This 20-Minute Outdoor HIIT Running Workout Is the Ultimate Test of Your Speed and Endurance

Maggie Ryan

HIIT (high-intensity interval training) routines are always tough, but outdoor HIIT running workouts are on another level. "Performing high intensity intervals will require you to dig deep and find your max effort for short periods of time," Danielle Hirt, a NASM-certified personal trainer and RRCA Level 1 certified running coach, told POPSUGAR. You're pushing your body to the limit of its speed, which is a big ask of your lungs and legs, but it's also incredibly satisfying when you finish (and can finally collapse in a puddle on the ground).

This outdoor HIIT running workout is just 20 minutes long, so it's a good one to start with if you're new to this style of training. Hirt said the workout is meant to get your heart pumping and burn calories, something HIIT does with a ton of efficiency; the alternating fast and slow intervals allow you to maintain a faster pace than you would if you were trying to go fast the whole time. HIIT-style workouts also stimulate your body to continue burning a modest amount calories after the workout is completed, otherwise known as the EPOC (excess postexercise oxygen consumption) effect.

"Performing high-intensity intervals will require you to dig deep and find your max effort for short periods of time," Hirt said. For each fast interval, your goal is to run at 85, 90, or 95 percent of your fastest sprint (more on that below). "This effort-based workout will be tough, so take the recovery intervals as you need," she added, whether that's walking or a light jog. "You should be able to start each run interval strong!"

In the workout below, Hirt references three different speeds, which will be slightly different for everyone:

  • 85 percent of max speed: A hard effort. You should be able to talk in very short phrases or words.

  • 90 percent of max speed: A tough effort. You should not be able to respond in conversation and be very focused on breathing.

  • 95 percent of max speed: Your hardest effort. You should be going so hard, you need to walk during your recovery intervals.

Since this workout is high-intensity, Hirt recommends doing it only once or twice per week. Make sure to take rest days in between, too. If you're ready, grab your running shoes, fill up your water, and let's get it.

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20-Minute HIIT Running Workout

Directions: First, complete the warmup below in addition to these dynamic warmup moves. Then do the 20-minute workout, following the pacing directions as listed. Complete the cooldown stretches afterward. Keep reading for instructions on how to do each warmup and cooldown move.

Warm-up Stretch

Time/Reps

High knees or standing marches

30 seconds

Butt kicks

30 seconds

Time

Pace

Example Pace

0:00-2:00

Fast walk, doing 10 shoulder rolls forwards and 10 backwards

15 min/mile

2:01-4:00

Conversational run

12 min/mile

4:01-5:30

Faster than conversational (85%)

9:14 min/mile

5:31-6:30

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

6:31-7:30

Run (90%)

8:34 min/mile

7:31-8:30

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

8:31-9:00

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

9:01-10:00

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

10:01-11:00

Run (90%)

9:14 min/mile

11:01-11:30

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

11:31-12:00

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

12:01-12:30

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

12:31-13:30

Run (90%)

9:14 min/mile

13:31-14:00

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

14:01-14:30

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

14:31-15:00

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

15:01-15:30

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

15:31-16:00

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

16:01-16:20

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

16:21-16:40

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

16:41-17:00

Sprint (95%)

8 min/mile

17:01-20:00

Recovery walk or jog

15 min/mile

Cooldown Stretch

Time/Reps

Standing hamstring strech

30 seconds

Standing quad stretch

30 seconds

Mountain Pose

2-3 breaths

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