Increase Your Speed: The Best 30 Minute Interval Run

Interval Runs for Speed

I am not a fast runner by any means. My race times consistently place me right in the middle of the pack. My pace per mile is pretty average, never earning me a first place finish but always ensuring that I don’t finish last.

Even so, I enjoy challenging myself and setting new goals each year. One of my goals is always to get faster to some extent. Whether it’s to PR in a race, set a personal mile record, or finish a marathon one minute faster, increasing speed always sounds so satisfying.

I am a consistent runner to say the least. My mind and body seem to be programmed so that no matter the circumstance, I head out the door and can count on them keeping me at the same pace. Consistency has been my friend with marathon training, but seems to present a rather daunting challenge any time I hope to beat a few minutes off my PR.

Two years ago though, I finally stumbled upon the secret weapon to increasing my dependable, consistent pace.

The answer came to me by accident. I decided to sign up for a spring half marathon while still in the depths of winter. The weather took a turn the following week, dumping quite a bit of snow on the state. After a few outdoor runs turned ice skating, I begrudgingly took my runs indoors to the treadmill.

Interval Runs for Speed

The treadmill has not been my friend throughout my running career, so I desperately tried to plan runs that were as short as possible, while still getting the job done. In the end, the treadmill turned out to not be so dreadful, and even allowed me a bit of time for experimentation.

After a few months spent running indoors, the weather had finally cleared up and I was eager to run outside. I tested my newfound interval run strategy on the pavement, and was happy to see that they sparked the same results.

It seemed that I was indeed getting faster, and didn’t need to spend hours a week dedicating myself to speed work like I expected. I spent 30 minutes a week, tops, doing speed work, and ended up increasing my consistent go-to pace, as well as the length of time I could maintain my interval pace. Fast forward through 12 weeks of training, and I was able to take nearly 20 minutes off my half marathon PR on race day.

All of this accomplished in just one interval run per week, in less than 30 minutes. Today I wanted to share the workout I used with you!

30 Minute Interval Workout | Speed Workouts for Every Type of Runner: Beginners and Experienced Runners Alike

30 Minute Interval Run

  • Warm up: 800 meters (0.5 miles) at easy run pace
  • Interval #1: 400 meters (0.25 miles) at 5k pace
  • Recovery: 400m @ easy run pace
  • Interval #2: 400m @ 5k pace – 10 seconds
  • Recovery: 400m @ easy run pace
  • Interval #3: 400m @ 5k pace – 20 seconds
  • Recovery: 400m @ easy run pace
  • Interval #4: 400m @ 5k pace – 30 seconds
  • Recovery: 400m @ easy run pace
  • Interval #5: 400m @ 5k pace – 40 seconds
  • Recovery: 400m @ easy run pace
  • Interval #6: 400m @ 5k pace – 50 seconds
  • Cool Down: 800m (0.5 mile) recovery at easy run pace

For example, at this time my easy run pace was about 10:30/mile, with my 5k pace at 9:30/mile. With each interval I decreased my 5k pace by 10 seconds, making the intervals as follows: 9:30, 9:20, 9:10, 9:00, 8:50, 8:40. All of my recovery intervals were run at a 10:30 pace.

Each week I adjusted my paces as I improved. For example, on the second week, I started my interval run with a 5k pace at 9:25, the following week at 9:20, etc. Use your own paces to determine interval run speed, and see how your speed increases each week!

Happy running!

Here's how I took 20 minutes off my half marathon finish time by running less. While running only 3 days a week for two months, I ran a 20 minute PR. Here is a great tip to get faster quickly.

Here's how I took 20 minutes off my half marathon finish time by running less. While running only 3 days a week for two months, I ran a 20 minute PR. Here is a great tip to get faster quickly.

Here's how I took 20 minutes off my half marathon finish time by running less. While running only 3 days a week for two months, I ran a 20 minute PR. Here is a great tip to get faster quickly.

30 Minute Interval Workout | Speed Workouts for Every Type of Runner: Beginners and Experienced Runners Alike

30 Minute Interval Workout | Speed Workouts for Every Type of Runner: Beginners and Experienced Runners Alike

30 Minute Interval Workout | Speed Workouts for Every Type of Runner: Beginners and Professionals Alike

17 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I was planning to do some sort of speed work/fartlek today so i’ll have to give this a try! Thanks!! 🙂

    1. Awesome, I hope it goes well for you!! I love short but effective workouts. Thanks for reading! 😊

  2. My Avg Cadence during interval, tempo or Long slow runs vary between 174 to 178. If I am conscious, I can increase my cadence upto 182. My Stride length varies between 1.35 to 1.48meters. My best FM pace is around 3h 16mins.
    Unbelievable that Bekele could increase his cadence from 190 to 216.
    Any tips on how to increase the Cadence? Thanks in advance.

    1. 174 to 178 is a pretty good cadence! I usually aim for 180, so 178 is already pretty close. If you are still looking to increase your cadence, my biggest tip would be to download a metronome app on your phone or music player (whatever device you run with). Once you get the metronome app, you can set it to 180 bpm (or whatever your ideal cadence is) and it will provide a constant click for you. I like to put the metronome on in headphones while I run, so I hear the click throughout. The goal is to match my footsteps to the click – each time I hear a click my foot should be striking the ground. In the beginning, I always run on the treadmill at my usual pace while listening to the metronome, so I know that I don’t accidentally speed up when my cadence increases. It’s a bit tedious in the beginning and takes quite a bit of focus, but after about a few weeks of running with the metronome I find that I am able to reprogram my stride and my my body adjusts to the new cadence. I hope this helps! It sounds like you are already in a pretty good place with your cadence 🙂 good luck, happy running!

    1. Ugh, injuries are the worst! Coming back from them is challenging too because you don’t want to do too much to soon but at the same time are eager to get going. Hopefully you heal very soon! I haven’t been doing any speed work the past few months either but definitely plan to start adding it in once the weather clears up a little. I hope this next month of running is a much better one for you!

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