30 Minute Runner – Let’s See If This Works

30minuterunner4Welcome to a new feature on The Runner’s Resource called “30 Minute Runner.” The goal of this project is to determine whether runners with busy schedules can effectively train for a 5k race.

I’ll be the guinea pig.

The plan is for me to train for eight weeks running 30 minutes per day.  I’ll mix steady 30 minute runs some days with high intensity interval training (HIIT) on others. My ultimate goal is to help runners with little free time maximize their training.

Why am I doing this?

With a wife, daughter, and full-time job, there are some days during which I simply don’t have time to run.  I admire runners who can wake up at 5:00 AM to run 10 miles before work.  However, my wife leaves the house at 5:30 AM for her job, so I am responsible for getting our daughter ready for day care in the mornings.

I suppose I could run at night, but I’m generally tired after a long day and, depending on the area of town, don’t feel 100% safe running at night. Nighttime running just isn’t for me.

Therefore, my optimal running time is 30 minutes during my lunch break at work.

Unfortunately, according to almost every training plan in running books and web sites, 30 minutes is not even close to enough time for a quality training program.  Sure, I could jog around for 30 minutes a day, but I’d really like to challenge myself in a race and run a quality 5k.

Therefore, I have decided to create my own 30 minute running plan with the help of HIIT workouts.  With your help, I’m going to give it a shot.

What are HIIT Workouts?

An HIIT workout consists of short intervals run at a fast pace with little rest.  The goal is to use the high intensity of intervals to rapidly improve performance.  The short distance of each interval is designed to lessen the risk of injury.

There has been a lot of discussion recently about HIIT training. Perhaps the most famous study in recent years was published in the Journal of Applied Physiology in 2012.  The study found that runners who ran very short and fast intervals for seven weeks had big improvements in their 5k times.

Runner’s World, About.com, Lifehacker.com, Scienceofrunning.com, Livestrong.com, Fitnessgoop.com, and Crankyfitness.com  have all written about the study.

This study coined the phrase “10-20-30″ workout, which is a workout consisting of repeats of 30 seconds of jogging, 20 seconds of normal training pace, and 10 seconds of all out sprinting. Below is a video in which the researchers of the study explain the 10-20-30 workout.


I’ll talk more about this workout, and HIIT workouts in general, in later posts. I’ll also touch on the praise and criticism that the study and HIIT workouts have received from the running community. I think the debate is fascinating.

Let’s See if Being a 30 Minute Runner Works

Do I think that running thirty minutes a day, with a 10-20-30 workout a few times a week, is some miracle to success? No. The best way to train is to follow a comprehensive plan that has plenty of mileage and allows full development of the cardiovascular, muscular, and respiratory systems.

But the fact remains that I don’t have much time to run during the day and want to find a way to maximize my training.

The plan is to run two 5k races two months apart. In between, my training will be the following:

  • 4-6 days per week of 30 minutes of easy running, (I may go a bit longer on the weekends, but not by much), and
  • 2-3 days of the 10-20-30 workout, or a similar HIIT workout.

Keep in mind that I have run about 30 minutes on 5-6 days per week for the last nine months.  Therefore, I think I have enough base to start HIIT training. I certainly don’t recommend starting any interval training without at least a 4-8 week base of easy running.

Feel free to join me during my journey as a 30 minute runner.  Please use this site to comment on your own experience of being a runner with a busy schedule. Let’s see if this works.

I’ll plan to update my progress often during the next two months. Bookmark the site or use the form below to subscribe to my Newsletter to stay updated. It should be fun!

30 Minute Runner - The First 5k Race


  1. I am interested to know how your training is going; how long ago did you start the 30-minute training regimen? When will you run your 5Ks? If you already have run a 5K, what kind of time did you get and do you feel you were able to get a quality workout or would you change up your workout to get a better time?

  2. Thanks for the comment Ron! I just started the plan this week. I ran the first 5k last Saturday and the first 10-20-30 workout on Wednesday. I’ll talk about all of this in a series of blog posts during the next few days. Stay tuned!