finish with the last 2 minutes at 5K pace.
  • Recovery: None

Total Workout Time: 30 minutes