HIIT Running Workout

HIIT Running Workout

High-intensity interval training has become incredibly popular in the last decade because it allows for quick and effective workouts.

That said, jumping into a HIIT running workout with no experience might not be the best option.

Let’s see why that is, discuss some safety rules for optimal performance, and briefly examine how I do things.

Table of Contents

A Quick Look at My Routine

My routine is relatively simple and flexible. Once I warm up (more on that below), I alternate between 30 seconds of fast running (at 70-80% of my maximum) and a minute of walking. 

Depending on my free time and how I feel that day, I would do this for as little as 10 minutes or up to half an hour.

Rules For a Safe and Effective HIIT Running Workout

The goal of a good running HIIT workout is to work up to a high intensity but safely, which is easier said than done. Here are some things to consider:

  • Target heart rate: 80+ % of your maximum heart rate (MHR). A common way to measure MHR is by subtracting age in years from 220. For instance, if someone is 35, their MHR would be 185 (220 – 35). The target heart rate for that person would be 148+ beats per minute.
  • Warming up: given the high intensity, a proper warm-up is a must. Start with static and dynamic stretching, do some light cardio (e.g., jogging), and gradually increase the intensity. No joint or muscle should feel stiff before your workout starts.
  • Previous day prep: Fuel yourself with enough carbs and protein to support your muscles and performance. Also, hydrate yourself well––aim for up to 3.7 liters of liquids if you’re a man or 2.7 liters if you’re a woman. This further supports performance and may reduce lactic acid build-up and cramps during training.
  • Progression: Start at a low intensity you can handle safely and gradually increase the difficulty from week to week. For example, the first week’s runs could be slightly quicker than jogging. Then, week two could be a bit faster, and so on. Take note of what distance you cover during each round (say, 30 seconds) and gradually increase the speed to cover more distance.
  • Frequency: Start with just one or two HIIT running workouts per week. Remember that these workouts will be more intense and difficult to recover from, so doing them daily doesn’t make sense.

HIIT Running Workout


Do 5-10 minutes of low-intensity cardio, such as jogging, and follow up with some light stretching, particularly of the quads, adductors, and hamstrings.

The Workout

Run at around 80% of your MHR for 30 seconds. Follow each running bout with a minute of slow walking to recover. Start with 10 to 15 total rounds two times per week.


Gradually increase your speed to cover a greater distance during each 30-second running bout. Use a log or app to write down your progress from week to week.


Never skip warm-ups, and listen to your body while running. Don’t be afraid to cut a workout short if a muscle or joint feels particularly stiff or achy.

Click to learn about 45-minute HIIT Workouts.

Click to see our medical disclosure.