Welcome to workout Wednesday when each week I share a new running or strength training workout for runners. Follow along each week for new workout ideas to help you become a stronger and faster runner!

If you have been reading my blog for any length of time you already know I have a love for the Tabata protocol. I use it all the time in strength workouts because it makes timing intervals super easy. The way it works is that you perform an exercise for 20 seconds as hard as you can, then you rest for 10 seconds. Sometimes I alternate between two exercises. You repeat 20 seconds/10 seconds intervals eight times until you reach four minutes. That's it.

With lower intensity exercise, I will repeat the four-minute Tabata-style intervals several times for a full workout. However, the Tabata protocol was built on the idea that when working at a high intensity (full-throttle) then four minutes is all you need. Say Wha? Of course, this just is one part of a well-rounded training program. You can't expect to only run four minutes all the time, but for those days when you really (REALLY!) don't have time to workout, this is the perfect plan to stay on track (pun intended). It's quick and efficient to build strength, speed, and anaerobic capacity. 

This makes it a perfect, challenging, no-excuses running workout. You can find four minutes in your day, right? OK, a disclaimer: It may take more than four minutes because I would be a bad running coach if I didn't remind you to warm up for at least a few minutes before starting an intense workout and to cool down before getting back to life. Can you give me 10 minutes? Deal? Deal. 

four minute tabata-style workout for when you dont have time to run. save to Pinterest for later.

four minute tabata-style workout for when you dont have time to run. save to Pinterest for later.

This workout is appropriate for intermediate runners who have a running base milage built of 3-5 miles a day, 3-5 times a week on a consistent basis for at least several months. It is important that you have a running base established before you attempt intense running interval workouts to avoid injury, burnout and overtraining. Trust me on this one. 

Allow yourself a rest day or an easy running day after performing a hard workout. Our body adapts (grows faster and stronger) during the rest after our workouts, not during the workout itself. You will never see the full benefit of your hard work if you don't allow your body the rest it requires. Oh yeah, work to get eight hours of sleep too. It matters for performance and recovery. #coachrantover

READY? Let's go. Download a Tabata app on your phone for the timer. There are plenty of free ones if you don't mind the ads. Just search Tabata in the app store or on Google Play. 

The track is fun! Let's go!

The track is fun! Let's go!

This works best on a track because the flat and soft surface allows you move at near-full speed. You could also do this on the street or on the treadmill. Note on the treadmill: I would recommend leaving the belt running and jump to the side panels for your 10-second rest intervals. This takes some skill, so do at your own risk (and don't blame me if you fall off haha). The only reason I recommend this is that it can take more than 10 seconds for the belt to slow down and speed up and it's hard to stick to the timing when you are waiting on the belt. Your 10 seconds rest periods should be full stops. If you don't feel comfortable with this, then please do not attempt and just stick to the streets or track. Fair warning. 

four minute tabata-style workout for when you don't have time to run. save to Pinterest for later.

four minute tabata-style workout for when you don't have time to run. save to Pinterest for later.


Run at near full speed for 20 seconds.
Rest (completely stop, no walking) for 10 seconds to recover
Repeat until four minutes has passed OR you have exhausted yourself. In other words, if you can't make it the full four minutes, it's ok to stop when you simply can't go on. Next week you can try to increase your time. Never blindly follow workouts on the internet, always work at your own fitness level. 

It sounds deceptively easy, but trust me when I tell you that if you are giving your full effort on the 20 seconds intervals, you will feel like you got in a good quick workout after four minutes.

Intense workouts should only be performed once or twice a week for most runners (highly trained runners with an optimal recovery protocol may be able to handle three).  

Give it a try and let me know what you think in the comments, on Instagram or on Twitter

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Coach Lea

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