4 Running Workouts to Increase Speed and Build Endurance

Add Variety With 30-Minute Workouts

One of the great benefits of running is that you get a lot of bang for your buck. Even if you only have a half-hour to fit in a run, you can still burn a lot of calories and work on building your strength, speed, and endurance. These four quick, but effective 30-minute running workouts will also add some variety to your regular runs.

1

30-Minute Hill Workout

woman running up a hill
Denise Crew

Running hills is an effective workout that burns a lot of calories. Running on the treadmill is a great way to train on hills because you can control the grade and your knees and quads won’t get the stress of the downhills.

Warm-Up

Warm up with a 10-minute easy jog or walk. Toward the end of your warm-up, increase your speed for 10 seconds two or three times, so you get your legs used to turning over faster. Break these quick strides up with walking or even standing still.

Main Set

Once you've completed the warm-up, it's time to move on to the main part of your workout. Always follow up with a slower recovery period and then a cool-down.

Work interval: If you're on a treadmill, increase the incline to 3% or 4% and run for 1 minute. If you're running outside, look for a moderate hill that will take about a minute to run up. Run at a hard effort—similar to how you would feel if you were racing a 5K. Your breathing should be a bit labored and your legs should start to feel tired after a couple of repeats.

Recovery interval: Lower incline to 1% and reduce your speed. Run for 1 minute at an easy pace. If you're running outside, recover downhill. Go at an easy pace (walk if you have to) to get your breathing back down to normal.

Repeat work and recovery intervals 6 more times for a total of 7 work/rest intervals.

Cool down: After your last recovery interval, finish with another 6 minutes of easy jogging. Don't skip the cool down part of your run—it allows your body to gradually recover and return to your normal heart rate.

Try It Out

  • Warm-up: 10-minute easy jog
  • Work interval: 1 minute run hard effort @ 3% to 4% incline
  • Rest interval: 1 minute at easy pace @ 1% incline
  • Repeat: Repeat work/rest interval 6 more times
  • Cool down: 6 minutes easy jogging
2

30-Minute Ladder Workout

runner on track
Jordan Siemens/The Image Bank/Getty

Ladder workouts are fun because they always seem to fly by. As you're working on one interval, your mind is distracted because you're thinking about the next. With each interval, you'll increase the pace, as if climbing a ladder (but you'll also do shorter segments as you go faster).

Running different paces is also an excellent boredom buster! If you're not sure what marathon, half-marathon, 10K, or 5K pace feels like, just focus on running each interval faster than the last.

You should feel your heart rate increasing and your breathing should become more labored with each interval. The key is to not start the first interval too fast. You need to be able to increase your pace for the remaining four intervals. ​

For recovery intervals, go at an easy pace. A slow jog is a good pace for recovery, but you can also walk.

Try It Out

  • Warm-up: 5 minutes of easy jogging
  • Work interval: 5 minutes at marathon pace (or 5 out of 10 on a perceived exertion scale of 1 to 10)
  • Recovery interval: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Work interval: 4 minutes at half marathon pace (or 6 out of 10 PE)
  • Recovery interval: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Work interval: 3 minutes at 10K pace (7 out of 10 PE)
  • Recovery interval: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Work interval: 2 minutes at 5K pace (8 out of 10 PE)
  • Recovery interval: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Work interval: 1 minute at hard (sprint) pace (9 out of 10 PE)
  • Recovery interval: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Cool down: 5 minutes easy jogging
3

30-Minute Run and Strength Combo Workout

Woman doing squats on a street
Artem Varnitsin/Shutterstock

If you want to add more strengthening to your training, but always seem to forget to do exercises post-run, this is a good workout for you. You'll combine run intervals with muscle-strengthening exercises for a total body workout.

Try It Out

  • Warm-up: 5-minute easy jog
  • Run interval: 1 minute at 5K pace
  • Strength interval: 1 minute squats
  • Run: 2 minutes at 5K pace
  • Strength: 1 minute walking lunges
  • Run: 3 minutes at 5K pace
  • Strength: 1 minute donkey kicks
  • Run: 4 minutes at 5K pace
  • Strength: 1 minute tricep dips
  • Run: 5 minutes at 5K pace
  • Strength: 1 minute push-ups
  • Cool down: 5-minute easy jog
4

30-Minute Sprint Interval Workout

Full length shot of young female athlete sprinting in city. Fast-Twitch-Muscle-Fibers
Adobe Stock

Short bursts of speed help build strength, increase aerobic capacity, and get your legs used to the faster turnover. This is a fun workout to do outside, whether on a track or road, but can also be done on a treadmill.

Set an easy pace for your recovery intervals. This can mean a slow jog, but walking is fine if you need a slower pace. 

Try It Out

  • Warm-up: 5-minute easy jog
  • Run: 30-second speed interval (start with a fast, but not sprinting, pace for the first two or three times, then sprint full-out for the remaining intervals)
  • Recover: 1 minute at easy pace
  • Repeat: Do run/recover cycle again for total of 20 minutes
  • Cool down: 5-minute easy jog

How to Start Running

Starting a running routine, especially as a beginner, will take time and dedication. If you've decided to embark on a running journey, first speak to a healthcare provider. Once cleared, investing in a proper pair of running shoes will be critical in helping you stay injury-free as you increase running mileage.

From here, if you're a beginner, start with a walk/run routine, alternating between bursts of running and walking. Over time, you'll eventually increase the amount of time spent running.

If you're an intermediate or advanced runner, you'll work on increasing your cadence and pace with the help of different types of runs. Incorporate fartleks, speed runs, hill runs, long runs, and recovery runs into your training to change up and improve your running.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How long should a running workout be?

    Beginners should aim for at least a 20-to-30-minute run to start. As you add more miles to your week, go by the 10% rule—only increase your overall mileage by 10% every week. This helps reduce the risk of overtraining and injury.

  • Is a 30-minute run effective?

    A 30-minute run can be very effective. Whether you're doing a recovery run or a speed run, putting in 30 minutes of cardio can help you boost your heart health and running endurance.

2 Sources
Verywell Fit uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Yusof ZM, Misiran M, Ibrahim A. Running designs that affect calories burned. JSSPJ. 2018;7(2):103-112. doi:10.37134/jsspj.vol7.2.10.2018

  2. Gist NH, Fedewa MV, Dishman RK, Cureton KJ. Sprint interval training effects on aerobic capacity: a systematic review and meta-analysisSports Med. 2014;44(2):269–279. doi:10.1007/s40279-013-0115-0

By Christine Luff, ACE-CPT
Christine Many Luff is a personal trainer, fitness nutrition specialist, and Road Runners Club of America Certified Coach.