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4 short speedwork sessions to sneak in over the holidays

You'll be back from one of these quick but challenging sessions before anyone realizes you are gone

woman running on a snowy night

It can be challenging enough to fit running in around the many other obligations we juggle; throw in fewer daylight hours and fast-approaching holidays and it feels near impossible. Each of these quality speedwork sessions can be done in 40 minutes or less. If you need to make these even shorter, adjust the length of your warmup and cooldown.

Man running in winter on the Williamsburg bridge in New YOrk

30-minute fast-finish session

This workout allows you time to adequately warm up before running hard; your effort for the final 10 minutes should be tough, but not hard enough to leave you struggling to finish. You can easily add a five to 10-minute cooldown to the end of this one, if you have time.

Start by running for 20 minutes at a very easy pace or effort.

Pick up the pace for the final 10 minutes of your workout, running at a medium-hard effort. (Yes, it’s that simple.)

trail runner in snow

Threshold intervals

This interval workout pushes your aerobic threshold–the limit at which your body can work before lactic acid begins building up. Designed to keep your heart rate up for long enough to build strength without causing exhaustion, threshold intervals will make your goal race pace feel easier.

Warm up with 10 minutes of easy running.

Run for two minutes at 80 per cent effort, then two minutes recovery at an easy pace, and repeat eight times.

Cool down with five minutes of easy running.

Cold Weather Running

40-minute hill repeats

For this session you’ll need to find a hill that is challenging enough to make you breathe hard as you move up it, but not so steep that you lose control of your form. Run at a hard effort up the hill, while maintaining a quick cadence and proper running form.

Start with 10 minutes of easy running to warm up.

Run 8-10 x 30 seconds uphill at a hard effort, with 90 seconds recovery jog.

Cool down with 10 minutes of easy running.

Strength-building progression run

The 12 minutes of faster running at the end of the workout will give both your legs and your lungs a workout, and improve overall efficiency.

Warm up with five minutes of easy running.

Run 15 minutes at goal marathon race pace.

Run 12 minutes at a hard pace (try your goal 10K race pace).

Cool down with five minutes of easy running.

Follow any hard workout with easy running or a recovery day, and make sure to hydrate well.

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