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.

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. says

    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. says

    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

  3. says

    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

  4. says

    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

  5. says

    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

  6. says

    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

  7. says

    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

  8. says

    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

  9. says

    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!

  10. says

    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

  11. says

    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

  12. says

    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!

  13. 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!

  14. says

    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

  15. says

    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

  16. says

    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

  17. says

    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

  18. says

    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

  19. says

    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