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Three Fat Blasting 20-Minute Running Workouts

Running on PathQ: “I’m a dedicated runner, but with three kids and a full time job, I just don’t have time to fit in all the workouts. If I only have 15 or 20 minutes for a run, can I still get a worth while workout? What are a few workouts that I can do when I’m crunched on time to get the best bang for my minutes?” ~ Cara

Quality always trumps quantity, in fact you’ll be quite surprised at how much you can gain and maintain by running these three express workouts.  Mix and match with longer, easy effort runs when you can or go with all three on alternate days (M – W – F).

But first a few key rules to know before you go.

  • Always invest the allotted time to warm up walking.  You’ll start with a brisk walk, transition to a power walk then run to fully prepare your body for the high intensity workout ahead.  Skimping on the warm up can increase the risk of aches, pains and injuries.
  • Cool down and let your heart rate and circulation return to it’s resting rate.  You can do so on the way to the shower and stretch while you’re conditioning – just avoid going from 100 to zero.
  •  Let your body be your guide.  Running harder isn’t about running at a magic pace, but rather an effort on that given day.  Avoid the pace trap and you’ll get the most from every workout.  Some days you’ll run like Wonder Woman, other days it will be slower.  The key is to run by your breath and body and go with what the day brings.  You’ll avoid over or under running and gain a keen sense of your inner GPS.
  • If you are new to high intensity running workouts, start with one of these workouts per week and see how your body responds.  You can fill in the gaps with short, easy effort runs.  They will help you maintain your momentum, recover optimally and progress to running more harder workouts per week.  In other words, if you’re beat after one of these workouts, take time to run easy and short to heal before you run hard again.  Your body will pay you in dividends by growing stronger faster!

The 12-Minute Tempo

Research shows runner’s high comes to us via an effort level that is just outside our comfort zone and this workout will get you there on an express flight.  The secret is to avoid running this one too hard.  It’s not an interval workout – focus on running at an effort just outside your comfort zone where you can speak in words, but not sentences.  This works well on flat roads, trails or the treadmill.

  • Warm up walking three minutes starting at an easy effort and building to a brisk power walk.
  • Run at an easy effort for five minutes.
  • 12 minutes – Dial up the speed to an effort where you can’t speak easily or just outside your comfort zone.  You should hear your breath, but not be at a place where you are gasping for air (that is for the next workout).
  • Walk it out until you catch your breath and toss in a few flexibility exercises for extra credit (you can do so in the shower).

The One-Minute Wonder!

This one looks easy, but it will kick your spirits into high gear and quickly!  Keep a lid on the speed on this one – we’re out to run hard, but not at super hero speeds.  Contrary to belief, it doesn’t have to kill you to make an impact.

  • Warm up walking three minutes starting at an easy effort and building to a brisk power walk.
  • Run at an easy effort for five minutes.
  • 1 minute – run at a hard, but controlled effort.  You’ll know you’re in the right zone if you’re counting the seconds until you can recover.  You shouldn’t look like your pants are on fire (out of control) – more like you’re running the final few hundred feet of a race.
  • 1 minute – recover and catch your breath by walking or very easy jogging.  If you need more than one minute to catch your breath – take it.
  • Repeat a total of six times.
  • Walk it out until you catch your breath and toss in a few flexibility exercises for extra credit (you can do so in the shower).

The Butt Blaster

What’s better than burning a ton of calories and strengthening your backside in the same workout? Nothing… The key is to avoid thinking you’re climbing Mount Everest and instead run rolling hills (1-4%).  You’ll be able to maintain good form and therefore better gains by doing so.

  • Warm up walking three minutes starting at an easy effort and building to a brisk power walk.
  • Run at an easy effort for three minutes.
  • 1 minute – Increase the incline on the treadmill or find a short hill in your neighborhood – stairs or step bench work well too. (start with 1-2% and build from there).  Run at an effort that feels hard, but controlled versus an all out sprinting effort.
  • 2 minutes – recover by easy jogging or walking on flat terrain.  The goal is to catch your breath – if needed, start with walking to recover and build to an easy jog in time.  The secret to gaining the most is to recover well so you can run with consistent strength and stamina.  As you gain fitness, reduce the time of the recovery to no less than 1 minute.  A good way to do so is to listen to your breath and when you’ve recovered enough to talk, it’s time for another hill or stair repeat.
  • Repeat this four times and walk it out a few minutes to cool down.

 

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