Have you heard about this recently devised, simple workout? I read about it on Runner’s World Daily and thought it sounded interesting, so I decided to give it a go.

My rule since hitting my 40s is not to do speed work on my traditional day (Tuesday) after a race. I just don’t recover like I used to, so this gives me a little cushion. If my legs are ready to go by Wed. or Thurs., then I’ll add in the speed. If not, I skip it for the week.

Audreyxcountry 002 300x224 30 20 10

Getting away from the track for different kind of speed work

Since I raced last Saturday, I didn’t do speed on Tuesday, but my legs felt pretty good on Wednesday. I thought this might be the perfect time to try the 30, 20, 10 workout. Here’s how it goes: After a warm up, you run normal speed for 30 seconds, pick it up a bit for 20, and then all-out sprint the last 10. You then repeat the sequence four more times for a total of five. That’s one set. You take two minutes of recovery running and then repeat the entire set. I did four sets yesterday.

There was a small study recently that showed some impressive results from this speed work when done over the course of seven weeks. I’m not going to read too much into the study, but I will say that I liked the workout. For one, it’s incredibly easy to remember (this helps at my age!). And while it might seem like it wouldn’t be very challenging, it really is. How often do you sprint full out? I can say not very often in my case. Yet the 30 second recovery was sufficient enough to allow me to ramp back up again every time. I just had to be careful not to let my mind wander  (it did a couple of times) during the recovery because before I knew it, it was go time again.

I like doing fartlek like this on the road because it means you get a different challenge with each set. My first set was on relatively flat ground, for instance, while my second set was on hills, making recovery more challenging. Set number three was on a descent, so I got to work downhill running hard, too. This is one I’ll do again–you can’t beat its simplicity and it delivers a great challenge.

Have you tried the 30-20-10 workout? What are your thoughts? 

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  1. I hear what you say about feeling old and wanting more time to recover… but i feel i’m quiet to opposite! I feel I just don’t race as hard, so I don’t have a problem training hard again on the Tuesday. (not that my speed sessions are hard or fast any more)

    Now as for your session of 30-20-10, well I would look to doing that after every easy run as a way to get the legs turning over… That said I have a couple of other little sessions I have my athletes doing after there easy runs. it’s all really about getting the legs use to moving fast and to stretch them out. I’m not big into sitting around stretching, so sprint on the flat, up a hill, down a hill and yes only for 10 sec, then do your drills!!!

    PS my wife ran her PR’s late in her 40′s (46 & 47) so we don’t need to slow down!
    Coach Dion recently posted..67 Min for Mandela…My Profile

  2. I am always looking for new ideas for speed work. Sounds like a fun one.
    J recently posted..End of a streakMy Profile

  3. I like what Coach Dion said. I read about that too in Runners World but haven’t tried it yet. I heard they did the study on beginner runners, not sure how true that is. I keep meaning to try it.
    Christy @My Dirt Road Anthem recently posted..Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

  4. Sounds like a good way to get some sprints in. Whenever we do “all out” on the track it’s for 200 or 300 meters – too far in my opinion! The quality starts to suffer at the end of longer workouts! Ten seconds might be all I can handle.
    Gracie (Complicated Day) recently posted..The funniest thing I’ve ever seen while running.My Profile

  5. In this heat, I’m just trying to run at all. I’ll worry about speed work when I am more worried about speed in general. But I like the concept of “easy to remember” because it doesn’t seem like my brain fires on all cylinders once I get to working.
    TriMOEngr (Christina) recently posted..Show Me State Games Race ReportMy Profile

  6. I need to be better about incorporating speed in any form, and this one looks easy, so maybe I’ll try it. I was actually just thinking about this last night :)
    Heather@Just a Colorado Gal recently posted..This Is Why I Can’t Have Nice ThingsMy Profile

  7. sounds like a fun workout. i have done similar intervals just when playing around on the treadmill, never really put a structure to it!
    Amanda @RunToTheFinish recently posted..Clean Eating: August Challenge Sign UpMy Profile

  8. Oh I want to try this one. Though when doing speedwork I have a tendency to just go balls to the walls not exactly following the set up properly.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Mesh Tank & Celebrating WinesdayMy Profile

  9. I like your idea of taking the week off from speed after racing. I’m about to turn 30, may still be a good idea!

    Who says speed work has to happen on a track?
    Adrienne recently posted..Total ImmersionMy Profile

  10. I haven’t tried it yet, but I love the easy instructions! I can do this without having to read the manual, which I loathe.

    Right now all my fartleking consists of running wherever there’s shadow, and walking when the sun is beating down on me.
    Mom’ s Home Run recently posted..The kindness of runnersMy Profile

  11. I just recently heard of this and really want to try for an upcoming speed workout. Thanks for sharing your experience! How do you feel it would be on a track?

  12. I hadn’t heard of it but I LOVE the sound of it. Very cool!

  13. That sounds like a great speed workout! I’m going to have to give it a try. I also like the idea of tacking a couple of those onto the end of an easy run. Thanks!

  14. I haven’t tried this one — but will. It sounds good! I do a similar workout sometimes where I sprint for 30 seconds, jog for 90 and I LOVE it. It was my go-to workout when I needed to get back into shape after having my last baby.
    Felice @ The Happy Runner recently posted..Rudi’s Organic Bakery giveaway!My Profile

  15. Im sitting on my couch allowing my body to wake up before I shock my aching bones into a run. I never woke up feeling heavy until I hit 35. Thus will be the first season I’ve ever really tried speed work, please tell me recovery is easy. That workout doesn’t sound too daunting. And…wait…don’t you sprint all out in 400, 800, and 1600 till you want to puke?? I thought that was how it was done? Serious.
    Fueled by Spite recently posted..Moving ForwardMy Profile

  16. I’m 31 and totally need the extra time between racing and the next workout! I have been virtually injury free since I’ve started waiting a few extra days on the speedwork after racing (as opposed to following the traditional training plan).
    I think the 30-20-10 workout sounds like a fun way to get in a workout. It’s not too overwhelming and gets you working on really fast leg turnover that most of us avoid! Sounds like a good one to try on a day where I don’t really want to do my prescribed workout, but still want to get something fast accomplished!
    Jen B. recently posted..You Never Regret a Run?My Profile

  17. This sounds cool, easy to remember and a good alternative to Tabatas (also easy to remember).
    Kovas – Midwest Mutisport Life recently posted..Just Ride: A Radically Practical Guide to Riding Your BikeMy Profile

  18. I may try that on the treadmill today. Certainly not going to be doing it outside with the projected 100 degrees today. Ugh!
    MCM Mama recently posted..Three Packages ThursdayMy Profile

  19. How did I miss this? When I’m back on speed work (it’s like crack…I wanna go back!) post-injury rehab I am throwing this one into the mix!
    Sheila recently posted..True Confession Thursday: 2 Generations of YogaMy Profile

  20. I read this article on Runner’s World daily too and was very intrigued. I am glad you tried it out and liked it. Now I am definitely going to give it a go!
    Vieve recently posted..Runnin’My Profile

  21. I’ve never tried it but have read and heard about it. I think it is great! I don’t do speedwork anymore as all my big future goals are ultra distance and multi day related. I’ll be 49 next week so speed out the window long ago…
    Johann recently posted..Throwback ThursdayMy Profile

  22. all sounds good to me except the last 10 seconds. I wonder what the need is to go “all out” and if it could potentially cause more damage than good. I guess it depends on the distance you are training for maybe. I fear the injury so I am now apprehensive about doing any workout too hard or too fast that what is needed.
    Kristy (@KrisRunTri) recently posted..Weekly Log and Getting Cozy With Hill WorkMy Profile

  23. I read the same article…This will be interesting to try it out.
    LisaM@RunWiki recently posted..Product Review: Pocket FuelMy Profile

  24. This sounds fun! I do a lot of “strides” (5x100m sprints) at the end of easy work outs and I enjoy running all out for the short sprints. This sounds like it could be a really fun work out.
    Erin Henderson recently posted..Tuesday TangentsMy Profile

  25. I’ve done this workout a few times and I love it. I like that you go off of feel and then I’ve found going to look at my paces after the workout that I hit my target paces right on.

    And, it’s easy for my 40+ brain to remember, too.

    Good job.
    Carrie@FamilyFitnessFood.com recently posted..Three Things ThursdayMy Profile

  26. I have not been using the track for my speed work days either. For example today I did my 10x800s followed by 4x400s in a loop around this area in my neighborhood but the best part is since the recovery was 400 I was always starting and stopping at a different point. You dealt with the terrain and waited for the watch to FINALLY beep.

    This looks like an interesting workout too!

  27. Sounds interesting!
    Robin recently posted..So Far So GoodMy Profile

  28. This seems like a great way to get speed work in when you don’t have access to a track. Cool.
    Rose recently posted..Yatta!My Profile

  29. One of my workouts is pretty much an all out sprint for a max of 2 min intervals. They are barftastic but man do they make a difference.
    I like this idea as well of pickups to gauge the difference between the speeds.
    Laura recently posted..InspirationMy Profile

  30. I need to look into speedwork drills, you speak of them often and honestly I don’t have a clue…sad but true. BUT I’m up for learning new things especially when it comes to my workouts, it’s time to spice things up-that’s for sure!!!
    marissa recently posted..chicken and snap pea pasta and ZUMBA!My Profile

  31. That sounds like a great workout! I like it when I can bring up my runs into minute or second segments it makes the workout go by faster for me. I do a lot of runs where I run hard for xx minutes and then recover for xx minutes and repeat for 60-90 minutes.
    Tasha @ Healthy Diva recently posted..Healthy Diva HummusMy Profile

  32. Sounds like something fun to try. I can do anything for 10 seconds :-) (almost)

    Might try this for my cross country team too. Good to work on their leg turnover out on the road.
    Debbie @ Live from La Quinta recently posted..Wednesday Workout: Circuit Challenge VlogMy Profile

  33. Sounds like a fun workout. I’ll have to give it a try.
    Marlene recently posted..Placid Weekend – swimming & biking the IM course, volunteering, finish line party and registering for IMLP13My Profile

  34. this is a great speed workout, especially for beginners. sometimes the track can be intimidating (i still cringe a bit when i have to hit the track!) so this is a nice way to sneak it in on the roads. and it sounds fun too!

  35. janae@hungryrunnergirl says:

    I am SO trying 30-20-10. That sounds like a blast plus mentally I bet it helps beat boredom and anyone can push themselves full out for 10 seconds…I LOVE IT!

  36. My college coach used to have use do something similar, but on hills. He called them “SIC” for Short Interval Cardio. Boy howdy were they effective.
    Jill recently posted..Let’s SwimMy Profile

  37. oh, great workout! i also like to change up speed work by running fast to one song, slow to the next, sprint during the chorus! it’s ideal for those runners who need their iPods…
    mary @ minutespermile recently posted..short and longMy Profile

  38. I’d never heard of this work out until I just read your post. I might just have to share it with my coach. He’s always looking for new speed sessions for his unwary victims and I’m sure he’d like this one.
    Char recently posted..Let The Games BeginMy Profile

  39. I like the sounds of this. Simplicity. And if you forget what number rep you’re on, it’s not like one extra or one less would break the workout.
    David H. recently posted..Why I …My Profile

  40. Sounds like a really fun workout and, like you said, easy to remember! I hate having to read over a workout 10 times before I start to make sure I have it in my brain. I did track Wednesday morning as usual but my legs definitely weren’t recovered, mostly from a killer bike ride Monday night…time to remind myself I’m almost 40!!!
    Alison @ racingtales recently posted..The Fight inside the GirlMy Profile

  41. I definitely want to try this out. Seems simple enough, and I like the thought of not getting tied up with what time I’m hitting for my splits, like I do when I’m doing other speedwork.
    Beth @ Miles and Trials recently posted..Out of my comfort zoneMy Profile

  42. I tried this a few months ago, but made the mistake of attempting it on the treadmill and spent nearly half the time with my hand adjusting the speed… but I do like the idea of it for the reasons you mentioned, it’s quick, it pushes you, it’s easy to remember. I’m sharing some other (non-traditional) speed workouts for the treadmill tomorrow. :)
    Laura recently posted..Black Bean Spinach dip and a Larabar winnerMy Profile

  43. this is an interesting workout, but seems to complicated for me to manage speed and gaze at my watch like a hawk without tripping over my giant bozo feet.

    i’m 28 and starting to feel like my body needs longer recoveries between harder efforts. used to be able to do speed mon/wed but now i really struggle on weds. i’ve only move the hard effort to mon/thurs a few times but that extra day really seems to help.
    Britt @ Chicago Runner Girl recently posted..30 days laterMy Profile

  44. sounds like a good workout (i’m like a year behind in my RW issues) – fun way to mix it up and do some “informal” speedwork. i’d have to set garmin to beep so i didn’t have to constantly watch the time – did you do that?
    lindsay recently posted..then and nowMy Profile

  45. Great workout, never heard about it but definitely something I want to try.

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