The 3 Pillars of Health: Fitness, Food, Sleep

HIIT Running Workout


In two previous articles I’ve discussed how to apply HIIT concepts to running and sprinting.

This article finishes the series by showing you some specific HIIT running programs.

Before We Start

If you’re new to working out, make sure you consult with your health care professional before beginning any exercise routine.

I’ll say this once at the beginning: every HIIT running routine should start with a warm up session and end with a cool down time.

You’ll know from experience how much time you need for warming up and cooling down.

Also, how many repetitions you perform depend upon your general fitness level. Don’t over do it!

Time Intervals

stop watch for timing HIIT intervals

One of the basic HIIT time intervals is the 20 / 10 system.

That is to say, work hard for 20 seconds followed by 10 seconds of rest and recovery.

You could run at a comfortable pace for 20 seconds and then jog or walk for 10 seconds.

If you’re interested in sprinting, then you would substitute a sprint in place of the running.

As a runner you may find that 20 seconds is too short of an interval. If so, then stretch it out to 1, 5, or even 10 minutes. The important idea is to vary your pace significantly between the high intensity interval and the rest and recovery interval.

Modified Mona Fartlek

Here’s an interesting variation on the time interval, known as the Modified Mona Fartlek.

The basic system is

  • 15 second fast run then 15 second recovery jog
  • 30 second fast run then 30 second recovery jog
  • 60 second fast run then 60 second recovery jog
  • 90 second fast run then 90 second recovery jog

Repeat this 3 times.

Distance Intervals

HIIT on the running track

If you are on a track or some other course with well-defined distances, this is a very easy way to vary your workout and turn it into an effective HIIT running workout.

For example, you could sprint for 100 meters and then jog back to the starting line.

When I was in high school, my cross country coach had us do a version of this.

We were supposed to run the length of the football field as fast as we could and then very slowly jog back.

If you are interested in long distance running, you could try running 400 meters a bit faster than your normal pace and then slowing to a jog for the next 200 meters.

You may find that adding this extra intensity into your running program tires you out more quickly than you are used to. You may even find that your overall workout covers less distance than you are used to.

Don’t let that bother you.


Because you should find that you are getting the benefits you want and expect from your running routine more quickly by using the HIIT system.

Heart Rate Interval

Another variation you can introduce into your HIIT running workout is to monitor your heart rate and base your intervals on that.

As I showed in a previous article, you need to calculate your high intensity and low intensity heart rates.

You’ll need a heart rate monitor to make this system work easily.

If your high intensity heart rate is 150 beats per minute, run or sprint until you bring your heart rate up to that level.

Maintain that rate for 30 seconds or more, depending upon your fitness level.

Remember, the idea is never to bring yourself to total exhaustion. 🙂

Then slow your pace to a jog or walk until your heart rate comes down to your low intensity rate.

As they say, rinse and repeat. Try do this for 5 or 10 total repetitions. How many you do all depends upon your fitness level.


There really is no limit to the different HIIT running workouts you can design.

This article has shown you some of the ways you can vary your routine.

So, get out there and experiment until you find an HIIT running program that brings you the results you want.


Photo Credits: Flickr US Army photo by Tim Hipps
Flickr – wwarby stopwatch
Flickr – seeminglee runner on track