Time-Crunched Treadmill Workouts

Ask Coach Jenny

 Q: I struggle this time of year to get in my workouts and I’m limited to the treadmill. Do you have any suggested workouts for the time-crunched runner?  ~Jessica

A: Hi, Jessica. You’re not alone. In fact, this time of year is when activity falls by the wayside in lieu of parties, shopping and busy schedules. The good news is you’re right on target in terms of how to stay on track this holiday season. It is better to get in short, frequent workouts than cancel because you can’t get in your normal 45 minutes. The key is to maintain momentum and make the most of the time you have.

Before we discuss the workouts, here are a few key rules to know before you go.

Always invest the allotted time to warm up by 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. This will make for a more pleasurable and optimal workout experience.

  • Post workout, cool down and let your heart rate and circulation return to their resting rate. In most cases, two to three minutes of easy-effort walking will do the trick.
  • Listen to your body. Avoid the trap of running by pace, and go by how your body is feeling instead. Some days this will be faster, and some days slower – but when you run by your body on a given day, you’ll gain the most for your effort.
  • If you’re new to high-intensity 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 in the meantime. This will help you maintain your momentum, recover optimally and progress to running more frequent high-intensity workouts per week.
  • Note to newbie exercisers: If you are new to the active life, make sure to develop a solid base of regular walking or running at least three times per week for 30-60 minutes each before weaving these workouts into your schedule. You’ll progress faster with a lower risk of injury and burnout.

Here are three, 30-minute workouts that are fun, functional and will keep you fit through the crazy-busy holiday season.


The Music Mix Mash-Up

Move to the rhythm of your own beat.

  • Create a music mix by alternating a slow-to-moderately paced song, like “Just the Way You Are” by Bruno Mars, with a fast-paced song, like “Beautiful Day” by U2.
  • Warm up by walking for 3 minutes at a brisk effort level.
  • For 25 minutes, alternate slow and fast songs, matching your effort level to each.
  • Run at an easy pace to slow music. After the warm up, run for the duration of the first song (slow-to-moderate) at a comfortable effort level where you can talk while you’re moving.
  • Run hard to fast music. Pick up the pace to a comfortably hard level where you can hear your breathing and you’re just outside your comfort zone for the entire duration of the fast-paced song.
  • Continue to alternate easy and hard efforts with the alternating songs on your custom playlist.
  • Cool down by walking 2 minutes at an easy effort.
  • Soon you’ll find that the time flies by quickly when you’re jamming to your favorite tunes!

The Mountain Climber

Moving up and down hills strengthens your legs and your stamina.

Changing the incline on the treadmill is just like strength training for your legs. The added resistance is a great way to increase the intensity, burn a ton of calories and utilize a variety of muscles. (Cut and paste this workout and tape it to the treadmill).

Warm up

  • Walk at a brisk pace for 3 minutes at 0% incline.
  • Start running at 0% incline for 5 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational pace).

Set 1

  • Keeping the speed the same, increase the incline to 1% and run for 1 minute.
  • Decrease incline to 0% for 2 minutes to catch your breath.

Set 2

  • Increase the incline to 2% and run for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 1% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 0% for 2 minutes to catch your breath.

Set 3

  • Increase the incline to 3% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease to 2% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease the incline to 1% for 1 minute.
  • Recover with 2 minutes at 0%.

Set 4

  • Increase the incline to 4% for 1 minute.
  • Decrease progressively, 3% for 1 minute, 2% for 1 minute and finally 1% for 1 minute.
  • Recover with 2 minutes at 0%.

Cool Down

  • Finish running at 0% incline for 2 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational pace).
  • Finish your cool down walking 2 minutes at an easy effort.

The Pyramid

Time flies when you move at the speed of light. Alternating the speed of your workout with fast and slow intervals boosts cardiovascular fitness and running form.

Warm up

Walk 3 minutes at a brisk effort level.

Workout

Run 8 minutes at an easy effort level (conversational). Then alternate the following:

  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 60 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 2 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 90 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 3 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 60 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 2 minutes at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath
  • 30 seconds at a comfortably hard intensity, 1 minute at an easy effort to catch your breath

Cool down

Finish with 2 minutes of easy-paced walking or running and cool down.

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